How a Standing Desk Changed My Life

©. Michael Graham Richard
Standing Desk

© Michael Graham Richard

Lloyd has been writing a lot about standing desks over the past year. While on the first degree it's more a health issue than a green issue, on the secondary level it touches a lot of green issues; if a greener world includes more dematerialized/digitized goods and services, and if more of us work at desks and telecommute, we'll need a healthy way to work. As someone who spent 10+ hours per day sitting at a desk and had developed RSI problems in my back, shoulder, and arm, I was the perfect test-subject. Here's my experience spending over a month on my feet.

Standing Desk

Geek Desk/Promo imageSo the setup that you see on the first photo above is what I've been working on for about 5 weeks. I kept my regular desk and decided to test standing at my desk as cheaply and quickly as possible; so I just got a bunch of paper tissue boxes and stacked them under my keyboard and trackball & trackpad (one on each side, so I can switch hands to alleviate RSI problems), and I put a bunch of random textbooks and boxes under my LCD monitor to raise it closer to eye-level (it's still a bit too low).

I have to say, the first 3 and a half weeks were a mixed bag. For a while, it felt like I was trading a set of problems for another one. My shoulder and arm were feeling better by the day, but my feet were killing me. I knew it would take a little while to adapt - especially since I wasn't used to standing for extended periods of time - but I didn't expect it to take over 3 weeks. The good news is that around the 4th week, my feet stopped hurting and my RSI problems have stayed mostly under control.

I now feel like I've got the best of both world. Happy feet, and very little RSI pains, which is totally life-changing for me!

For a while I thought I would have to wear supportive shoes to ever be comfortable, but I'm now fine just wearing socks. I did get a little exercise mat to make standing more comfortable, but even without it I'd probably be fine. It was just a question of leaving my body enough time to adapt (for example, I've noticed that the muscle mass in my legs has increased significantly).

My next step is switching from my temporary setup to a more permanent one. I've got my eye on the adjustable height GeekDesk (pictured above). It's a little expensive, but I figure that it's like a bed: You spend so many hours of your life using it that you might as well get something decent. The main benefit of the GeekDesk is that you can raise and lower it at the push of a button, so you could work 80% standing and 20% sitting, or whatever ratio feels right to you.

If I ever decide to get one, I'll do a review for you guys & gals!