Your steps to make standing stick

You’ve taken a step to stand in the workplace, realising that making the office more active is a positive, productive position.

Working with procurement you’ve paid for the purchase and installation of sit-stand desks and chairs for your team. Now it’s time to report against this expense by measuring progress.

But what does progress genuinely look like? And what’s the best way to measure it?

Many managers mistakenly believe it’s simply measuring the tangibles, like counting the number of desks and chairs. But genuine, meaningful measurement involves much more. It involves the intangible—the way the people perform work using their new sit-stand desks and chairs.  

The interaction between the tangible and intangible is what really counts. The data you collect to justify resources to management needs to connect the dots and paint the whole picture.

Measuring the tangible is relatively straightforward. It’s easy to count the number of sit-stand desks you’ve installed. It’s easy enough to observe how many desks are actually used or even to find a desk-based gadgets to log progress. It’s also straightforward to ask employees how much time they’re on their feet versus sitting down.

You can even fill in this quickly and easily the Occupational Sitting and Physical Activity Questionnaire to score this aspect of your active workplace.

What’s more interesting and useful, however, are the questions behind the questions. This second layer of valuable data will give you insights on the intangible aspects of an active workplace.

Here are some examples.

1.     Why are some desks used for longer (and more often) than others?

2.     How well are sit-stand desks supporting the tasks required?

Don’t forget that the best way to measure progress is to ask those doing using the equipment and performing the work. Get your people involved. Adopt a bottom-up approach to cover off on those whose habits are shifting.

These questions zero in on the individual. Here are some examples:

1.     Why do you choose to sit or stand?

2.     How much work do you get done when sitting, standing, or even walking?

3.     What type of work do you perform when sitting, standing or walking?

4.     Do you wear a tracking advice like a Fitbit?

5.     Is absence from your desk a sign of active work?

6.     Is the amount of time you sit an indicator or too much work? Physical exhaustion? Forgetting that you can stand? Related to recovery from illness?

These types of questions will reveal why certain work set-ups are more effective than others. It will give you a deeper understanding of what is really happening.

You may not feel qualified to hold focus groups or one-on-one interviews to delve into this level of questioning. If so, you should engage an independent consultant who has this expertise.

This is important because in shifting to effective use of sit-stand equipment you’re expecting staff to shift their behavior, which is not necessarily natural or easy. It take time, commitment and patience.

Once armed with both tangible and intangible data, you’ll be in the best position to motivate your team to be highly productive, and test ongoing results. And productivity and positive results, above all else, justifies resourcing

And last, but not least, you need to ask one more important question. Are you leading the way by using sit-stand equipment and doing your bit to make your workplace more active?

Reply to this post by sharing a story, good or bad, about sitting, standing or stepping in your workplace. And stay in touch since you’ll learn from the stories of other like-minded managers. It will inspire your thinking.