We’ve covered picking the ideal office chair, fixing up your workstation with a treadmill, and choosing the right office desk. But there’s another alternative for the web worker that we haven’t touched on yet: standing while you work. While the idea of standing – instead of […]

We’ve covered picking the ideal office chair, fixing up your workstation with a treadmill, and choosing the right office desk. But there’s another alternative for the web worker that we haven’t touched on yet: standing while you work.

While the idea of standing – instead of sitting – at your desk may seem unnatural, it has some high-profile advocates, including most recently Jamis Buck of 37 Signals (not to mention Donald Rumsfeld). There’s even a whole industry devoted to selling you higher-than-usual desks, including Standupdesks.com and Biomorph.Advocates of stand-up desks claim they think better while not relaxing in a comfortable chair. They also say that standing rather than sitting all day promotes back health and reduces leg problems. Other folks advocate mixing standing, sitting, and walking around to make sure you aren’t in one position all day. One tip from those who do stand all day: use a gel-based floor mat, such as those from GelPro to make the change easier on your feet.

Home-based web workers with children (or small pets) might also benefit from the relative inaccessibility of the top of a standing desk.

Judging by the relative number of standing desk and ergonomic chair vendors, standing while you work isn’t a mainstream option for the web worker. But judging by the comments on the 37signals post, those who have tried it really like it. What about you? Have you experimented with a position other than sitting down for your web work? How did it work out for you?

By Mike Gunderloy

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  1. Thomas J Bradley Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    I’ve been using a standing desk for a couple years now and love it.
    I do wear running shoes when working at the desk for extended periods of time, makes my feet much happier.
    I keep a nice tall drafting chair near by, just in case I am feeling lazy or something.
    I use an Ikea Jerker desk, just with the desk part up high and the shelf below where I can put my printer and accessories.

  2. I did this in a startup environment in Brooklyn for about a year. I was having back problems at the time and also didn’t like the only available chair, so… problem solved! :)

  3. I use a standing desk in my home office. I originally had an Ikea desk and chair, but found my back didn’t much care for it. I couldn’t find a decent standing desk that didn’t cost an arm and a leg, so I sort of made my own.

    I incorporated a set of Ikea components for storage and height, and then added a 2’x4′ wood top that I bought on the cheap at my local hardware place.

    Not only do I get the standing benefits, but I can also doodle on my desktop anytime I want. It costs very little to change the top, and next time I may have some fun by painting it wild colors. I’ve got a shot of the desk on my Flickr.

  4. I’ve written quite a bit about my experience with searching, finding, modifying my stand up rig. It was a long time coming but man is it worth it. It’s “command central” and although it took about a month to not feel really tired in the legs/lower body after a long day…it’s the best thing I ever did. I have pics and explanations in depth on my site.

    Links to posts below



  5. I use an architect’s drafting table I got off craigslist for $50. It’s made of oak, with a cast iron mechanism and an easily replaceable top (though I use the one it had when I got it).

    I do stand on a gelpro mat and I have a footrest to put one foot or the other on to reduce back strain (ok, ok, a volume of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary–but then it is right there when I need it).

  6. In an ideal world I’d have an adjustable desk. I enjoy working standing, although I prefer to be barefoot. There are times though when I’d rather sit. Standing is good for if I’m feeling lethargic or overactive. But there are times when sitting at my desk is the best way to get things done. Most notably when I’m working by hand, sketching or writing, or reading from multiple reference materials.

  7. A recommendation to those who don’t already have back problems from sitting: remember to exercise those back muscles! Consider bridging, situps, yoga, stretching or other exercises to strengthen your back.

    A lot of folks seem to expect perfect health without any effort. It really doesn’t take much to maintain a basic level of fitness, and it can improve life in so many ways.

  8. We have 5 programmers and the head of project managers that use standing desk at my company. Many of us have been doing it for over a year. We love it. It the office it is great not only for the ergonomics but how it changes the atmosphere when there is someone else at your desk.
    When you are sitting and someone comes and needs to look at your computer there is that akward leaning over you thing going on. With a standing desk you can step back and they can step forward. Its is really nice. It also makes people come say what they need to say and go because they don’t feel right sitting down while you stand so they don’t stay long.

    I recommend getting a stool to put a foot up on so you change how your standing more often. I also would recommend going to home depot and going to their carpet section and buying a few feet of their standing mate roll. I love it and have a standing desk at the office and at home.

  9. NatalieMac Friday, May 2, 2008

    I worked at a startup where we had electric-powered adjustable desks. A small switch under the top could be switched to move the entire desktop up or down to just about any desired height. We could sit on the floor, sit in our chairs, or stand. It only took a few seconds to adjust the height.

    The desks were just Ikea desks that were modified with some hydraulics.

  10. I have read that the moment we sit our lymphatic system and our metabolism basically shuts off. Standing and fidgeting at the very least starts these body systems back up again. Walking however adds even more benefits I have found. I fashioned my own treadmill desk and have lost now approx 23 lbs in 3 months. It is a rudimentary set up with a board across the treadmill handles. It does present some issues. I get sore in my neck after a few hours because the desk is not the right height. I found an adjustable treadmill desk called TrekDesk with a really ingenious exercise ball chair at www,trekdesk.com that I am planning on buying. That will alleviate the ergonomic concerns, plus it is a lot cooler than what I have.

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