Title

Adjustable-height work stations let the Department of Psychology stay on their feet without leaving the office

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

7-13-2015

Abstract

Adjustable-height work stations let the Department of Psychology stay on their feet without leaving the office

This stand-up routine isn’t funny.

At least one department at the University of North Dakota knows that for sure.

Just about the whole Department of Psychology has switched to adjustable computer stands that can go from the traditional sitting position to varying heights for stand-up work.

Part of the impetus to this new positioning is the department’s online degree programs — both undergraduate and master’s degrees offered fully online.

“We’re asking our faculty to spend a lot more time at their computers,” said department chair Jeffrey Holm, who noted in his “sales pitch” to his group that sitting for eight hours a day can be hazardous to health.

“There’s some research that shows that sedentary behavior can decrease life expectancy,” Holm said.

“When you’re teaching face-to-face, you have to move to different classrooms, you usually stand to deliver content, and you’re moving around the classroom,” Holm said. “But as we’ve moved to more online instruction in our department in the last five years, there’s a lot more sitting at the computer.”

So earlier this year, Holm took matters to the next level: he offered the faculty and staff in his department the opportunity to adopt adjustable computer stations.

“I wanted to make sure that we weren’t ordering fixed standing position desks,” he said. “I was looking for something that would be relatively easy to adjust, to bring up or take down.”

After an initial order of 11 adjustable units, orders came in for more as colleagues noted the experience of people in the department who’d adapted to the new technology.

“We’ve now got 16 of our faculty, out of 22, and two staff, using these adjustable stands,” Holm said.

“I believe that the standup desks are a great addition to my workplace” said Thomas (Tom) Petros, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of Psychology. “I was having hip pain and some back pain. I have had my standup desk since the beginning of this year and much of that pain has gone away. It can get uncomfortable at first but if you alternate standing with some sitting, it works well for me.”

Not everyone has immediately embraced the new tech.

“First, I applaud Jeff for encouraging health-beneficial behaviors,” said Richard Ferraro, also Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of Psychology. “That said, I have not — yet — adopted a stand-up desk. I am still working on my stand-up comedy act for my classes.”

But Ferraro also says he’s entertaining the idea.

“An adjustable desk may eventually come my way, as I am aware of the benefits as well as the costs of such desks,” Ferraro said. “Alternating between sitting and standing is the best, and I currently take walks through the psych building every 20 minutes or so every day. Many in the department have adopted this beneficial desk option, and I also applaud them as well for taking control of their health.”

Challenges?

“No, not really — I can adjust mine in two seconds,” Holm said. “It didn’t take me long to get used to it.”

Juan Miguel Pedraza University & Public Affairs writer

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