BITCO Insurance Companies

Texas A&M Researchers Report Improved Productivity with “Stand-Capable” Workstations

Release Date: June 8, 2016

Employers often ask whether the introduction of sit-to-stand or standing desks into the office environment will adversely impact the productivity of the workers. In a newly published study, Texas A&M researchers reported that the introduction of “stand-capable” workstations significantly improved the productivity of workers at a call center over a six-month period.

The study “Call Center Productivity Over 6 Months Following a Standing Desk Intervention,” was conducted by researchers Gregory Garrett, Mark Benden, Ranjana Mehta, Adam Pickens, Camille Peres, and Hongwei Zhao and will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal IIE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors. In the interim, the full text of the study is available for free by searching the journal homepage at http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/uehf20.

The researchers studied 167 call center employees, who can spend up to ninety percent of their time seated, providing health-related consultations over the telephone. To investigate the effect on productivity of the different workstations, the researchers divided the employees into a study group and a control group, each group consisting of employees in two job categories. The study group was provided with “stand-capable” desks, which included sit-to-stand and stand-biased desks. Desk height could be adjusted in both, but sit-to-stand had a traditional chair to facilitate adjustment to a seated position, while stand-biased workstations were equipped with a higher, bar-type stool including a footrest. Previous studies of the call center population showed little difference in use between workers who were provided with the two types of stand-capable units.

Of particular interest is the metric used to measure productivity, which was well-defined prior to the study. The company had already implemented a proprietary software tracking system to compute the number of “successful encounters” per hour, each encounter consisting of a telephone conversation with a client about health-related issues, entering data into a computer, and associated tasks. During the study, the researchers monitored the productivity of the participants on a daily basis.

The key findings of the study included:

The authors noted limitations on the study design and the issues of using the productivity metric and projecting the study results to other worksites. For further information on study design and photographs of the workstations, refer to the article at the IIE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors website noted above.

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