Standing Up

I have converted to a standup workstation. To be clear, this is a motorized, height adjustable desk, used mostly in the standing standing position.

I won’t make this about why you should try a standing workstation, but I’ll share my motivations and lessons learned, on the chance that it may inform your own debate.

Why did I do it?

  • Posture.
    • My sitting posture is terrible, based on decades of bad habits. At a desk, I rarely sit in the “proper” position. I’m either heavily reclined (often twisted with my feet up on the desk), or heavily forward, forearms completely on the desk. I’ve never used a keyboard tray.
    • My family is seeing the benefits of regular visits to a Rolfing structural integration specialist. A tenet of of that practice is the alignment and balance of our musculature. We are more balanced standing than sitting, so constant sitting works against the alignment.
  • Walking. When I’m on the phone, I can’t seem to sit still, and I’ll pace back and forth for the entire call. It’s easier to make that transition, as well as adding walking to thinking interludes.
  • Activity. As I’ve been trying to become more active to reverse my slow weight gain over the last 20 years, the extra 50 cal/hour is a nice bonus.
  • True, there are plenty of articles about the hazards of sitting all day. Those weren’t huge motivators, other than they point out the other aspects above

What effects have I seen?

  • I move more. Rather than adjusting between different sitting tilts, I can rock on my feet, side to side, front to back, stand on one leg, etc. It feels good.
  • I sit to take breaks. Yes, it’s tiring to be on your feet for long stretches. But it makes so much sense to reverse the “best practice” of “stand and stretch every hour” with “take the weight off every hour.”
  • Related to that, in terms of practicing focus, it’s easier to tie the break to the activity of sitting, and the break is over when the position changes. It’s a good mental hack.

How did I do it?

  • I started with boxes on a side of my desk, such that I could move my laptop easily between a standing and sitting configuration. I didn’t deal with integrating the 2nd monitor during this experimental stage.
  • I gradually increased the duration of the standing sessions until I was going nearly the whole day.
  • As I did this, I became convinced that a pure standing station was unsustainable, so I shifted my sights on motorized, elevating desks.
  • I learned that the screen positions relative to desktop/keyboard height is different standing and sitting. This informed my decision to add adjustable monitor arms to the mix. (The Ergotron dual arms are a beauty to use; I wish everything were made this solid)
  • I bought my first pair of Crocs, at the recommendation of a (standing workstation using) friend as the best padding for foot fatigue.
  • I ended up buying a desk from Conset (via Jaymil). They have a wide selection, and are less industrial looking than the venerable GeekDesk. (Apparently, I’m not the only one attracted to this, because there was an almost 4 week backorder for all US distributors)
 What about a treadmill (aka walkstation)? I haven’t ruled out the possibility, but I’m hesitant for a few reasons:
  • Again, a variety of positions is key, and moving a treadmill out of the way would be annoying
  • I read that consumer treadmills aren’t rated for a duty cycle of such continuous and slow operation. Replacing motors sounds like a bother
  • Noise – the constant hum would be annoying.
Other considerations (you’re still reading?)
  • My desk accessories are most mostly unchanged from my previous post. Part of this transition though is a continued drive to minimize clutter on the desktop, so I continue to refine the wiring and other required bits.
  • In the raised position, the desk has some jiggle. This is amplified to the monitor arms, so the there’s wiggle of the screens, depending on my typing vigorousness. I need to move the desk off the carpet and straight onto the concrete floor, and I think this will be minimized.
  • There was some debate about not putting it in the corner (with my back to the door). It’s very bad feng shui (which I don’t put any stock in), although I strongly sympathize with our lizard brain’s desire to avoid the surprise attacks. But as a telecommuter, I don’t have any enemies near by.


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