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7 Reasons Why You DON’T Want a Standing Workstation

Homemade Standing Desk Workstations
Behold Frankendesks!
Sources: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shrimpdesign
http://www.flickr.com/photos/designerbrent

The popularity of the sit stand desk and stand up workstation is booming! In this article we’re going to be reviewing benefits of standing desks, precautions to consider, and time saving tips to help you to easily find the best standing desk for your needs.

If you’re sitting at your desk right now, chances are you’ve read an article or ten that has you thinking maybe you should try a standing workstation. I mean that guy across the hall has one, the internet is filled with people spouting incessantly about how much they love their new frankendesk creation, and how can you argue with all the purported benefits listed in study after study?

But what if I told you that you’re only getting half of the story?

What if stand up computer desks are nothing more than over-hyped and over-priced fads that actually cause more problems than they solve?

Death By Chair

There’s no question about it. The vast majority of us are killing ourselves slowly by eating far too much, and moving far too little. Did you know that if you’re like me, and most other desk jockeys out there, you spend more time sitting down in any given day then you do sleeping?

  • Unfortunately for us recent studies like the one mentioned in an article “Sitting Kills” have shown that sitting 6 + hours per day increases our risk of death within the next 15 years by 40%!
  • If you’re an entrepreneur who’s trying to turn your late night small business hustle fest of a dream into a full-time gig, you’re probably spending more like 12-15 hours hunched over at a desk every single day! Think about the affects this has on your body.
  • Recent studies have even indicated that even adapting a more active lifestyle outside of your work life is simply NOT effective enough to combat the multitude of increased health risks to which sitting for long periods of time contributes.

Checkout this pretty impressive infographic from Visual.ly, which offers some pretty eye-opening statistics on the sedentary lifestyle of the modern office dweller.

Health Affects of Sitting All Day

Our Guide To The Best Sit-Stand And Standing Desks Currently Available On Amazon

Behold a Crazy Desk Movement is Born!

In response to many of these studies, and perhaps due in part to some people’s need to feel “trendy”, the crazy desk movement is now in full swing! A movement created and maintained by office dwellers who are focused on living more active lives, no matter how insane they look the the rest of the world. What this translates into is a plethora of progressive desk configurations, everything from the increasingly popular standing work stations that are the rage across the inter web, to desk stair steppers, and even a desk treadmill for those who are feeling REALLY special

The Treadmill Desk

Undoubtedly standing computer workstations are gaining popularity as employers embrace them as a healthier option for their employees, and the desk jockeys of the Earth seek to improve the common archaic 1950s concept of what an office should be like. But are they really all the cracked up to be?

If I’m a manufacturer and I can build you a desk for $100.00, or I can build an electronic adjusting desk and get your trendy friend to cough up $1,500.00, then guess what desk I’m building.

Business man in suit has back pain from standing at his desk

Should you try a standing workstation?

That’s something that ultimately only you can answer for yourself, BUT here are 7 considerations you should read before you make that decision.

  1. Cost – Cost is definitely a concern for many people and businesses alike. The simple truth is that the cost of your stand up desk could be as little $20.00 to as much as $1,500.00 for one of the adjustable electric models. The geniuses over at Ikeahackers.net have a do it yourself plan that costs as right around $29, that is still quite sleek and professional in appearance. Another option that helps to reduce the cost for a company is one that my own employer actually adopted. They purchased one standing work station for each department. If an employee feels like standing up and working for awhile they simply walk over to an open station and log-in to the network for an hour or so.  For an employer this is a great way to introduce the concept to see how it’s received, while controlling costs.
  2. Long Days – Most people work at least 8 hours per day, and that’s a significant amount of time to be on your feet. As the son of a pharmacist, a profession that used stand up desk long before they were cool, I can assure you that long days on your feet can lead to socks that even the family dog runs away from. Spending 8 to 10 hours standing can do a number on your body, especially if you’re not used to physical activity, and that can cause new aches and pains.
  3. Foot Pain/Soreness – One of the top complaints of people who’ve tried a standing desk is that their feet were extremely sore the next day. A pair of shoes that are pleasantly comfortable for sitting all day can start feeling like evil little pin cushions when you give them some real use. My suggestion is that you combat this in two ways. First, be sure to at least bring a pair of comfortable shoes with you to work that you can use while you are in the standing position. Secondly, you may want to spring for a padded floor mat, which adds an additional layer of cushion.
  4. Back Pain – Oddly enough one of the reasons many give for adopting a standing workstation is because of back pain that they believe is caused by working seated at a computer for so long. The simple truth is that any workstation that is not set up properly can and often will cause you to experience pain of some sort. Many people who I’ve talked with have reported more back pain after switching to a standing desk configuration. Remaining stationary in either the sitting position or the standing position causes constant loading on the lower back. Research has shown that standing in the same position for longer than 30 minutes may cause back pain, a reduction circulation, and increased risk for cardiovascular disease (see #7 below).
  5. Lack of Privacy – One of the benefits of a standing workstation is that it allows you to converse and collaborate with coworkers more easily. Of course, this also means that you lose a certain element of privacy when more people are able to both see and hear you, and you’re also more likely be blasted by the phone calls and conversations of others.
  6. Less Focus – Any of the above concerns can lead to a reduced level of focus. In fact one of the concerns employers often have when it comes to standing desks is not whether or not the change will improve performance, but whether it will kill performance completely.
  7. You’re Still Inactive – Even if you adopt a standing work station and it works out wonderfully for you, you’re just an inactive standing desk jockey instead of a sitting one. One of the keys to feeling less aches and pains, as well as avoiding the increased risks that plague the sedentary worker, is to become more active throughout your workday.  Dr William Haskell of Stanford calculates that simply taking 2 minutes out of every hour to walk and fill your water bottle, or talking with a co-worker down the hall, or running an errand can help you avoid gaining the caloric equivalent of 11 pounds over a decade!

Don’t forget Fit Desk Jockey Rule #1 from our post Workplace Safety – Stretching:

Fit Desk Jockey Rule#1: Take a moment to stand up and move every 30 minutes! Relax, recharge, refocus.

My Favorite Solution – The Sit/Stand Desk

I’ve tried several standing desk setups, many of which were my own Frankendesk configurations, but the one that I ended up going with in the end that I absolutely LOVE is the Ergotron 33-349-200 WorkFit-S Dual with Worksurface+. It allows you to effortlessly transition from sitting to standing and vice versa. Chances are it clamps right to the desk you’re already using (exactly what I did), perfect for the renegade desk dweller who’s ready to take matters (and their health) into his/her own hands. Just be ready for a sudden boost in office popularity, as co-workers clamber to give it a whirl for themselves.

From their headquarters in my home state of Minnesota Erogtron has been promoting wellness and improving efficiency since 1984 when it released it’s patented MacTilt, one of the first monitor tilt bases. Their solution for the standing desk versus sitting desk dilemma was to create a lightweight, economical, and easy to use WorkFit series of Sit-Stand desks. You can see the model I use in an upcoming video that I’ll be sharing on the Fit Desk Jockey Youtube Channel.

Some of the benefits of the Ergotron WorkFit-S desks are that they allow you to move effortlessly between standing and sitting throughout your work day, they’re relatively inexpensive at about $400.00, and they’re likely compatible with the desk or workstation that you’re already using.


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