Office Furniture: Fitness vs. Efficiency?

By Karen Koenig | Posted: 02/10/2013 7:57PM


Could the “fitness” furniture in your office be hurting your productivity?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal suggests just that. According to Jen Weiczner’s article, “Falling Down on the Job?” users of treadmill/desk workstations, such as Steelcase’s Walkstation and the TreadDesk, found they incurred a greater number of typographical errors. "You quickly realize how difficult it is to type anything longer than a sentence," BBDO CEO John Osborn told WSJ.

The article also cites a study by the University of Tennessee in which some users experienced an 11 percent decrease in small motor skills – not only of typing, but also mouse clicking – as well as other cognitive skills. Not to mention potential corporate issues arising with regards to employee hygiene from the added exertion and liability. Similar situations arise with other types of fitness furniture including the combination stationary bicycles and desks, such as the FitDesk.

Liability questions also arise with the use of stability balls in the workplace, which many workers use to improve their abdominal strength while sitting at the desk. In addition to the possibility of workers hurting themselves by sliding awkwardly off the balls, the WSJ article cites a 2009 Dutch study which, while acknowledging the fitness benefits of these devices, notes they also produced "spinal shrinkage," and compression of the vertebrae in some test subjects.

Now I certainly don’t advocate everyone become "chair potatoes" in the workplace. Also, let’s not forget findings that suggest sitting down on the job can be harmful to your health. In fact, in 2011 I wrote about an American Cancer Society study that found an increased risk of mortality from people that sat more than six hours a day. Research also linked approximately 49,000 cases of breast cancer and 43,000 incidents of colon cancer annually, to prolonged periods of sitting.

So what’s a company or worker to do? Tell us how is your office handling the situation.


About the Author

Karen M. Koenig

Karen M. Koenig has more than 25 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As Editor-in-Chief of Woodworking Network magazine (formerly Wood & Wood Products), Karen’s primary responsibilities include spearheading the writing, editing and coordinating of the editorial content of the publication, along with the Red Book resource guide and the Red Book online source and supply directory ( She is also a frequent contributor to other Woodworking Network online and print media. She can be reached at or Google+.

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bedroom comforter sets  |  March, 28, 2013 at 12:39 AM

Very efficiently written information. It will be useful to anyone who utilizes it, as well as myself. Keep up the good work – for sure i will check out more posts.

office furniture bay area  |  March, 29, 2013 at 07:58 AM

Really amazing information!! The information provided here can help installing the right kind of chairs and furniture. Great work!!


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