Sitting is killing us. Or wait, maybe it’s standing. Yes, standing can be unhealthy, too. That’s according to the designers of the “chairless chair,” a half-stand, half-sit piece of furniture that will make life less terrible for workers who carry out long shifts on their feet. By taking weight off the joints and lower back, Swiss industrial design house Noonee contends that the chairless chair will decrease fatigue and increase productivity.
It’s true that standing or clomping around all day on hard warehouse floors can cause real stress on the body. It’s also linked to low back pain, which costs the U.S. between $100 and $200 billion a year in lost work days. In Switzerland, the birthplace of the chairless chair, occupation-related musculoskeletal disorders cost more than an estimated $4 billion in lost productivity.
Noonee’s site–your primary portal for the “Chairolution”–makes an ergonomics argument for the chairless chair reducing fatigue and decreasing turnover. But there are also a ton of other detrimental factory and warehouse conditions over which chairless chairs for your legs and butt have little control. Like the 10.5-hour shifts spent racing around e-commerce warehouses and packaging dildos for Christmas. Or the often unpredictable and dangerous demands of a growing low-wage temp labor market that supplies many of these industries.
Consider the fact that wages and blue-collar job growth have stagnated in the U.S. while productivity has taken off, and we might begin to understand some of the economic pressures that undermine healthy and optimal working conditions. Chairless chairs for your butt might better short-term productivity, but they don’t guarantee any kind of sustainable dedication to worker well-being.