Despite the fact that Travis and I (though, mostly Travis) have been blathering on for years about the benefits of standing and treadmill desks, only in the past few months did I start regularly using a standing desk at my office. On a theoretical level, I was always a fan of the idea of a standing desk. I’d tried previously to concoct my own standing desk by stacking some boxes here and there, but the set up was never very good – my posture always felt awkward, the whole thing took time to set up and break down, and it all looked rather unsightly.
When I found out IKEA had come up with a more reasonable and cost-effective option, I immediately ordered one. The desk I have is called the BEKANT sit/stand desk (retail price: $500 USD); its height is electronically adjustable from 22″ to 48″ (way beyond the range that I could ever use as a male of average height) with the push of a discrete button. Although not all of my experiences assembling IKEA furniture were as seamless, I was able to go from opening the box to having a working desk in under an hour. Thus far, I’ve really had absolutely no problems with the desk. Moreover, after over a month of first-hand experience I’ve become absolutely convinced it’s the way most desk-bound people should work.
In terms of actually using the stand up desk, here’s what I’ve learned thus far.
1. You shouldn’t stand all day.
Switching back and forth between standing and sitting throughout the day is the way to go. The first day I had my desk set up, I ended up spending almost the entire day standing – I guess the excitement got to me. That evening I felt REALLY tired and barely had the energy to do a workout. The next day I started alternating between standing and sitting every 2 hours or so. Now, after a bit more experience, I’ve developed a natural rhythm to my day where I stand until I get a bit tired, and then sit until I feel sleepy and lethargic. On most mornings I start by standing – it just feels natural after a bike ride to the office.
2. You have greater focus while working and standing.
By standing, I can largely avoid the lull in focus and energy I often experience in the mid-afternoon – you know, that time when you feel like you need a siesta or another coffee, or perhaps a snack? Now if I happen to start losing focus, I just get out of my chair, raise my desk and within minutes I feel like I just threw back an espresso shot.
3. The screen(s) need to be elevated.
You really can’t work comfortably, with a decent posture, if your screen is at the same height as your keyboard. Its one thing to slouch on your chair, but when standing, your arms should be at 90 degrees to the keyboard, which would mean your neck os really tweaked to look at the screen. The solution? If using a laptop, get an external keyboard and elevate the laptop to a comfortable height. I normally use a split screen set-up, so that I have both my laptop screen and an additional monitor elevated while my keyboard rests comfortable on the desk.
4. A foot stool is a wonderful thing.
While standing at my desk, I noticed that after about 20 minutes, I’d start shifting my weight around from one foot to the other, and couldn’t quite get comfortable. I then decided to get a small foot stool (read: a stack of old textbooks) to elevate one foot at a time. This made a tremendous difference in how my back felt, my posture, and my ability to stand for longer duration. On this note, I am also investigating getting a cushiony rubber mat under my feet – the kind most cashiers at the grocery store stand on. I currently stand on a carpeted floor, which provides some cushioning, but more could be better.
Anyone else have similar experience with their standing desk?
I’ll do my best to update my experience at the 6 month mark.