Smart technology has already changed the way that many of us work. Sure, the advent of mobile devices and readily available WiFi connections just means more opportunities for your boss to bother you around the clock. But gadgets and wearable technology can also help workers do their jobs faster, safer and more effectively. A new generation of smart and adjustable desks may also help office drones stave off the slow march toward death that comes with sitting down on the job.
As the name suggests, sit-to-stand desks help workers in traditionally sedentary jobs move around more during office hours. The ergonomic desks are designed to automatically adjust to their users' preferences for sitting or standing, and some will even tell you when it's a good time to change positions.
The Autonomous SmartDesk, for example, is an adjustable stand-ready workstation powered by smart tech. The desk automatically adjusts its height when users sit or stand and remembers users' preferences. It can interact with smartphones and devices like a FitBit or other wireless activity tracker, as well as speakers, lights and smart thermostats. The workstation also draws on voice recognition to act as a personal assistant of sorts, making calls, setting air conditioning levels and ordering lunch with a couple of verbal commands.
The desk is the latest generation of a swath of standing work stations that have popped up in recent years in response to the growing consensus that sitting down all day is bad for your health. Studies show that too much time on the ol' keister increases the risk of death from all causes (meaning any health-related thing that could kill you is made more likely by sitting), and contributes to serious health conditions like cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.
For office drones, a 40-hour work week often means 40 or more hours of sitting in front of a computer, especially for those whose idea of a lunch break is a chicken salad sandwich in the cubicle.
But spending all day on your feet might not be the answer either. Prolonged standing on the job has been linked to varicose veins, among other health problems, and standing in an office setting comes with its own unique set of ergonomic issues.
Sit-stand desk-makers offer users a happy medium, allowing them to manually adjust positions throughout the day or even ask for a nudge in the right direction when it's time to either get up on your feet or take a load off. The Stir Kinetic Desk, for instance, is designed to adjust automatically on its own throughout the course of a day.
In the dawn of what tech geeks and sociology professors will no doubt look back on as the "Quantified Self Age," the smart workstation also uses Bluetooth technology and software apps to track users' sitting time, standing time and other activity throughout the day and give them real-time information about calories burned.
The new wave of tech-savvy office furniture can do a lot of thigs, but it can't do everything. The next time good ol' Buckshot from accounts payable asks you to help plan the annual company luau, you'll still have to come up with a believable excuse all on your own.