A Guide to Treadmill Desk Office Etiquette

July 18, 2020
treadmill desk etiquette

Dear valued colleagues,

As you know I have recently adopted the use of a treadmill desk in order to improve my productivity and stave off the ravages of “sitting disease.” Being as these are fairly new devices in the workplace not a lot is commonly known about the proper etiquette when approaching someone who is working on a treadmill desk. I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they’d be interrupting my flow or upsetting me if they needed to get my attention while I was walking, so here’s a helpful guide from the good folks at WorkWhileWalking on “Treadmill Desk Office Etiquette.”

How to approach someone who is working on a treadmill desk

When approaching a co-worker on a treadmill desk keep in mind that they basically have four different ways they could deal with an interruption:

1) Keep walking while looking at you and trying not to lose their work focus or their balance. This is OK if you just want to ask a really quick question like “Hey Dave, you want to join us for lunch in 15 minutes? We’re going Thai.

2) Step off the belt and onto the “landing strips” while the treadmill continues to run, but suspend their walking and pay full attention to you. This is a reasonable way to deal with something that might take a minute or two to discuss, but any longer than that and the straddle position may become uncomfortable. They might choose to do this if you ask them to check their calendar and book a meeting, for example.

3) Stop the treadmill and just stand on the deck while paying full attention to you. If you need a few minutes of their attention to talk something through in a little more detail they would probably prefer to stop the belt rather than stand on the “landing strips” for too long, so let them know “I probably need 5 minutes of your time, Dave.” Depending on the model, some treadmills can require ten to twenty button presses to restart, so users may be understandably reluctant to stop the belt unless they know the conversation is going to take a few minutes. Some models have a PAUSE button and can restart with one button push. You might try to find out what kind of treadmill they have, to help gauge their amenability to being interrupted.

4) Stop the treadmill and step off it, so they can speak with you at eye level. Certainly if a discussion is going to take more than a few minutes and the topic deserves “level eye-to-eye” conversation then it is most productive to just step away from the treadmill.

What I ask of you in order to help me be maximally productive at my workstation is to let me know which of these four modes you expect me to switch to when you come see me about something. For example, “I need only 30 seconds of your attention, keep on treading there, buddy” versus “I’m going to need about 10 minutes of your time to discuss a serious issue I discovered with the widget production report… is now a good time for you to take a break from walking?

And if you find that it’s a little intimidating to talk to me while I’m standing on my treadmill, 6″ higher off the ground than you’re used to seeing me, please don’t hesitate to ask me to pause the belt and step down.

I really appreciate your consideration of my new work style, and am also happy to let anyone else in the office try out my treadmill desk when I’m not in my office!


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