Should you alternate between sitting and standing at work? For Ronel Hendry at Karo, the answer is a definite….YES!!!! Ronel Hendry is a trained Office Ergonomic Risk Facilitator at Karo and understands the importance of ergonomics in the workplace. Not just that, but she speaks from her own personal experience.

Finding the right balance between sitting and standing at work is crucial for maintaining good health and productivity. Remaining in one position, whether sitting or standing for long periods at a time, will have negative effects on your overall health. Ergonomic height adjustable or standing desks, both manual and electric, are available throughout South Africa. These desks give you the freedom to alternate between sitting and standing while you work.  Changing from sitting to standing will not necessarily combat the negative effects of sitting statically all day. In the same way, standing all day at work is also unhealthy. We believe that a balanced approach is needed where you combine sitting, standing and movement at work.

The Advantages of Alternating Between Sitting and Standing:

  • Keeping intervertebral discs in better shape.
  • Better alignment of the spine.
  • Reduced strain on the lower back because of continuously changing position.
  • Diminished risk of varicose veins.
  • Improved concentration.
  • Increased muscle activity and blood circulation.
  • Higher energy consumption (calories) as you alternate between sitting and standing.

What is the correct Posture for Sitting and Standing?

  • Ensure your adjustable standing desk is at elbow height, with elbows bent at approximately 90 degrees.
  • When sitting, keep your feet flat on the ground, and your knees slightly below the level of your hips.
  • When standing, elevate one leg using a footrest and frequently alternate legs to shift your body weight.
  • Adjust your monitor directly in front of you and at eye level height.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and your wrists in a neutral position.
  • Use an adjustable ergonomic chair when sitting and an anti-fatigue mat when standing.

What is the correct height for my desk, computer monitor and office chair?

The Importance of Exercise and Movement:

Adding simple office stretches and exercises to your daily routine can reduce stress, increase energy, and improve overall mood and creativity. To counteract the health risks of prolonged sitting, prioritise regular movement and exercise.

Types of Height Adjustable Standing Desks Available in South Africa:

  1. Standing or Sit-Stand Desk Converter:

Placed on top of your existing desk, these converters turn a normal desk into a sit-stand desk. They can be adjusted up and down to ensure the monitor, keyboard and mouse are at your ideal standing height.

Pros: Mobile, inexpensive, and adjustable to your ideal standing height.

Cons: Limited working surface area.

There are 2 basic options available:

Pneumatic or gas-assisted– The upwards height adjustment is aided by a pneumatic lift function and no manual lifting is required. However, some effort is required when lowering the standing desk converter.

Non-electric counterbalance option – A counterbalance weight makes it easier to change the height of the converter.

  1. Manual Height Adjustable Standing Desks:

There are 2 basic options when it comes to ergonomic manual height adjustable desks. The first uses a simple crank, and the second, a pneumatic lifter to raise and lower the desk.

Crank operated standing desk

  • The crank handle requires greater effort to raise and lower the desk.
  • Slower to adjust.
  • Due to the time and effort involved in changing the height of the desk, there is a risk that it will be adjusted less frequently.
  • More affordable than gas assisted and motorised options.

Pneumatic lift standing desk

  • Pneumatic height adjustment is similar to your office chair.
  • Easier to adjust than a cranking desks.
  • No manual lifting is required due to the pneumatic powered mechanism. However, more effort is necessary to lower the desk as your body weight is required to press down on the desk.
  • More affordable than electric desks.
  1. Electric Height Adjustable Desks:


  • Convenient and easy to operate. Easily change the desk height with a simple touch of a button.
  • Typically you can store pre-set heights for different users,
  • Certain models can be operated via an App on a phone or tablet.
  • Some models have electric motors in each leg and can accommodate heavier loads.
  • Generally smooth and quiet operation.


  • Models with single electric motors (one leg only) will struggle with heavier loads.
  • Some models could be noisier.
  • Electric standing desks are more expensive, but are without doubt the best ergonomic option.

Factors to Consider When Using a Standing Desk:

  • Use a padded anti-fatigue mat to reduce strain in your legs.
  • Shift positions frequently and move around to avoid fatigue.
  • Utilise a footrest and alternate legs regularly.
  • Listen to music while standing to encourage natural movement.


Based on Ronel’s personal experience and expertise as an Office Ergonomic Risk Facilitator, alternating between sitting and standing, along with incorporating regular movement, is essential for improving overall physical and mental well-being. Consider investing in an ergonomic height adjustable standing desk, with electric options providing the most convenience and benefits. Always seek advice from a health professional if you have any medical conditions that may affect your ability to stand or exercise. By adopting a balanced approach to your work routine, you can pave the way for a healthier, more productive work environment.

To speak to an Office Ergonomics Risk Facilitator contact us on 011 392 6803 or email [email protected]

Article first seen on Karo’s Knowledge Centre – click here for the full article.