Height-Adjustable Desks Reduce Sitting Time for Home Workers

Providing employees who work from home with height-adjustable desks reduces sitting time during the workday—an effect that is even greater when an online behavioral intervention is included, reports a study in the February Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Led by Emily L. Mailey, PhD, of Kansas State University, the study included 95 university employees who worked from home most or all of the time. Employees were randomly assigned to receive a height-adjustable desk, which allowed them to easily switch from sitting or standing; an online training program, which provided motivation and support to reduce sitting time. A third group received both the height-adjustable desk and online training, while a control group received neither intervention.

After 12 weeks, sitting time decreased by an average of 122 minutes per day in employees who received a height-adjustable desk and 96 minutes per day in those assigned to the online program. Employees receiving both the height-adjustable desk and online training had the greatest reduction in sedentary time: by 206 minutes per day.

Reducing sitting time during the workday has the potential to decrease health risks. However, during the short study follow-up period, there were no significant changes in cardiometabolic measures such as blood pressure, lipid levels, or body weight.

Prolonged sitting is very common among office workers and has known detrimental effects on physical and mental health. Working at home is associated with even more sedentary behavior and less physical activity than working outside of the home. With the increase in working from home during COVID-19, the need for measures to decrease sitting time has become even more urgent.

Providing employees with a height-adjustable desk or an online training program can substantially reduce sitting time while working from home, the new results suggest. Combining the two interventions provides the greatest reduction in sedentary time—by nearly 3.5 hours per day.

"The approaches tested in this preliminary study show promise for changing sedentary behavior," Dr. Mailey and coauthors conclude. They emphasize the need for larger trials in more diverse groups of employees.
About the Author
Dr. Mailey may be contacted for interviews at emailey@ksu.edu.
ACOEM (www.acoem.org), an international society of 4,000 occupational physicians and other health care professionals, provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces, and environments.
About the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (www.joem.org) is the official journal of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Edited to serve as a guide for physicians, nurses, and researchers, the clinically oriented research articles are an excellent source for new ideas, concepts, techniques, and procedures that can be readily applied in the industrial or commercial employment setting.


Mailey E, Rosenkranz R, Rosenkranz SK, et al. Reducing occupational sitting while working from home: individual and combined effects of a height-adjustable desk and an online behavioral intervention. J Occup Environ Med. 2022;64(2):91-98.