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Whether at home, on the road or at work: every day we use products that make our lives easier or more beautiful. But do these products also make your back easier? Discover all back friendly products with the "AGR- seal of approval" of the Healthy Back Campaign. Just click through - you will be surprised!

Sit-stand workstations to promote movement

Sit/stand workstation concept to promote movement

Aside from other health impairments, nearly 80% of all adults experience lower back pain at least once in their lives [5]. The economic consequences in terms of public health are considerable: Lost income and lost productivity generate annual costs of close to one hundred billion. According to the present state of studies, more than 75% of people at office workstations around the world almost permanently work sitting down [15]. This is associated with lower back pain [15].

More movement

Concepts exist today with sit/stand systems that are flexible in application for the office and at home (home office). They help reduce the time spent sitting down and effectively promote natural posture changes. Adapting the work environment to your individual needs and adjusting the conditions to your respective body posture is the ideal solution for you at the office or in a home office. Therefore, the individual elements of a sit/stand workstation to promote movement have to be suitable for adults of just about any body height. This means they could also be used by taller children and adolescents.

The concept – how it works

Concepts for sit/stand workstations that promote movement aim to effectively put the user in motion at their workstation through corresponding ergonomic furnishings. For example, the tested EGA concept fundamentally consists of three elements, each with different effects on the gain in movement:1. Height-adjustable sit/stand desks (or base frames)

  1. a) Desks (office desks)
    b) Desks for at home (home office desks)
  2. Mobile, height-adjustable standing desks and optional sit/stand desks
  3. Posture relief accessories
    a) Armrests to relieve the shoulder girdle and neck
    b) Footrests to relieve the pelvic girdle and legs

Height-adjustable desks are generally differentiated between “office” desks and “home” desks. These desks are typical, height-adjustable sit/stand workstations based on the applicable standards and requirements for office workstations. Sit/stand desk frames that can be retrofitted are available as well. This allows you to use your existing worktop, merely replacing the old desk frame with a height-adjustable one.

1 a) Height-adjustable sit/stand desks (or sit/stand desk frames)
Height-adjustable desks or sit/stand workstations are desks that move with you, from a suitable sitting height to a comfortable standing height corresponding to the work task. The entire work surface is raised and lowered, with everything on it. Height-adjustable desks can make a major contribution to increasing movement at the office [7; 19], making them a basic element of sit/stand workstations to promote movement.

1 b) Height-adjustable desks for at home (home office desks)
You work from home a lot? Sit/stand workstations that promote movement offer ongoing incentives for movement here as well, so the desk for the home office has to have certain features. Home office desks are height-adjustable and used primarily for working with mobile devices. They are a cross between a conventional desk and a mobile standing desk. The worktop width is usually much narrower compared to a conventional desk, but wider than a standing desk, making it large enough to ergonomically hold all equipment such as the keyboard and mouse, laptop or desktop and a copy holder.

2. Mobile, height-adjustable standing desks and optional sit/stand desks

Standing desks and mobile sit/stand desks are the most versatile form of work surfaces. They are especially well suited for smaller work areas, more so than standard desks. They are moveable and thanks to casters, they are flexible in application for use at the office, in the home office, in meetings, presentations, lectures, and in production and logistics. They offer maximum flexibility and a particularly great incentive to move [18], so that all telephone calls, e-mails and appointments as well as spontaneous discussions among colleagues can take place standing up at a mobile standing desk. All other tasks are then performed at a conventional sit/stand desk. Ongoing posture changes automatically result on their own from this consistent separation of tasks.

3. Posture relieving accessories

These accessories complement the ergonomic work environment with the goal of further relieving the girdle zones (shoulder and pelvic girdle) [see 1; 3 among others]. The armrests and footrest play key roles within the concept presented here.

a) The armrests

When you observe your own routine at the office, you are sure to notice that office communication today increasingly takes place via the PC (e-mail etc.) and less over the telephone. Dynamic sitting/standing on the other hand is gaining importance. This means the importance of armrests on chairs may decrease going forward, even though their benefit is proven [16]. Forearm supports on the other hand are becoming more important and their use is generally considered positive [12]. Since they are able to support the entire forearm, they are superior to wrist supports in front of the PC keyboard [22]. Another practical benefit of the forearm support compared to armrests on chairs: Since it is attached to the desk, it follows you from the sitting to the standing body posture and always supports the arms or, especially in the standing position, gives you something to lean on. That can provide relief while standing and extend the standing time.

b) The footrest
Footrests are intended to vary the body weight between the legs and change the position of one leg in space by setting it onto the footrest. For standing workstations, footrests provide a way to relieve one leg (the “non-supporting leg”), thereby altering the load, especially on the load-bearing joints of the legs, the sacroiliac joint and the lower back. The leg on the footrest gets relief. Once you get accustomed to it, using a footrest will become a matter of course for you in regular practical application, without having to think about it, allowing you to fully concentrate on the work task at hand even during load changes (increasing automation of dynamic movement behaviour).

Adaptation to the person, not the other way around

In summary, note that sit/stand workstations to promote movement put the focus of the ergonomic conditions on a person’s natural movement resources. The conditions are closely and inextricably linked to human behaviour. It is essential for the conditions to adapt to the person so they can optimally protect their health and ideally improve it.

[1] Aaras, A.; Ro, O. (2000) Position of the forearm and VDU work. In: Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. 44th Annual Meeting, San Diego, S. 648ff.
[3] Cook, C. K.; Burgess-Limerick, R. (2004) The effect of forearm support on musculoskeletal discomfort during call center work. In: Applied Ergonomics 35, S. 337ff.
[12] Keller Chandra, S.; Hoehne-Hückstädt, U.; Ellegast, R. (2008) Ergonomische Anforderungen an Eingabemittel für Geräte der Informationstechnik. In: Schriftenreihe der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (DGUV) (3), Sankt Augustin.
[15] Lis, A.M.; Black, K.M.; Korn, H.; Nordin, M. (2007) Association between sitting and occupational LBP. In: Eur Spine J. 16, S. 283ff.
[16] Lübbert, U. (2016) Nachhaltige Verhaltensergonomie am Industriearbeitsplatz – am Beispiel des Arbeitsstuhls. Erfolgschancen des individuellen Anpassens ergonomischer Arbeitsmittel an Industriearbeitsplätzen mit repetitiven manuellen Tätigkeiten. Masterarbeit an der medizinischen Fakultät der Universität Basel.
[17] Martin, B.I.; Deyo, R.A.; Mirza, S.K. et al. (2008) Expenditures and health status among adults with back and neck problems. In: JAMA 299, S. 656ff.
[18] Nakovics, H.; Steiner, H. (1997) Die Reduktion körperlicher Beschwerden durch den Einsatz eines Stehpultes. In: Zeitschrift für Arbeitswissenschaft 1, S. 33ff.
[19] Ognibene, G.T.; Torres, W.; von Eyben, R.; Horst, K.C. (2016) Impact of a Sit-Stand Workstation on Chronic Low Back Pain: Results of a Randomized Trial. In: J of Occup & Environm Med 58, S. 287ff.
[22] Visser, B. et al. (2000) The effect of arm and wrist supports on the load of the upper extremity during VDU work. In: Clinical Biomechanics 15, S. 34ff.


  • Sit/stand workstation concepts to promote movement have to enable ongoing changes between sitting and standing for complex, natural load changes, promoting these as much as possible.
  • To allow everyone to find their ideal setting, sit/stand systems need to be offered for adults of just about any body height. This can be accomplished through the system’s adjustment range and/or by offering different sizes.
  • Height-adjustable sit/stand desks for the office have to meet the current AGR criteria for “sit/stand workstations”.
  • Height-adjustable desks for the home office have to meet the current AGR criteria for “home office desks”.
  • Mobile standing desks have to meet the current AGR criteria for “standing desks”.
  • A footrest is important to promote and extend natural load changes. Loads, for instance on the load-bearing joints of the legs, are changed and the leg placed on the footrest gets temporary relief.
  • A forearm support serves to relieve the arm, shoulder and neck musculature. An important practical benefit of the forearm support compared to armrests on chairs: Since it is attached to the desk, it follows the user from the sitting to the standing body posture and always supports the user’s arms. The current AGR criteria for armrests must be met.

Minimum requirements

  • Enabling and promoting the change between sitting and standing
  • Adaptable to the body height
  • Meeting the AGR criteria for:
  • ...Sit/stand workstations
  • ...Home office desks
  • ...Mobile, height-adjustable standing desks
  • ...Armrests
  • Footrest

Also appropriate

  • Mobile, height-adjustable sit/stand desks for variable posture changes according to AGR criteria
  • Elements to support dynamic standing

Products in this sector with the AGR seal of approval

    The Officeplus EGA concept (“Einfach Gesünder Arbeiten” – Simply Work Healthier)
    consists of a combination of the following products:

    • ergon profit (category: desks)
    • ergon akku (category: desks)
    • ergon mono (category: home office desks)
    • ergon mono akku (category: home office desks)

    • rolls comfort (category: standing desks/mobile standing desks)
    • rolls comfort plus (category: standing desks/mobile standing desks)
    • rolls drive (category: standing desks/mobile standing desks)

    • Ergonomic armrest (category: armrests)
    • Ergonomic footrest


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