My standing workspaces

I’ve been a fan of the standing workspace for some time now having started trying out standing arrangements in late 2012.  After reading about the idea off and on for a couple of years before I was finally convinced to give it a try myself when I read this article. I’ve found a lot of benefits from working at a standing desk and find it now my preferred set-up.  I’ve even read that standing for an extra three hours every weekday for a year can expend the same energy as running 10 marathons. So here is a round-up of my standing desk efforts to date.

First experiment

My first experiment with a standing desk set-up was when I working as a contractor for a WA government IT project.  I’d discussed the idea of a standing desk with a couple of managers on site, but the best answer I got was that it wouldn’t be OK with OHS to hack together a standing desk but without a medical reason, they wouldn’t provide a proper one.  Then someone suggested to just set one up and take it apart if OHS complained, which was good enough for me.

The first iteration (which I can’t find a picture for at the moment) was using boxes to raise my monitor, keyboard, and mouse on my desk.  I had this set-up for a month or more and was OK.  It took a few weeks to get used to it and my feet did hurt at first but once I did it felt much better overall.  I found my concentration and creative thinking improved.  I still had a chair and a low desk to sit at occasionally but I quickly found I didn’t need it so much.  I found the biggest problem was the office I was in had very thin industrial carpets over concrete and that added to fatigue and sore feet.  I had meant to get a cushioned mat of some kind but hadn’t got round to it.

Standing workstation on a cabinet at Department of Health.

Later I moved my set-up on to a mid-high cabinet behind my desk.  This was almost exactly right though was probably about 2-3cm too low, but not enough to be an issue.  When I needed to move desk during a team reshuffle I asked if I could be moved to a spot with a cabinet and ended up with my last configuration in the picture on the right.  There I had my standing workstation and a normal desk on the left where I could write notes or have phone calls.  That worked very well.  I moved the whole set-up when the project moved to the CBD and was very happy with it. I’d even got one of the best views on the floor as I could use a space in the corner of the building that wasn’t useful for a sit-down space.

Second experiment

At PDC Group with a classic, do-it-yourself box-on-desk setup.

Once I’d left the project, I’d worked as a consultant at a resource construction company for a few months where it wasn’t going to happen and then at another engineering design company called PDC Group.  At PDC I was desk-bound again at first then after a year or so there I got too frustrated by the lack of energy and set up another makeshift standing space.  Using strategically placed shelf, boxes and adjustable monitor stands through a couple of iterations ended up what you can see on the left.  Once again there was a bit of OHS concern but I was largely left to use it.  Around the IT department it was fine, people didn’t have a problem with it but visitors from other departments would ask the odd questions such as “do you have a back injury?” to which I’d answer along the lines of “not yet and I don’t plan to”.

Missed opportunity

After PDC I ended up at a fabulous little company called Decimal.  This was a kinda start-up company and had a nice flexible software development culture feel.  The guys there were all happy for me to set up a standing workspace so I was planning a proper one.  But I got moved, busy then moved on before I could organise it.

Setting up at home

While working at PDC and Decimal, I was able to do a lot more working from home for a change and started looking at setting up a standing thing there.  I’d not had much reason to have the set-up there before as I did more of my computer work at work, but with remote working and starting to try and do more in the evenings, I started to miss standing there.  I tried a few different set-ups using the kitchen counter with boxes and small stools and then using the ironing board (OK, adjustable but a bit unstable).

Setting up at home, mobile and removable.

Recently I’ve taken an old wooden high chair and re-purposed it by taking off the back and table as seen on right here.  Works well enough on the table and I can take it down and store it away when finished.  The only problem with it is that not being permanent it gives the space a bit of a lack of focus and the keyboard shelf doesn’t fit the mouse so I need a little stool for that.  I’ve got two laptops I’m using at the moment so I’ve got the second one on another stool.  The set-up is very useful at the moment but I’d like to make a proper one.

Hopefully, my next employer will be supportive of a standing desk and I can get around to setting up a proper one at home too.

Further reading



One thought on “My standing workspaces

  1. hey damien – meant to reply for awhile now but I have this minimalist approach to social media platforms! Anyway – yeh I’m a big standing convert as well although I like having the flexibility to be lazy some days. I’ve got one of those adjustable standing thingy stands so you move it up and down fairly easily. It’s a hell of a lot better than always standing.

    Best wishes


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