Business of Well-being

Corporate Wellness Magazine Exclusive - Standing Up to Improve Employee Health & Wellness

CEO of OIC Innovations, The Desktop Elevator

Stand Up to Improve Employee Health & Wellness

Carol Mosser, Sr. HR Administrative Assistant with Oxford College of Emory University, describes her experience with OIC Innovations Desktop Elevator as a great improvement with versatility. "Being able to change positions aids in preventing my back and legs from getting tired, and keeps me better energized through my work day."

The Desktop elevator is making a standout appearance at an office near you, and employers like Carol Mosser are responding to the many benefits of the health and wellness workplace product.  Corporate Wellness Magazine sat down with OIC Innovations CEO, John Burkhalter, to open up about his product as a valuable component of improving employee productivity, absenteeism, happiness and overall health.

The factors for assessing a viable wellness product are all critical concerns for an employer on the passionate pursuit to implement corporate wellness in their work culture. Corporate Wellness Magazine discusses that importance from an employer perspective and how to use a desktop product for measurable ROI.

Corporate Wellness Magazine: What prompted you to design The Desktop Elevator?

John Burkhalter: After undergoing surgery for a ruptured disc in 2007, I tried almost every product on the market to get relief for the residual pain. I found many were not helpful and some were worthless. But it was when I returned to sitting at my desk that I found my condition immediately worsening. I came to learn first hand that sitting is absolutely the worst thing you can do for your back.

So I purchased an electric standing desk and found it was a life-saver. I not only felt much better but over just a few weeks my core muscles strengthened, my posture improved, and I was much more alert and productive in a standing position. I also realized that there were some downsides with a stand alone lifting surface as it required the purchase of new drawers, free-standing file cabinets, etc.

I could find nothing simple that would just sit on top of my existing desk, so that's generally where the idea for the Desktop Elevator came from.

CWM: What are examples of health scenarios where an employee would benefit from a Desktop Elevator?

JB: There are several and back health is only one! I didn't realize it at first, but there are many studies that show just how unhealthy in so many ways it is to sit. One researcher even said "Sitting is the new smoking". and I truly believe that. Back pain and disc damage is obviously one since the stress on the lumbar discs is 50 percent higher when sitting.

There are also a variety of cardiovascular issues that are coming under attack now as studies have conclusively linked them to sitting. Sitting is the ultimate sedentary position and it blood flow is drastically reduced.

For heart health and cardiovascular health, the people most at risk are the ones sitting around on their tails all the time. Blood pools and leads to unhealthy clots. Diabetes, obesity and colon cancer are other health issues linked to too much sitting.

When you're sitting you're not burning very many calories. When you're standing, your blood's flowing, your metabolism is up.. You don't want or need to stand it 100 percent of the time, and that's why it's important to have a desk that moves up and down to accommodate both sitting and standing positions.

When you want to stand, you stand. Whenever you want to sit, you sit. Over just a few weeks, it becomes more natural and comfortable to stand at least half the time - without trying!

CWM: How does this promote movement and the workplace standard of being sedentary for long periods of time?

JB: A lot of people go to work and sit 6 or more hours, then rush home to resuming sitting in front of a television. Sitting has generally been the workplace standard for many jobs. But if you can spend some productive time standing at your work desk, you're looking to drastically improve your overall health, productivity and sense of well being.

CWM: In what industries or workplace settings are you finding a demand for your product?

JB: Certainly those businesses that require people to sit at a desk for a good part of the day are the ones that need this product the most. Many people go straight to a cubicle for most of the day and sit to their own detriment. There are many companies that need employees to do data entry or phone work.

Any office environment that requires their people to be in one general place a lot of the time should consider a sit and stand desk. It's almost a wellness program in a single product. Smart companies are finding it's the most cost-effective investment in employees they can make. The payback is immediate.

The demand for adjustable height desks is driven by the need to improve the overall health of employees and in return, they see higher productivity, higher profits, happier employees, improved retention and reduced absenteeism.

CWM: How is the desktop elevator benefiting wellness programs, and can they measure the ROI of the wellness program through the product?

JB: Before my work with Desktop Elevator, I was the president of a medium-sized company and would have jumped on this product if it was available. The mindset of a successful employer naturally tends toward the bottom line. Any evaluation of ROI starts with the cost, which in this case is about $900.

Return measurement comparisons can be made in many areas including productivity, employee health insurance claims and costs, workers comp losses, employee retention/turnover, temporary help costs, and in the final analysis, profits. ROI will be different for every company, but for those with seated workers it will be very high as the product pays for itself quickly and continues to provide high value returns over the life of the product.

The number of years of that product life depends on how the product is used, but we do know for example that the sophisticated gas pistons which provide the movement have been tested in excess of 20,000 cycles.

CWM: As a company you have a guarantee policy, and from an employer standpoint that's something that is a huge benefit for implementing the product. Can you tell us a little bit more about your policy and how employers feel when they purchase a guaranteed product from you?

JB: This is a product that is used daily, often for eight or more hours. With the significant amount of time employees are utilizing their Desktop, we're pleased to offer a 1 year guarantee against defects or workmanship. But we also want employers to be happy with the product and with bulk orders are willing to extend that time.

We have a lot of confidence in not only the quality but also the idea that once people have it they won't want to give it up. The product is designed to last and it's gratifying to see it improve employee health and wellness in the workplace.

CWM: Once the desktop elevator is in place, how easy is it to use? How do employees make sure they're using it properly and maximizing their health?

JB: It's extremely easy, and that's one of the advantages. Employers don't have to replace their existing desks or buy new filing cabinets. The Desktop Elevator simply sits on top of the existing desk. It is easy to put together and is completely green. Nitrogen gas pistons are used rather than electricity, which allows for the desktop work surface to move up and down effortlessly.

To maximize health benefits, it is important for an employee to adjust the height to custom fit their personal needs. And importantly, a dual surface allows the monitor to be set at a different height than the front work area.

As an employer, this product represents an opportunity to implement an extremely cost effective strategic wellness initiative with multiple benefits that's also customizable to fit 99% of employees and can be transferred from one employee or department to another.

CWM: Thank you so much for your time John, we look forward to seeing Desktop Elevator at the 2012 Employer Healthcare and Benefits Congress, Oct. 24-26 on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale/Miami.

About John Burkhalter

After 33 years in the insurance industry, John retired in 2005 as CEO of THI Holding Company. Having experienced back problems for almost 30 years, he ruptured a lumbar disc in 2007, which required a diskectomy and partial laminectomy. His search for products to help in recovery and throughout physical therapy exposed the need for a better sit-and stand desk.

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