A month ago I converted from a sitting desk to a standing desk. Since making the change, I’ve learned the good and the bad, and like most that have switched to a standing desk, have come across a few small surprises along the way.
Our bodies weren’t really designed to sit as much as we do. I think what really even got me interested in the ‘standing desk trend’ was an infographic, Sitting is Killing You (link to original location, but image was reported broken there, so click here for a direct copy of the infographic image). It has stats in it like: the average person sits over 9.3 hours a day, and what sitting for long periods actually does to your body. The New York Times had a write up on sitting and health as well.
How is that for an attention getter?
It is easy to blow stuff like that off though. For me, I was really just tired of sitting so darn much. I get restless and start feeling super un-productive if I can’t get the blood flowing.
I have worked in several settings, but for at least the last 10 years, I have been in an office setting that involves sitting. I was the guy that would stand and pace while talking on the phone just to give my legs a break. Even worse, when I was running my own marketing agency for a couple of years, I was putting in very long hours and sat well over the average of 9 hours a day at some points.
So I made the switch 30 days ago. Cold turkey.
Let’s cut to the chase. Standing desks, the custom ones, are pretty pricey. They look worthwhile, but there are tons of creative alternatives. Just look at all of the great standing desk ideas on sites like Lifehacker.
When I made the decision I couldn’t bear to sit any long, I came across Greg Meyer’s standing desk post after his experience after two weeks. I liked his style of standing desk. It is simple! An Alvin Opal drafting table that you can buy for around $180. I got mine at Blick Art Materials.
Pros and Cons of using a standing desk
First, the pros:
- Feeling of freedom when standing and being able to move around
- Focus on the task at hand – I find myself drawn in more to my work
- Posture – My posture feels better and more upright
- It is welcoming – It feels amazing walking up to the desk and just start to work. No chair to push out of the way. Cheesy, I know, but it is very zen like.
- Encourages productivity by more intentional work
A few cons, or rather things to be aware of:
- Your feet can get tired – Standing in one spot for a long period of time probably isn’t that great either, so you will need to balance back and forth a little and pace if needed. Take a lunch break and sit then to rest your feet. (Ironic I know)
- Takes time to adjust – Like anything new, sometimes making something a new routine can challenge you. In this case it is positive.
- Sit breaks sometimes needed – It seems ironic, but sometimes during a phone call, I will need to sit. To fix that I got a drafting chair. I only use it when needed, but it is less than an hour overall.
Is standing while working worth it?
So… would I consider switching back to a sitting desk? No way. I love this new way of working. I honestly feel like it has given me a boost in productivity. Since I love what I do, even if what I do forces me to spend several hours a day indoors working in an office setting, and given I have a choice like this, standing desk it is.
The best part about it, is that even after standing all day, I still have enough energy to go running, or hiking, or hang out with the family, it isn’t as tiring as you’d think.
If you are in an office setting that might fear ridicule from co-workers. Understandable, but who cares? They will probably follow suit at some point anyways.
UPDATE: Follow Up After 2 Years of Standing Desk Use
Update on October 27, 2014:
2 years after originally writing this post, it is evident, standing desk use is more than a trend. It is indeed here to stay. Look at all of the new standing desks, accessories, Kickstarters, and more. Also all of the people aside from myself illuminating the benefits.
I thought it would be appropriate to put a quick update in about what I’ve learned after 2 years:
- Rotating between sitting and standing is key. Don’t stand all the time if you can help it. I now swear by using a height adjustable standing desk.
- Use an anti-fatigue mat. Many early commenters said they recommend a gel mat. I agree, such a key part to the standing experience.
- Spread the word. Too many people are suffering sitting so spread the word about how easy it is to switch.
In March 2014, I launched StandModern.com, a community and online store based on modern standing desks and accessories. We currently have standing desks, conversion kits to use on existing desks, and anti-fatigue mats. Everything on there is vetted by veteran standing desk users. We are picky about what we curate. Check it out and if you hear about great products, let us know. We want to build a strong community and promote standing desk use for everyone!
Have you considered switching to a standing desk? Do you have a similar, or a different experience?
(photo credit: Beth Scupham)