Exploring the Impact of Standing on Health and Work

Sedentary work is increasingly common these days, bringing the role of physical activity in the workplace — especially standing — into the conversation around workers’ health and productivity. To examine the relationship between standing habits and overall well-being, we compared these experiences across various work environments with a comprehensive survey of 1,000 employed Americans.


Their standing habits and self-reported physical and mental health outcomes reveal the impacts of standing while working across different industries and work settings. Our findings offer vital insights into how something as simple as standing might influence more than just health but also job satisfaction, productivity, and even salary.


Key Takeaways


  • On average, workers stand for 101 minutes during the workday (1.7 hours).
  • More than 1 in 3 remote workers report standing for just 10 minutes or less during the workday.
  • More than 1 in 4 remote workers don’t go outside during the workday.
  • Workers who stand for at least 30 minutes during the workday are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs (57%).
  • Nearly 1 in 4 workers who began standing more at work have seen a positive shift in their mental health, and 1 in 12 report making fewer mistakes.


Tallying Time on Our Feet


Standing habits may significantly impact the workforce’s health. First, we’ll look at how long workers stand based on their work setting and then break it down by work setting and industry sector.

Our survey results show considerable variation in daily standing times across different work settings and sectors, indicating a wide range of physical engagement in different job roles. Employees in the hospitality, food, and beverage industry have stood for the longest periods each day, in stark contrast to those in finance.


Here’s how long employees in the following industries stand per day, on average:


  • Hospitality (food/beverage): 170 minutes (2.8 hours)
  • Retail: 150 minutes (2.5 hours)
  • Health care: 125 minutes  (2.1 hours)
  • Education: 118 minutes (2 hours)
  • Marketing: 80 minutes (1.3 hours)
  • Government: 72 minutes (1.2 hours)
  • Information technology: 66 minutes (1.1 hours)
  • Finance: 61 minutes (1 hour)


Sitting can make some health conditions worse and increase back pain. Despite their youth, back pain was particularly prevalent among Gen Z workers, with 57% of them reporting this discomfort.


These effects of sitting may explain why the shift toward remote work has increased back pain among workers. More than a third of the remote workers we surveyed said they only stand for 10 minutes or less during their entire workday, contrasting sharply with the overall average of 101 minutes (1.7 hours) of standing time reported by all workers. This points to the sedentary nature of remote working conditions and could signal a need for more active and ergonomic solutions in these settings.


The Benefits of Standing at Work


Standing habits appear to reflect workers’ overall well-being in many ways, including their mental health, pain levels, and job performance.

The relationship between standing more during the workday and self-perceived productivity was particularly pronounced among Gen Z workers, with 51% saying it has made them feel more productive. This finding emphasizes the importance of physical activity in enhancing work efficiency overall, but it may also point to generational differences in workplace habits.


However, the overall mental health benefits associated with standing at work spanned generations. Approximately 1 in 4 workers observed a positive shift in their mental health upon increasing their standing time, with some (1 in 12) even noting a reduction in work-related mistakes. Remote workers stood out in this trend, with 32% having experienced significant mental health improvements due to increased standing. This correlation between physical activity and mental acuity is an essential consideration for modern workplace wellness programs.


Standing while working also correlated with slightly better self-reported work performance: 53% of workers who said they stand for at least 30 minutes per day at work reported high productivity, compared to 49% of those standing less. This association also extended to earnings, with the former group earning an average of $61,094, in contrast to $55,627 for their less active counterparts.


Job satisfaction also appeared to be higher among those who said they stand for at least 30 minutes during each workday: They were 14% more likely to express contentment with their roles compared to other workers. These findings suggest that physical activity in the workplace may influence more than just physical health.


How To Have a Healthier Workday


Our respondents offered helpful tools and practices that can help enhance physical activity and productivity in the workplace. One of them — standing desks — also correlated with better health, job satisfaction, and even pay bonuses.

Workers use various aids to make prolonged periods of work more comfortable. The most common one our respondents said they’ve used was a standing desk (used by 21%), but another 12% had used a footrest or anti-fatigue mat. A small 5% had used a desk converter, which can offer a more affordable way to create a standing workspace than replacing an entire desk. These figures highlight some awareness of the need for ergonomic tools in the workplace, yet also point to a relatively low overall adoption rate.

On a positive note, remote work may offer greater flexibility for maintaining physical health during the workday. A significant 83% of remote workers said they take regular breaks, surpassing the 72% in hybrid settings and 55% of in-person workers. Despite these positive trends, more than 1 in 4 remote workers shared that they don’t go outside at all during their workday, raising questions about the broader lifestyle implications of remote work.


Stand Up for Your Health


Our exploration into the dynamics of standing in the workplace emphasizes the link between physical activity and well-being in both work and personal life. Standing times and habits vary significantly across industries, with some sectors (especially hospitality) leading in active work styles, while others (including finance) have leaned towards more sedentary routines.


This data stresses the importance of ergonomic solutions, especially in fields prone to less physical movement. The positive correlations with productivity, mental health, and even earnings also point to the multifaceted benefits of standing more while working. As such, embracing changes that promote physical activity in all work environments, from traditional office settings to remote workspaces, may lead to happier, healthier, more effective workers.




For this study, we surveyed 1,000 employed Americans to explore their standing habits while working. Among them, 47% worked in-person, 27% hybrid, and 25% remotely (these numbers don’t total 100 due to rounding). The generational breakdown was as follows:


  • Gen Z: 16%
  • Millennials: 54%
  • Gen X: 24%
  • Baby boomers: 6%


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