How We Work: Exercise and Stand Desks

Published on Wednesday, November 28, 2018.

by Cameron Gera (@gera-cameron)

A photo of ITProTV Team doing push ups


The culture of our engineering team here at ITProTV encourages healthy habits. We all enjoy taking care of our bodies, so why wouldn’t we want to do the same at work!? The two main ways we do this is through, you guessed it, team exercise and stand desks. There is a lot of research out there on what improves workplace morale, but for us, these two elements help our team be the happiest and most productive we can be.

Team Exercise

At the 50th of every working hour, we get a notification in Slack to exercise. The exercises we do vary day to day because we generally get sore (note that everyone does them to their own ability, and we try really hard to encourage, rather than discourage, each other). Some of the exercises include:

  • Push-ups
  • Crunches
  • Lunges

I know it sounds like a lot to do it every hour, but we have seen quite a few benefits of this:

  1. Wakes us up and gets our blood pumping
  2. Allows a break from the code we are writing
  3. Increased productivity

Crazy Stat! As a team, we have done over 21,000 push-ups since June 28th, 2018.

This experiment has positively affected our team here. With taking just a few extra minutes a day, we increased our work completed by 17% for a 4-month span. We have also encouraged other ITProTV employees to join our Slack channel and together we keep each other accountable in living a healthy lifestyle.

Stand Desk

For our engineering team, stand desks offer another great way to keep a healthy lifestyle. As a team, our use of the stand desk varies. I stand a few times a day and generally use a balance board, while one of my coworkers stands a majority of the day. If you’ve read our previous post on pair programming, you know that we spend a lot of time at stand desk pairing stations, so we tend to agree to stand or sit for a given pairing rotation.

As far as research is concerned, a stand desk allows your body to burn a modest amount of calories, but for us, it is so much more. The biggest benefits for our team are:

  1. Less stiff and stagnant
  2. Better posture
  3. Being prepared to fight any ninjas who may come into our space!

These benefits really help us stay healthy and get moving as a team. Together with exercising, our morale stays positive and we continue to see our productivity increase.

How To Get Started

Implementing these two ideas for your workspace will most likely vary in difficulty. For exercise, there is no real cost associated. All you really need to do is get your coworkers on board and pick a time of the hour that works best for each of you. I would recommend getting your whole team to do it, but if that’s not possible, have at least one other person do it with you. The accountability alone will increase your chances of success.

Getting stand desks may be a little bit more challenging because there is a cost associated. The cost of stand desks range from $400 to $1000+, but fear not, there are other alternatives, such as a cardboard stand desk or an adjustable height desktop stand desk. If you aren’t ready to fully commit, I would definitely recommend a cheaper option to see if a stand desk works for you.

As a team, we really only had one hesitation when beginning to exercise and that was the interruption of flow, but after months of this experiment, exercise is here to stay in our daily routine, so I would encourage you to take a leap and see if it works for you!

In Review

Over the last 5 months, our team has taken the time to invest in our health by exercising every hour and utilizing our stand desks. The results speak for themselves. Our moral is higher and our productivity improved. Our tactics may not work for you, but I would encourage you to take step towards implementing some of these ideas. I don’t think you’ll regret it!