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Standing up to the problem of sitting down: The standing desk revolution

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Once you tally up the hours spent sitting in the office, commuting to and from work, and sitting down to watch TV after a long day, you’ll find that you are spending more time on your glutes than your boots – and could be sitting up to nine hours per day.

In today’s health conscious society, we are constantly looking for new ways to increase our work productivity, life expectancy, and the general wellbeing, so what if we could stand up to all these issues with one solution: standing up.

Standing desks, both portable or stationary, are gaining traction as a healthy option to improve the efficiency and general well-being for those workers who find themselves sitting for most of the day.

SmartCompany takes a look at the businesses driving the standing desk revolution and asks whether standings desks are something you should be using.

Is standing the answer?

Jason Smith, the founder and group director of Australia’s largest physiotherapy franchise, Back In Motion, told SmartCompany, “I have great caution about prolonged sitting.”

“We talk about sitting as being safe and natural – everyone is doing it. But we are not designed to sit in a desk for six hours. The average Australian sits for on average 9.3 hours per day, at their desk, in their car and watching the TV,” he says.

“We’re sitting more than we sleep, we’re only sleeping 7.4 hours a day.”

Smith’s research has found 7000 deaths a year in Australia can be attributed to the health issues brought about by sitting, and six hours of sitting cancels out one hour of exercise in terms of reducing the risk of mortality. He believes if a shark killed as many people as sitting does, “we would be in uproar”.

Standing desks aim to address this problem and two new SMEs in the market are ZestDesk and Refold. Both companies are entrepreneurial ventures funded by Kickstarter campaigns, looking to break into the standing workplace market.

Standing on its feet: ZestDesk

James Moore, the son in the father-son entrepreneurial duo responsible for ZestDesk, told SmartCompany the support their venture has received so far has made them confident about the future.

The company raised $70,000 from a Kickstarter campaign, much more than the original pledged goal of $10,000.

“We were always hopeful of getting over $50,000, and it’s been a relief to get the response we’ve received,” Moore says.

“We now have the confidence to produce 1000-2000 desks once production begins,” he says, “Our goal is to own the portable solution space. As it develops, people will want more flexible solutions and we really want to own that space.”

Moore’s father came up with the ZestDesk concept after experiencing back pain himself.

“My father is a GP, he’s always suffered from a bad back, and for the past 25 years he’s been standing on a desk with four cinder blocks,” Moore says.

Moore’s father’s work also required him to hot-desk at work and never having his “own” desk presented a new challenge.  

“He needed a flexible solution,” Moore says. “He went out and couldn’t find one, and has been looking to produce the ZestDesk styled service ever since.”

Standing on its feet: Refold

One of the three founders of Refold, Kiwi entrepreneur Matt Innes told SmartCompany he and his colleagues were sick and tired of sitting down at work. They thought there must be a better way of working – and wanted to create change. They came up with Refold, a reusable and sturdy standing desk made from cardboard.

Refold’s Kickstarter campaign, much like ZestDesk’s, has exploded far beyond the pledged goal, reaching $70,000.

“We were originally going for $25,000,” Innes said. “We set that as a minimum goal, but we were aiming to double that so we could invest in our production process.”

Innes says the results so far have given the founders a lot of confidence in the project, and that beyond the already pledged donations, corporates and not-for-profit organisations – who are unable to donate to the Kickstarter – have reached out to show their interest in the product.

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