And so the standing desk experiment has ended

by Jeff Hilimire on March 28, 2014

In November of last year I decided to test out using a standing desk. Pics and stuff here. And after four months of giving it the old college try, I’m sad to say I’m back to a regular old sitting desk.


My new “sitting” desk

Things I liked about the standing desk:

  • It made me feel healthier. I’m sure my legs are stronger for it, and theoretically my posture and things improved, but that’s hard to tell.
  • I was generally more active. When you’re standing all day, I found you’re more likely to walk over to someone’s desk, greet someone at the door, etc.

Kind of a short list. Of course, I’m talking about things I like about a desk. It’s not exactly the most exciting object in one’s life.

The reason I ended up switching back wasn’t because I minded standing. It was because I realized that while standing, I had a hard time focusing deeply on any one given task. It was as if my mind wasn’t able to fully engage in meaningful work if my legs could up and walk around at any moment.

So I found myself going to another place – the couch in our office, somewhere else within the Village, a coffee shop – when I needed to really sit and work on something meaningful. Rather than ditching the standing desk altogether, I did set it up in our office so that anyone at Dragon Army could use it when they wanted. I think that will end up being the best option, to be able to stand when you want and sit when you want.

  • Stephanie Critchfield

    I get it. I had to stand a lot to work when I had my back problems, because sitting was so very painful. And while I was generally pain free standing, I did struggle to remain fully committed to a task.

    You nailed it when you said, “It was as if my mind wasn’t able to fully engage in meaningful work if my legs could up and walk around at any moment.”

    I think having a standing desk or two in a workplace that can afford the room is a good idea for an “exchangeable workplace” — i.e. a place that people can move to for a change of scenery, to engage their bodies, etc. I have a hard time imaging working in a standing position all day and being productive.

    Now, can you imagine the treadmill desk? As a person with no real ability to maintain coordination, that sounds like a hospital bill waiting. ;-P

  • Allen Tubbs

    I’m reading this while standing at my desk, which seems to further illustrate my problem. I seem to get distracted more, even while standing here, and I do walk away more often. The jury is still out on the positive effects on my back, which made me move to standing to begin with. I do feel like I have more energy while standing. Maybe I need to add a bungee cord to my setup…

  • Jeff Hilimire

    Yep, I think that’s the ticket, having the option to either stand or sit. I’ve seen the treadmill desks and yeah, can’t even imagine trying one of those.

  • Jeff Hilimire

    Another great point, I agree, you see more and get distracted more (or at least I was). Bungee up bro!

  • Ricardo Diaz

    Dude, have both!

    It’s not the cheapest thing in the world, but it also transitions from standing to sitting. Because yeah, standing all the time is not ideal, but I bet I stand 2 to 4 hours a day at work.

    Really helps with back issues, fatigue, etc.

  • Jeff Hilimire

    RD, I’d LOVE to do that (have a desk that transforms from standing to sitting), but yeah, the cost is out of whack for what I’m willing to pay. Also, since I paid like $40 or something for the used IKEA standing desk I have, we’re just going to keep that in the Dragon Army HQ so anyone can use it when they want, which is what I’ll probably do.

  • Ricardo Diaz

    It’s cheaper than a good Herman Miller chair ;)

    But I hear you, it’s expensive, no doubt.

  • Ricardo Diaz

    I will say one more thing though :) How many hours do you figure you spend at work at your desk and chair?

    30 hours a week? 1500 hours a year? So suddenly, spending $1 an hour for the first year (and free after that) doesn’t sound so expensive given the amount of time you spend there… :)

    BTW, Geek Desk = $750, Good Chair $750 to $900.

    This is one of a few things that I think folks try to cheap out on and don’t realize that although the price sounds expensive (and it is) you have to compare it to the time spent.

    1) Desk and Chair
    2) Bed (Another 2000 hour a year spent on this, Spend the money on the $2000 mattress)
    3) Universal Remote (You spend 15? hours a week with the remote in your hand, but spending $100 for a decent universal is too much?)

    And just to get Richard Guy to chime in, that’s still WAY less than a 15″ Mac Book Pro Retina that is sitting on your $40 Ikea desk.

  • Vlad Gorenshteyn

    Yup, I think the most optimal way to “have it both ways” is to shell out the $5k+ and get an adjustable one so that you can adjust your posture based on bio-feedback (e.g. state of your back, feet, mood, function,etc.).

  • Jeff Hilimire

    Ha, Diaz, you with your smart math and whatnot ;)

    Yeah, everything you said is true. And while I do have the great remote and the great bed, you’ve given me a lot to think about it when it comes to the desk and chair situation…

  • Vlad Gorenshteyn

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