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Stand by Me: Qualitative Insights into the Ease of Use of Adjustable Workstations

Collaboration for Evidence, Research and Impact in Public Health, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Science, Curtin University, Australia

Special Issues: Advances in sedentary behavior research and translation

Background: Office workers sit for more than 80% of the work day making them an important target for work site health promotion interventions to break up prolonged sitting time. Adjustable workstations are one strategy used to reduce prolonged sitting time. This study provides both an employees’ and employers’ perspective into the advantages, disadvantages, practicality and convenience of adjustable workstations and how movement in the office can be further supported by organisations. This qualitative study was part of the Uprising pilot study. Employees were from the intervention arm of a two group (intervention n = 18 and control n = 18) study. Employers were the immediate line-manager of the employee. Data were collected via employee focus groups (n = 17) and employer individual interviews (n = 12). The majority of participants were female (n = 18), had healthy weight, and had a post-graduate qualification. All focus group discussions and interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and the data coded according to the content. Qualitative content analysis was conducted. Results: Employee data identified four concepts: enhanced general wellbeing; workability and practicality; disadvantages of the retro-fit; and triggers to stand. Most employees (n = 12) reported enhanced general well-being, workability and practicality included less email exchange and positive interaction (n = 5), while the instability of the keyboard a commonly cited disadvantage. Triggers to stand included time and task based prompts. Employer data concepts included: general health and wellbeing; work engagement; flexibility; employee morale; and injury prevention. Over half of the employers (n = 7) emphasised back care and occupational health considerations as important, as well as increased level of staff engagement and strategies to break up prolonged periods of sitting. Discussion: The focus groups highlight the perceived general health benefits from this short intervention, including opportunity to sit less and interact in the workplace, creating an ‘energised’ work environment. The retro-fit workstation and keyboard platform provided challenges for some participants. Supervisors emphasised injury prevention and employee morale as two important by products of the adjustable workstation. These were not mentioned by employees. They called for champions to advocate for strategies to break up prolonged sitting. Implications: The findings of this novel research from both the employee and employer perspective may support installation of adjustable workstations as one component of a comprehensive approach to improve the long term health of employees.
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