The use of treadmill desks at the workplace is gaining popularity (albeit slowly, since few people can digest the idea of walking while doing computer work). A new study involved investigating the effects of using a treadmill desk while on the job, instead of the typical office chair.
This study caught my attention because I’ve been using a treadmill desk (at home and almost entirely for my editorial business) since January of 2013.
Avner Ben-Ner et al, from the University of Minnesota, studied 40 employees of a financial services company. The office was reformatted so that employees could use a treadmill desk setup, allowing for a speed of up to 2 mph. The employees were followed for one year. The participants also wore an energy expenditure monitoring device at all times during wakefulness a month prior to the treadmill desk installation.
How did a treadmill desk affect worker productivity?
Work performance was enhanced substantially. It no surprise that the participants burned more calories: 7-8 percent more per day. Initially, there was a decline in work productivity due to the participants adjusting to walking while working.
But once that adjustment was made, productivity was boosted. Productivity on the job was measured via supervisor and employee surveys relating to quantity and quality of performance, plus quality of co-worker interaction. Ben-Ner says work productivity had a “substantial increase.”
Cost of installing a treadmill desk for employees?
Ben-Ner explains that there will be more employers willing to “invest $1,000 or $2,000 in outfitting a persons’ workstation.” Ben-Ner adds, “…more blood is flowing to the brain.” The investment will be quite offset by the increased work productivity.
My own treadmill desk workstation cost $900 (including shipping and handling), and the desk space is ample, so it may not even cost anywhere near $2,000 for companies to make this investment per individual employee.
Another possibility is installing only one or two units in a department full of people, for whomever would like to use it, though there would need to be time limits so that everyone interested would have a chance.
– Can you walk TOO much on a treadmill desk?
– Guidelines for how fast you should walk
– Injury prevention guidelines
– Treadmill desks for the workplace: the biggest challenges