Three Months at a Standing Desk, 5 Lessons Learned
For the last three months I have been using a standing desk. Time to share the results.
I am in reasonably good shape, and I don't have any clinical back, shoulder or leg problems. But even with my high-ergonomics desk chair, foot rest, and fastidiously arranged workstation setup, a day in a traditional desk left my lower back and shoulders sore. At the suggestion of my brother, I tried a standing desk.
I use two computers at my standing desk. One has a 13" display, and the other has a 30" display. This has taken some adjustment.
Here are five things I've learned in the last few months. <!--break-->
1. Shoes and stools: Lessons from the first two weeks
I won't lie, the first two weeks were tough. The conversion from sitting for 8 hours to standing for most of 8 hours is a challenge. But I learned two important things:
- Wear comfortable shoes. For me, these are running shoes with plenty of support.
- Keep a stool close at hand. The first few weeks, I used the stool quite a bit. I was surprised the other day to realize that I'd gone a full day without using it. Most days, I use it intermittently.
2. I move around a lot
At the standing desk, I don't just "stand". At the outset, I imagined myself standing stalk still. But the opposite is the case. I've realized that I reposition myself frequently, shifting weight from one foot to another, changing stances, or just taking a few steps from one side to the other. Most of the time, this is done unconsciously.
I don't know why this seemed so surprising a discovery to me. After all, when I sat in a chair I changed postures frequently, too.
3. I do feel better
I've noticed three benefits from the standing desk:
- My back and shoulders are no longer tight and sore at the end of a day.
- I am losing weight. I already work out, and I am not a big guy to begin with. But I've gone down a waist size since I switched to a standing desk.
- My overall energy level, even at the end of the day is… higher? I expected to be tired, but typically the first thing I want to do when I'm done with work is take a walk.
4. Continuous adjustments
5. Hardware limitations
The biggest frustration I've experienced has come from the tools at my disposal.
- I've had to cobble together my own desk, which is a pain.
- Peripherals like headsets have cord lengths that are not accommodating when you are standing a few feet from the computer.
- It's rare to find height-adjusting monitor stands and such. Most of those adjust about four inches, rather than a more accommodating 8" or 12".
Will I keep it?
Last week I spent an entire week sitting (I was at another office for the week). It was uncomfortable. I didn't like it.
So it seems that I will stick with the standing desk for the foreseeable future. Sure, on occasion I'll plunk myself down and work at a desk. But in my daily writing-and-programming life, I'll keep on my feet.