StandUP UBC: Impact of a low-cost standing desk on occupational fatigue and work engagement


Purpose: The StandUP UBC trial demonstrated that low-cost standing desk converters reduced sitting by 42 mins/day after 3 months. This secondary analysis aimed to assess the impact of providing these low-cost standing desks on occupational fatigue and work engagement. Methods: Forty-eight office-based workers were recruited for a registered RCT with a waitlist control. The treatment group received a cardboard, low-cost standing desk converter, and recommendations for use. Primary outcomes were objectively measured occupational sitting and prolonged sitting bouts. Secondary outcomes reported in this study were occupational fatigue (Need for Recovery measure) and work engagement (Utrecht Work Engagement Scale-9), which were collected via online surveys at baseline, 3- and 6-months. rANOVAs compared differences in outcomes from baseline to 6-months. ITT analyses are reported. Results/conclusions: No significant group X time interactions were observed for occupational fatigue (F(1.65,45)=.60, partial ?2=.01) or total work engagement (F(2,45)=.18, partial ?2=.004; p's>.05). There were also no group X time interactions in the work engagement subscales (vigour, dedication, absorption), or in the complete case analyses. Although reductions in sitting time were comparable to findings from studies using costlier alternatives, there were no changes in work-related measures of work engagement and occupational fatigue. These results are consistent with previous literature and suggest that reductions in daily workplace sitting are not associated with improvements in work-related outcomes. One interpretation is that reduced sitting does not increase fatigue or reduce engagement among employees. Therefore, standing desk converter interventions are potentially scalable without harming outcomes of particular relevance for employers or employees.

Acknowledgments: We would like to acknowledge the support of the Canadian Institute for Health Research.