A US health company tried out standing desks in their call centre with fascinating results
Call centres are workplaces which often feature as amongst the worst cases of prolonged sedentary working. With over 1 million call centre employees in the UK, it’s a sector where research can deliver the most fascinating results. Why? Because call centre workers are the most closely monitored, measured and analysed when it comes to worker performance, productivity and quality.
Recently, researchers at the Texas A&M Health Science Centre School of Public Health followed 167 employees at a call centre to find out if sit-stand desks could be proven to boost productivity.
Half of the 167 employees were given sit-stand desks to use over six months, with the other half sticking to their normal desks during the same period.
The sit-stand users were able to raise or lower their desks so they could either sit or stand as and when they wished. Workers who used these sit-stand desks sat for about 1.6 hours less per day than their standard static desk-using colleagues.
Productivity was measured by the number of successful calls to clients that the health and clinical advisors made per hour. The company earned revenue for each successful call, during which an advisor checked in on a client’s progress in an exercise program, for example, or verified to see that a client was taking proper medication.
Employees typically made between 400 and 500 calls a month, and the company wanted them to average 2 successful calls each hour. Those who had standing desks met the target, whilst those who remained seated only averaged 1.5 successful calls per hour.
In the first month, the stand-capable group had 23 percent more successful calls than their seated colleagues, and by the sixth month, they had 53 percent more successful calls. The study found that those who were using the sit-stand desks were 45% more productive that those with standard desks. Productivity was measured by how many successful calls employees completed per hour per day.
Mark Benden, Ph.D., C.P.E., associate professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health said: “We hope this work will show companies that although there might be some costs involved in providing stand-capable workstations, increased employee productivity over time will more than offset these initial expenses,”
“One interesting result of the study is that the productivity differences between the stand-capable and seated groups were not as large during the first month,” said Gregory Garrett, M.A., a public health doctoral student and a lead author of the study. “Starting with the second month, we began to see larger increases in productivity with the stand-capable groups as they became habituated to their standing desks.”
You can see the full study here.
If you would like to know more about sit-stand desks and how they can benefit staff health and wellbeing, check out our Benefits of Standing page.