My Small Victory – The Standing Desk

Today is a day that will live in cubicle infamy.  After six months, multiple conversations with “the powers that be”, and an EOHS assessment – I have been given a standing desk.

*Pause for applause*

never sit down never surrender

Never mind the fact that multiple people before me already received their own (in a much faster time frame I might add).  I still consider it a small victory, because it did require a bit of driving on my part.  The biggest hurdle to overcome is the trite baby boomer mindset of, “I never had such a thing, why do you need it?”

While that thought process has its place in life, I don’t believe this is it.  Society has progressed from a health and fitness standpoint in the last 30-50 years.  People used to smoke freely in enclosed public places.  We now know that second hand smoke can be just as bad as first hand.  The same is true for sitting on your ass for 40-50 hours per week staring at a computer while hunched over like Quasimodo.

Quasimodo hunched backTake one quick glance around your office and you’re guaranteed to see a lot of overweight / obese people that can barely climb a single flight of stairs. They likely move stiffly and complain about never being able to lose weight.  They’re also the same ones that binge eats cake, cookies, and pizza for every tasty treat Thursday or lunch meeting.  This glance should tell you one thing – something is wrong.  This isn’t how humans are supposed to look and move.

Mr. Burns - They are dying slowly

Sometimes you wonder if this is what your directors are thinking.

The world is embracing the movement phenomenon, and with good reason.  Get Up, get Active, the NFL’s Play 60 movement, etc.  Things like this are great for younger folks.  For cubicle jockeys however, it’s nearly impossible to offset the impact of sitting 50 hours a week, even if you exercise regularly.  The only real solution, other than completely changing careers, is to avoid sitting as much as possible.

That’s where the standing desk shines.  I love it.  I haven’t had a seat, other than to eat lunch, since I received the desk 3 weeks ago.  Yes, I lied in my opening paragraph about getting it today for dramatic effect, but, I held off on posting about it intentionally.  I wanted to use it for a bit to see if I really like it and if I felt any different.

My verdict:  If you’re already in normal or decent shape – a standing desk is awesome.  If you’re not in good shape, and you’re not used to being up and about, you will probably hate it unless you give yourself a long time to adapt, and you work on getting yourself in better shape in addition to using the desk.

Here is a list of pros that I have compiled:

  • I feel much less antsy throughout the day and night.
  • I am MORE productive because I take LESS breaks (when I sit a lot, I have to get up and move around a lot.  I don’t need to do that now)
  • Less pent up energy at night — I don’t feel as bad about watching TV in the evenings, and I am able to relax easier.
  • My morale has improved.  I greatly appreciate the fact that my organization did this for me, and it makes me feel better about working here.  Very few places would do this.
  • My right shoulder feels better.  Since removing myself from the plant environment and taking this job last year, my right shoulder has had a constant nagging pain.  That is virtually gone now.

Now for some Cons:

  • You’ll want to get really comfortable shoes or a stand up mat.  This would be tough on hard surfaces. (Luckily, my company was also generous enough to provide a padded mat)
  • You take fewer breaks, so you stare at your computer more.  I used to move around every 30-45 minutes.  Now that I don’t need to do that, I spend more time staring at the computer.  I need to remind myself to look away.
  • If you’re in poor shape and aren’t use to moving a lot, this will be a tough adjustment for you.
  • Anyone taller than about 6’2” might have a tough time getting their arms positioned comfortably.  I am 6’ 1” and I had to add a couple phone books under my keyboard and mouse to keep my arms at a comfortable level.

Overall I am very satisfied with the change.  I feel much better about myself now that I am not parked on my rear all day long.  For those that are curious, the standing desk I am using is a Varidesk Pro Plus 36.  It sits right on top of your existing desk and is fully adjustable. If you get tired of sitting, you can move it all the day down and pull up a chair.  This is great if you aren’t able to stand 8 hours straight, but you still want to get up a little bit.

That’s my take on the stand up desk.  If I start to hate it in a few months, I’ll update this post to reflect that.  I wouldn’t hold my breath though.

Lastly, now that I see stand up desks becoming more and more common, it gives me a small glimmer of hope that the culture in corporate America might be shifting a little bit.  That we, as a society, are progressing beyond the old office clichés that have driven workers mad and crushed souls for the last several decades.  It’s those silver linings that allow me to keep myself in the corporate game a while longer.

My standing desk gear:
Varidesk pro 36

Varidesk Pro 36 standing desk

Varidesk Pro 36 standing desk

 

Padded mat (smartstepflooring.com)

padded mat

padded mat from smartstepflooring.com

Crocs semi-casual shoes

crocs Swiftwater Leather Moc

crocs Swiftwater Leather Moc

Standing foot rest (otherwise known as a box that I laying around)

And…lots of phonebooks 🙂

2 thoughts on “My Small Victory – The Standing Desk

  1. Congrats on getting a standing desk, Andrew. I recently got one at work and have been searching for some tips and tricks. I find that alternating sitting and standing during the day makes adjusting a little easier. Have not worked up to standing all day yet. To keep myself from staring at the computer too long, I force myself to go to the water cooler once in a while, which helps.
    Like you, I have had a little trouble getting the keyboard in the right place. I have found a few solutions which are keyboard/mouse trays that sit on top of the desk and angle up. Maybe something like that would help your setup. The WorkEZ looks pretty good, but there are many choices.

    • Hey Dave, thanks for the comment!

      I’ve adapted pretty well to it over the last few months. I’ve learned that I have to force myself to take breaks, otherwise I just get lost in the work.

      I don’t have any trouble with the keyboard and mouse positioning now though! I found that stacking them on a couple of books got everything to just the right height. I’ve played with angling up the keyboard, and for me personally, it’s a little more of a strain on the wrists when compared to setting it flat.

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