Four Letter Nerd

Standing Desks: a Brief Love Story

If you’ve surfed the interwebs much, I am sure you have stumbled across the next big, but surprisingly old, thing – standing desks. I had been searching for ways to be more productive at work when I found an article an article on the Art of Manliness detailing the benefits of the standing desk. After reading about all of the the benefits of standing while working, I decided to give it a shot.  After all, if it was good enough for Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Jefferson, and Dwight Schrute (momentarily), surely it would be good enough for me.

Of course, actual standing desks are incredibly expensive, and for me to get one at work would have taken an act of Congress, so I had to MacGyver one using plastic shelving and a table saw. Surprisingly, I was able to come up with a pretty decent rig without losing an eye via plastic shrapnel.  Thus began my six month love affair with standing desks.

standing desk

There are a lot of benefits to working while standing, the biggest being productivity and health. It turns out “slouched” is not an ideal posture for us humans to be in, assuming looking like an arthritic Quasimodo is not on your list for long term goals.  Standing while at work also helps combat serious health issues like heart disease and Wilford Brimleism (diabeetus), as well as less lethal (but still pretty crappy) ailments like lower back pain.  There are even studies out there that show the amount of time us average automatons sit in our chairs could possibly be taking years off of our lives.  What I am trying to say is, your office chair might actually be out to kill you, rather than just jerking your head back by grabbing your headphones (it’s not an accident, chairs murderous multitaskers).  Being able to rid yourself of these maniacal murderers is a huge weight on the metaphorical scales of pros and cons.

While not dying is a HUGE pro, standing while working is also supposed to help you be more productive.  Sitting down for extended period of times engaging only your brain and index finger can lead to bouts of lethargy and fatigue, which in turn leads to decreased production.  Also, slouching over your keyboard staring into the endless labyrinth that is the world wide web decreases blood flow, which can also have a negative effect on you and your output.

All that being said, I did find some cons to the standing desk during my six months of use.

My standing desk protocol was about a 70/30 split between standing and sitting.  While working on the computer I would stand, and while I was reviewing paperwork I would sit.  It worked out surprisingly well since it allowed me to slowly acclimate to standing for longer periods of time.  In the first few weeks I did notice an increase in energy, but productivity was largely the same.  Any uptick in output could be attributed to everyone being able to see my monitors – it’s a lot harder to browse Facebook when every passer by (including your managers) can see what you’re looking at.

Eventually, my place of employment shifted to a largely paperless environment, which meant my 70/30 split ended up being more of a 95/5 split.  At the same time we shifted to almost exclusively paperless files, we also instituted mandatory overtime.  So not only was I now standing 95% of my day, I was also working 9-10 hours a day.  My lower back pain did subside, but any respite in back pain was soon made up for by knee pain and mental exhaustion from a constant barrage of condescending questions (trust me, there will be a ridiculous amount of condescending questions).  It is true that you can get a floor mat that takes some of the stress on your knees, but the condescension levels rarely dissipate.

I think standing desks are definitely a viable option to the health oriented office worker, BUT the success of your standing desk adventure largely depends on your work environment.

I wanted to love my standing desk, and there for about six months, I think I did.  But alas, it just wasn’t meant to be.  If you are interested in trying out standing desks, but don’t want to break the bank, take a look around the internet.  There are plenty of awesome DIY ideas out there that will allow you to try out standing, without a substantial investment.

Have you ever tried standing desks? Let us know in the comments!

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Cam Clark

Cam is a husband, father, and a fan of many things. In college, he wrote his senior thesis on Mythological, Philosophical, and Theological Themes in Star Wars, and now spends his days causally specializing in Star Wars, Tolkien, and cubical work. No relation to Bill Clark.

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