Standing Desks

I’ve been working with a standing desk for well over 5 years now, it was probably 2012 when I started.

I used a plank of wood balanced between a recycling box and a stack of magazines as a test run for 2 weeks. It was fine, my boss modified my desk for me.

I’m now on my 3rd “custom built” desk (think normal desk, with a coffee table screwed on top of it) and 2 more of my colleagues have got them as well in the office (sporting the Mk4 and Mk5 desks, much better than my Mk3)

I built a desk at home as well, again just adding more stuff on top of a normal desk – then I moved house and I’m now working on my very first pure standing desk.

It’s a wall mounted floating desk, that folds away so it doesn’t take up much space in the room. I’ll include a gallery with some pictures at some point showing the different types of desk I’ve used over the years.

The following are some points that I think will be useful to all who want to give it a go (note some are general points about any desk, not just standing desks)

Bad back, bad shoulders:

I sit at my colleague’s desks regularly for about an hour to help with code, and my shoulders are always burning by the end of it.

Standing up keeps my back and shoulders upright and stops me from slouching. It’s so much better for me.

The key is building it to the height of my elbows when they are bent to use a keyboard. I don’t have to dip down or stretch up to reach it.

My desk has helped with back and neck problems

Monitor stand

Get a monitor stand, not just for a standing desk, any desk. My eye level is slap bang in the middle of the top row of monitors AND THIS IS FINE… all the content I work on is at the bottom of the code editors, or command line windows, or the console in Chrome. I don’t really need “File, Edit, Tools” etc… keyboard shortcuts mate. So it might not work for you, but move the monitors to THE HEIGHT THAT IS COMFY FOR YOU!

Tower/PC not on the floor

I’ve got my actual tower PC sat on it’s side on the lower desktop. All cables go out the back of the riser, and there is space for them to all plug into the extension lead. This keeps all my cables off the floor, the only thing I have dropping down is the plug and the ethernet cable. It’s tidy.

It’s not on the floor so it doesn’t suck up loads of dust!

Take sitting breaks

I also tend to keep a stool under the desk so I can go and join colleagues at their old fashioned sitting desks, although like I said, I can’t stay sat down for long before my back and shoulders start to ache.

You do need to sit down and pause a few times through the day. Lunch break, working with colleagues, going to the toilet. You can’t do a full day straight, but I find I don’t need to pause for long.

So sit comfortably, relax your body, read/discuss/brain storm, you are resting your legs.

Don’t wear shoes (or at least wear good ones)

I stand with no shoes on, and currently the new office has a nice soft carpet so I’m quite happy just in socks. The old office had a harder floor, I just bought myself a 50cm square piece of chair foam to stand on. It’s fine, I can happily get through my 10 hour days on it. Apparently Judo crash mats work just as well, but the chair foam is cheap and does the job perfectly.

Don’t stand completely still

When you’re at your desk and don’t stand with a 50/50 weight distribution. Basically move around, stay comfy, change positions – like if you worked in a shop, you’d move around a bit. Maybe 50/50 straight upright works for you, but I basically don’t stand in the same position for longer than a decent album’s worth of time, and that’s only if I have to do some headphones-on, ignore-everyone-else style coding.

Fidget basically, keep blood flowing (same on a sitting desk)

Standing also burns more calories

Following on from the previous point, this whole thing has helped keep some of those desk snacks off my waistline.

Standing keeps you awake

As well as the previous points , standing keeps you awake in the afternoon lull, helps keep you alert. I find I move around the office a lot more and that helps my workflow in many ways – I have a little stroll to work over a problem in my head, I go collect stuff from the printer as I print it instead of letting it pile up, I fill a few minutes here and there with something that needs doing away from my desk. This gives my body a chance to flex a bit, and my mind gets to re-approach a problem slightly fresher

Sat down, in the past, I’ve dozed off leaning on my hands… only occasionally