Sit-Stand Working

A brief history of sit-stand working

Sit-stand working is not a new idea. At the end of the 19th century, clerks still worked at high, usually sloping surfaces, standing or sitting on high stools. We have met people who worked like this when they began their careers in City of London institutions in the 1950s.

The 20th century saw the introduction of machines into the office. With them came lower and flat desks and the beginning of a much more sedentary way of working. The only significant exception to this was the drawing board used by architects, designers and draftsmen. The drawing board with easy and fast adjustment of height was probably the first sit-stand workstation.

In Denmark in the late 1970s, concern about the effects of poor ergonomic provision in the workplace led to the introduction of regulations about the height of workstation furniture. Desks must be adjustable to suit the user and the task; shared desks must adjust easily to suit the different users.

The first Danish solutions had simple adjustment in the legs, effectively a choice of fixed height. These were followed by designs providing easy adjustment via crank-operated mechanical systems and by early experiments with hydraulic and electrical systems.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s the first sit-stand desks appeared. Early designs used gaslifts with simple systems designed to balance the weight of the equipment on the worktop in order to provide fast adjustment without effort.

By 2001 the gaslift-based designs were superseded by electrical systems which were more reliable and much simpler to use.

2005: more than 90% of new desks installed in Danish offices are sit-stand designs.

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