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.
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.
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.
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”.
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).
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.
- Lifehacker articles on standing desks
- Ikea DIY standing desks
- More Ikea DIY desks from Lifehacker
- 10 more standing desk ideas
- A round-up of scientific studies on standing desks