Standing desks: a view from the top
I’ve been toying with the idea of a standing desk for a while and I’ve finally taken the plunge. Why? Because sitting is slowly killing me. Chances are it’s probably killing you too.
As a UI designer I sit all day. I sit at my computer, I sit eating lunch. During downtimes I sit at the kitchen table or on the couch. I offset this by running for 5 hours a week, which when stacked up against the 50+ hours spent sitting seems feebly unbalanced.
I became interested in a standing desk after seeing a photo of this man. Wow. I’ve never seen someone look quite so much like they’ve just jogged up to their desk, done a nifty 250 one-handed press-ups before taking over the world. The health benefits he claimed, like improved concentration and feeling energised, really appealed.
Like most desk workers, I start the day renewed. Good posture, ergonomic setup, hot coffee. The 3pm post-lunch slump finds me slouched, grouchy, surfing the amoeba-like shallows of Twitter for cat gifs. I tried to counteract this lull by setting this time aside for emails and I found the most productive way to do this was standing up at the kitchen counter on my iPad. Perhaps there was something to be gained from standing?
Reluctant to splash cash on more freelance whimsy, I Googled for solutions. This article claimed a standing desk could be achieved with $22 parts from IKEA. I even went as far as going to IKEA and staring aimlessly at the little white packets of fittings. I admitted defeat; unless I shacked up with a builder, a DIY solution was clearly not going to materialise.
You can easily drop a grand on a standing desk. Some even go up and down electronically. I liked the idea of keeping my original desk and chair though, and still being able to sit on days when I was hungover or huffy. I toyed with this Kangaroo height adjuster but baulked at the price.
I eventually went for a Varidesk Pro and I’m really pleased with it. It accommodates a 27 inch monitor and super easy to operate – you click two handles at the sides to ease it up and down. The downside is looks – it’s been seriously hit with the ugly stick. If you are running a design studio where aesthetics matter, then this isn’t the kit for you. It’s also *incredibly* heavy, to the point it took two skinny developers several minutes to heave it onto my desk. At a cost of £300 however, it seemed like a good compromise.
I read lots of blog posts saying you had to ease yourself into standing but I stood for around 5hrs/day from day 1. I’ve experimented with shoes and found barefoot running shoes suit me best. My desk sits on carpet so I haven’t had the need for padding or a mat.
Now 7 months in I can’t see myself going back to sitting. The crippling neck and shoulder pain I suffer from has evaporated. I move around a lot more and if I’m stuck on a design problem then it’s easy to just walk away for a quick break. This BBC article also claims that standing for 4 hours a day is the “equivalent of running about 10 marathons a year” in spent calories.
Just think, I might look like this next year: