Alternatives for Standing Desks


image courtesy of Anderlyn Desks

After writing Are Standing Desks Healthier Than Sitting? I decided to try it, with a quick and dirty setup of an old draughting table. I am only four days into the experiment and consider it way to early to evaluate (some say that it takes two weeks to adjust) but discovered a few other quick (and not so dirty) ways to try it out if you don't happen to have an adjustable table around.

One interesting solution is the Anderlyn Desk, a flatpack design invented by William Anderson and Carolyn Woodhall.

it is a patented design made from ABS plastic, (although they tell me that they are investigating other, greener materials). People of different heights need different size desks (since they have no adjustable chair) so the key here is that the desk adjusts in height from 10 to 14 inches, which they say will accommodate people from 4′11″ to 6′6″. (Which I don't get, unless it is because taller people have longer arms, so 19" of height difference only translates into 4 inches of desktop height difference). They have a quote that I like:

Ergonomics is the "science" of fitting the workplace to the worker . . . not the worker to the workplace.
.
They claim that standing desks:

  • Improve productivity

  • Increase energy

  • Have better circulation

  • Reduce wrist strain

  • Diminish back pain

  • Acquire mobility

  • Eliminate 3:00 p.m. fatigue

  • Minimize neck strain


More at Anderlyn Desk, available for $199.

The Anderlyn sits on top of a conventional desk, which is convenient but misses one of the main green benefits of a standing desk: It takes up less space. Besides losing the chair, you don't need knee space, and therefore can configure it completely differently.

Our TreeHugger Tech Diva works at a set of Staples steel and wire bookshelves that cost $90, only 30" wide 18" deep. Because there is no need for knee space, she is able to to get two computers, a monster multifunction printer, shredder, books and more in just three square feet; that is really tight.

I find my 42" wide by 30" deep temporary draughting table desk to be marginally tight in width (I have a big monitor) but way deeper than I need. It is too early to tell if this setup will work, but I am finding some remarkable things that come from being standing;

  • I used to just sit all day, and had to force myself to look up and out the window and occasionally get up and move around. Now, whenever I am putting a thought together and not actually typing, I move around, down the hall, out onto the deck, I am moving much more.
  • I don't just deal with stuff that is within reach, but get books off the shelves, things out of cabinets that are out of reach, don't worry if everything is within inches of my fingertips because it is easy to move to them. I could never have lived with a conventional desk this small, but because I am so much more mobile, I don't mind having papers, books, the phone or whatever further away.
  • But the biggest surprise of all is that without a chair putting me into a particular relationship with the keyboard and monitor, my body wants to move a bit further away from the monitor to be comfortable, and the reading glasses I have been wearing for ten years don't work; when I am wearing them, I have to lean forward to see. When my arms, my body and my eyes adjust to what makes each comfortable, I don't need my glasses! In fact, I can't even use the glasses. My reading prescription was set for being a particular distance away, and it seems that given the choice, with everything unrestricted, our bodies find their own place.

I will report in again at the end of two weeks, when my entire body should have adjusted to the experience. But right now, to answer TreeHugger Mike's question "why is a standing desk green?" I would have to answer:

  • It is supposed to be healthier, and I am becoming convinced that it is; I am moving a lot more and am not wearing my glasses.
  • It takes up a lot less space.
  • If you can comfortably and ergonomically work out of a ninety buck set of bookshelfs, it is certainly frugal.

Tags: Designers | Less Is More | Living With Less

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