Moving to a Standing Desk

First post in a long time.   Feels good.

Every once in awhile I hear about someone switching to a standing desk. I was curious and did a little research.  Most people rave about the experience, mentioning more energy, creativity and less lower-back pain because our bodies aren’t designed to sit for 8 hours in one place.  Humans are built to move.

I’m always up for a work-environment experiment so I decided to give it a whirl.  I’m typing this standing up right now, and so far it’s great.  I’m moving more, stretching more, and … well I’m dancing more too.  Who said work has to be boring right?

If you want to give it a shot there are many options depending on your space constraints and your budget.

  • Buy a standing or adjustable-height desk from a manufacturer.  This Amazon search will get you started.
  • Add shelves to a wall, and stand in front of the wall and work on the shelves.
  • Lay a flat surface (eg. door) across two supports.  This is what I went for.  While I’m trying out the idea, I wanted something inexpensive and expansive; I can now walk around to a different side of the desk and have a whole new work area, something I didn’t have with my little dedicated-use computer desk.

My setup:

2x Stanley FatMax Telescopic Sawhorse $35 each (make sure you buy TWO, they’re not sold in pairs)

1x solid, flat, unfinished heavy 32″ door from Home Depot.  $55

That’s it!

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41 Responses to “Moving to a Standing Desk”

  1. Sid Savara Says:

    Dude! That’s awesome. Now I want one.

  2. Kyle Chowning Says:

    I’ve known one, now two people, who have moved to this setup and recently thought of doing it myself due to frequent back pain from poor posture. Interesting. Thanks for the tip.

    kc

  3. Judd Vinet Says:

    Very cool. I still kinda think standing for 8 hours would be tiresome as well, but perhaps having both options would the best — stand for most of the time, and sit down when my feet get tired.

    Of course, the desk is pretty high now, so you’d need a higher chair. Maybe an adjustable drafting chair or something? Bec has one, and it goes up pretty high.

  4. icecreamforeveryone Says:

    @Sid Right on. The hardest part was figuring out what I wanted. Nice to hear from ya btw. :)

    @Kyle Add me to your list. That’s three “aye” votes.

    @Judd It hadn’t occurred to me to get a high chair. Doh. Good call.

  5. Greg Bulmash Says:

    I needed something like this when I was diagnosed with a ruptured disc, but I also have bursitis in my hip. I started going hot and heavy into web design when I had to quit Circuit City in ’96 because standing on the sales floor all day was causing me excruciating pain.

    My employer at the time of diagnosis set me up with a “sit/stand” set-up. That was an adjustable height keyboard and mousepad tray on a telescoping arm that mounted under the desk, combined with a monitor on an adjustable height stand. That way I could stand when sitting was uncomfortable and sit when standing was uncomfortable.

    I also traded my desk chair for a yoga ball, because it forced me to work my core muscles more to balance while I sat, reducing the pressure on my spine.

    If you can’t afford to do the whole desk adjustment, you can get a yoga ball for $9-11 bucks at WalMart or Target. Start with that and see if you don’t notice a difference in a couple of days.

  6. Kathy Sierra Says:

    I had so much trouble finding a ‘standing desk’ that I ended up at Home Depot with a “personal scaffold”, a 6 ft. tall adjustable scaffold like this: http://www.scaffoldexpress.com/Baker-Scaffolding-Multipurpose-Unit-p/se-smpu.htm (it cost $200.00 in the store). Had to get past the bright yellow, but it’s awesome, on wheels, and has the extra bars above for hanging things.

    I can’t sit in a “normal” chair because of my back, but my set-up is a little stranger than a standing desk (although I considered the treadmill idea), because standing hurts my back even worse — so in my case, I’m actually sitting on a saddle stand, in an actual saddle. Very strange, but the only thing that works. There are versions of “saddle chairs” you can buy that are often expensive, but in my case I happen to already own a stand and a saddle. (saddle chairs for non-horse folks: http://www.salli.com/www/index.php?id=19&L=1)

    cheers

  7. LurkTheProgrammer Says:

    I bought a GeekDesk a few months ago, and have found that I *love* being able to work both standing and sitting. Definitely not as inexpensive as your solution, but very economical relative to other ones I found. I’m with you on the door, though! I used a hollow-core for lighter weight, but the SIZE is wonderful! : )

  8. LurkTheProgrammer Says:

    I guess, technically, I just bought their adjustable-height *frame*, not the whole desk (at the time, frames were all they sold). http://www.geekdesk.com, if anyone’s interested.

  9. evgenya Says:

    So, Aaron, sounds like you are having more fun at your new desk, but are you actually more productive? Also, does this mean I have your Aeron chair?

  10. Aaron Says:

    @Greg Neat. I never knew how you ended up getting started online. I like the idea of a yoga ball, if only my desk was adjustable… did you stick with it? I’ve found just standing to be strengthening my core muscles too…

    @Kathy Wow. I had never heard of people working on a saddle, but it makes total sense. Where else would you need to best accommodate someone’s comfort (on long rides, etc) with great support, etc. Nice setup! It was great seeing you at sxsw btw.

    @Lurk isn’t the size great? I love all this surface area. Thanks for the link. The Geek Desk looks quite nice but I think the prices have come down lately, at least on Amazon. You can find similar desks for maybe $350 or so now.

    @evgenya you have my heart, you might as well have my chair too. ;)

  11. Lurk Says:

    @Aaron — We’re getting ready to buy another desk, but I’m not seeing what you’re talking about on Amazon at all. Are you sure those “$350 desks are sit-to-stand electrically-adjustable desks?? (..and full-size?). I’m not seeing them — just some manually adjustable much smaller desks. Maybe I’m missing something?

  12. Aaron Says:

    @Lurk ah gotcha. I glanced at the site and saw only clean lines and nice simple design. It didn’t occur to me there might be electrical assistance in there. I agree the $350 range probably doesn’t include that feature.

  13. Jason Says:

    Hey AA,

    When we switched offices at the DayJob, we made the decision as a management team to splurge and buy all of our reps out on the floor adjustable desks. They are amazing! They have some sort of air-hydraulic technology, and with a touch of the finger they raise / lower… and they make a PSHHHH noise that is kind of cool.

    With a 24/6 operation, desks are sometimes shared, so the practical benefit is that they can adjust for all body types, but even better is that people who are on the phone for 8 hours a day can get up and stretch / move around freely. (And they are FUN… that’s the best part).

  14. Aaron Says:

    @Jason – that sounds fantastic. I love it when productivity meets fun. :)

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  18. Greg Says:

    How tall can these sawhorses adjust? I read 39″ somewhere on the web. This would not be tall enough for me. Great cheap way to get a tall desk, though.

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  28. natalie Says:

    A good way to make the transition to standing easier is by simply getting an adjustable height desk, rather than a standing desk.
    At work I use a NextDesk and at first it was hard to get used to standing, so it was really convenient to just be able to push a button and lower it to a sitting height. But after just a week or so, I “built up my standing endurance,” and now I stand for most of the day, just taking short “sitting breaks” throughout.
    It’s been a really good desk so far, and I feel a lot better, both at work and after. I am standing taller, I feel less tired, healthier, and even lighter.
    Anyone else find that they’ve lost weight since switching to a standing or adjustable height desk?
    You can check out the one I use here: http://www.nextdesks.com
    (I use the Terra, it’s great.)
    Thanks for the post!
    NG

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