Never one to miss out on workplace trends, your employer has invested in standing desks for everyone on your team.
Everything was fine at first, but now you've discovered that your lower back isn't so hip to this trend. So you pull up a chair, sit down and go back to work. That is, until one of your co-workers just has to say something about your butt being in a chair.
"Why are you sitting down? Standing is so good for your circulation," this co-worker says as he ticks off the list of standing desk health benefits. "I've been standing all day. But, to each their own, I guess. I notice Jane has been standing up all day, too. Good job, Jane. You rock!"
Congratulations, your overly-competitive co-worker has just issued a standing challenge to see how long everyone in the office can stand at their desk.
Stand In the Place Where You Work
You quietly wonder how to respond to this co-worker's comments as he checks his FitBit stats and proceeds to do some standing desk yoga. He's still standing, better than he ever did. Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid. He's still standing after all this time.**
Now the question is: why has this co-worker turned standing at a desk into a daily competition? What is going on here?
Sadly, as I've blogged before, today's workplaces have become hotbeds of overly-competitive behavior. It's the everybody-gets-a-trophy fitness generation meets there's an app for that. Employees want to get a leg-up on their co-workers at all times. This may include competing over how long they've stood at their standing desk today compared to everyone else in the office.
The conference room meeting risks turning into a standing-room-only event now, too. "No, I don't need a chair, thanks. I'll just stand against the wall," this co-worker announces. Colleagues seated around the table quietly wonder if they should stand up next time, too. Suddenly, there's a sense of workplace podiatric peer pressure to stand in the place where you work. Now face West.
On the one hand, this matter is so intensely trivial you can't believe you're allowing it to bother you. On the other hand, your co-worker's comments could feel like a vague thorn in your side, particularly if a sports injury has come back to haunt you since the standing desks arrived. Maybe you have foot problems that no shoe insert can solve these days. How do you stand up for yourself in this oddly-competitive situation?
Standing Up For Yourself
You may feel like you need to explain why you have chosen to go back to festival seating. After all, if you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything, right? Stand up for your right to sit if you feel so compelled. However, you never need to offer your co-workers an explanation, especially if it's medical.
The bigger issue here is how to put the annoyingly-competitive co-worker into better perspective, because if this co-worker isn't keeping stats on standing, then another co-worker will be keeping stats on something else even more trivial. It's your job to decide what is worth competing over, and what is not worth any investment of your competitive energies.
Protip: your workload is your first priority at work. Let everything flow from there. Stay focused on what's truly important. Besides, another co-worker is waiting with bated breath to tell you how she has already consumed her daily quota of bottled water. The competition never ends, does it?
** Thanks, Elton John. You rock!