Experimenting with standing desks

(From May 12) People in IT tend to spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer. Unfortunately, sitting is bad for you, so we’ve been looking for ways to improve the structure of our work.

I came down one morning to find the router on the kitchen table – not the networking kind of router, but the woodworking kind of router that spins at more than 20,000 rpm. You see, W- built a bench-top router table last year. The router table houses the router and has a long edge that fits into the Workmate vise for stability. With the router lowered and the long edge set along the kitchen table’s edge, the router table turned out to be about the right height for a standing desk for W-.

I’m shorter than W- is, so I needed a footstool to correct the ergonomics of our router-kitchen-table combo. This was inconvenient, but we found another option for me: the kitchen counters. With my slippers (Kaypee Islander flip-flops with thick soles and comfortable support; I’ve had them for years), I found it easy to type on my computer throughout the day.

W- reported that the printer downstairs also provides a platform at the right height for a laptop. Once you start looking around for surfaces at about the right height, you find many.

If standing works out, the next step might be to find a semi-permanent place, maybe even hook up a monitor for even better ergonomics.

Doesn’t take a lot of money to experiment with standing desks. Just a little creativity. =)

2011-05-12 Thu 19:09

  • Joel Garza

    I constructed a makeshift desk unit for my treadmill that I am reasonably happy with, but it was difficult for me to mouse and type while walking. Well, browsing and Netflix is great, just not productive, getting paid sort of work. Using an iPod or iPhone as a handheld touchpad helped a bit, but typing was still pretty cumbersome. Next step would be to try some sort of voice recognition software if the noise isn’t too much. :-)

    For my standing desk, I bought a combination of 4″ and 8″ cement blocks to raise the table to the appropriate height. Between the two, I think I spent $60.

    Getting a floor mat can help make the transition easier on your legs and feet.

    • Floor mat for cushioning, I guess? My slippers have pretty good cushioning and support, so that works for me. I’ve never tried working while on a treadmill, although I’ve heard good things about recumbent bicycling+working from friends who’ve tried it. We probably won’t dedicate any time and space to specialized exercise equipment, though. =) Glad it works for you!

  • Arjen Wiersma

    Hi Sacha,

    One of my colleagues, when I worked in San Francisco early this century, had a desk she can adjust in height from sitting to standing… quite awesome to see and it helped her with her back…

    You can probably find them online somewhere…



  • I’ve been using a standing desk for the past few weeks too! I would LOVE to get an adjustable one like GeekDesk, but they’re pricey.

    Instead, I spent $25 at AutoZone for a couple jack stands and made a DIY standing desk.