Humans are designed to move constantly, not to sit for hours every day in front of screens. Many people intuitively know this and make sure they're up from their desks on a regular basis. Others invest in clever software and products that remind them to move. There's even an organisation devoted to combating the perils of over-sitting.

The core issue is that for most knowledge workers their work requires them to sit for long periods - they're computer-bound and the work is what's on the screen or at their desk. So how can we can be productive and build in healthy work habits?

Read also:
Standing desks: a great business & health investment
On stand-up desks and better results

Standing desks is one answer and if you've been following my column for a while you may have read a couple of earlier articles on the topic. Each time I write about the value of standing for at least part of our day, more information about clever inventions comes flying down the wire.


The last article discussed the portable Zestdesk, designed by Dr Peter Moore, a back pain sufferer for many years. This triggered a call from David Roberts, the New Zealand distributor of Varidesk.

The two products do similar things and both sit on top of an existing desk but the Varidesk is designed to stay on your desk instead of being transportable. Also, there's no packing away or shifting your computer when you want to go from sitting to standing.

When you're ready to change position, with hands on either side of the top part of the Varidesk just press a couple of discrete levers under the top flap. In less time than it takes to write this sentence, the keyboard and monitor platforms move according to your requirements. You can see it demonstrated in their video. They also supply a cushioned mat to stand on which is great for anyone standing for long periods, such as shop assistants.

I ran a trial of the product for a week and really enjoyed the ease with which I could change positions. The only downside I could find was the weight. If you need to change locations it's heavy to move, and my light-weight glass table wasn't sturdy enough to comfortably carry it.

Here's a comment about standing desks from a barrister friend, Iain Hutcheson. He found yet another product to assist with the issue of excessive sitting.

'Sophie and I have both moved to standing desks. These are motorised and take about 15 - 20 seconds to adjust from sitting position to standing position. We have both used our existing desktops and purchased frame/motor only. Installed cost just under $900 plus GST (link below). Sophie tends to stand all day whereas I sometimes sit, sometimes stand and generally use a combination of both, depending on task and energy levels! On average I would probably stand about 60 per cent - 70 per cent of the time. And I think productivity is definitely better - not to mention the health benefits!'

To summarise, there is an increasing awareness of the dangers of sitting too long, and there are an increasing range of products coming on the market to help combat the issue. Be clear what you need, consider the size of your office space and your budget - and good luck with your journey to better posture and health. One last thought - this isn't just a business issue. How much time do your children sit in front of screens per day? And if it's a lot, what is happening to their health, physique and weight?