Standup Desks might sound tiring but they’re great for productivity and life
There’s been something a bit special going on here at Hubble HQ recently… apart from all the funky new features and ideas that keep bursting forth, that is. We’ve got really into standing up while we work. Six of us have converted from full-time sitters to most-of-the-time standers. We built inexpensive, custom standing desks and now we use the glorious power of our legs to keep us upright during the day. Unless you’ve been studiously avoiding mainstream media outlets recently, you’ll have heard a lot of excitement and bluster about the benefits of standing up while you work.
The most prominent examples of this have been the Get Britain Standing campaign and a recent report co-commissioned by Public Health England. You might be feeling overwhelmed by all this media attention, and considering writing off the standing desk wave as a hyped-up fad. But I’m here to tell you, from a team that stands up all day every day, that it’s not. So without further ado, here are 10 reasons you should have a standup desk:
1. You will cheat death (for a while)
This has to be the most important reason to start standing up while you work: your health. You’ll have heard the phrase repeated a hundred times by now: “Sitting is the new smoking”. The medical and scientific research is pretty conclusive: those who sit down for longer, die younger. As the Guardian summarises:
compared with those who sit the least, those who sit most are more than twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and have a 13% and 17% increased risk of cancer incidence and mortality respectively […] British people sit for 8.9 hours each day on average and one study suggested that, for those sitting more than seven hours a day, there is a 5% increased risk of premature death with each additional hour off their feet.
2. You will feel amazing and get more work done
I’ve personally been working standing up for more than a year now (I have a makeshift desk at home as well as at the office), and one of the most surprising, unexpected changes I have found from standing is the renewed sense of energy you seem to possess while you stand up. The post-lunch carb lull is a thing of the past, and there is something about the fact you’re standing that makes your mind want to focus on a particular task rather than stray elsewhere into the realms of Hacker News or Twitter. I’ve been careful to track that this isn’t merely confirmation bias using my favourite time-tracking tool, Rescue Time, and the results look good… though of course, correlation is not causation:
3. You will be more interesting at dinner parties
It’s entirely plausible that I have never been particularly interesting at dinner parties anyway, but I’m always amazed at how much people like to ask me about my standing desk habits. Here are some real-life examples of questions I have been asked:
- “Wait, what… so you stand up all day?”
- “Don’t your legs get sore?”
- Could you pass the salt, please?”
4. Your DIY skills could improve
There are some amazingly affordable Standing Desks available, but if you decide to roll up your sleeves and building yourself a handy, inexpensive little “IKEA hack standing desk“. We built ours in the office for the princely sum of £41.80 (including VAT). In case you’re interested, here are the parts:
- Lack Coffee Table
- Ekby Jarpen / Ekby Valter shelf
- Fixa floor protectors
- 4x coach bolts, washers and nuts (to attach the shelf to the coffee table)
- 4x small screws (to attach the shelf to the brackets)
5. You will learn some fun new yoga positions
Although your body will quickly get used to standing up all day, you will occasionally feel the need to stretch out and give your muscles and joints a lovely bit of movement. Simple yoga positions are a fun way of making these part of your workday, and it won’t be long before you’ve mastered the art of standing on one leg while typing (I’m doing it right now, if you’re interested). Handily, YogaDork has prepared this list of beginner yoga poses for standing desk warriors. “The Lurking Bird”, anyone?
6. You will learn a new word: anti-fatigue
When I first tried a standing desk, I thought all the people braying about the importance of an anti-fatigue mat were just trying to convince me to spend an extra £30 on an unnecessary extra. Well, let’s just say I was wrong. I wouldn’t recommend anybody to try working while standing up without using an anti-fatigue mat. It’s a slightly different version than the ones developed for retail and kitchen workers, but the basic premise is the same: it relieves pressure from your ankles, knees and lower back, making sure your standing experience is pain-free, and (of course) reducing fatigue.
7. You will buy and wear more interesting socks
There’s not much point using an anti-fatigue mat if you’re going to wear shoes, so slip them off and stand in your socks. Now that you’re showing your socks off, if you’re anything like me you’ll relish the opportunity to put aside the dull greys and blues in favour of some really exciting socks. I’m fortunate that my family are well aware of my penchant for brightly coloured socks, and they shower me with them at birthdays and Christmas. Go wild and check out Happy Socks for inspiration.
8. You’ll hate queues less
Even though queuing is one of those peculiar things that we British love to hate, you’re certain to hate it less once you’re used to standing up all day, because after all, what’s an extra 20 minutes standing up? You’ll even begin to enjoy the experience of watching other people rubbing their weary calves and crumpling their faces in anguish as your queue slowly sneaks onwards.
9. Your body will ache less
Generally speaking, the human body is not meant to be kept in one position for hours on end. What’s worse though, is twisting it into odd, ungainly positions as you sit all day at a computer. Hunched shoulders, a perpetually dipped neck and sore wrists are symptoms of a chronically bad posture, but sadly these are problems that most people encounter on a day-to-day basis because of the nature of office work. Not for us glorious standing desk users, though. I have been overjoyed by the lack of pain, tension and stiffness in my neck and shoulders since I have stood up to work since I used to feel these problems all the time. I have also supplemented my new ergonomic stance with a couple of these excellent “wrist donuts” for using the keyboard and mouse, which has done away with wrist pain altogether. As an added bonus, you can get them embroidered with whatever words you fancy (I went with a bold THUG LIFE combination, but I suppose not everyone can be as cool as me).
10. You will be more powerful
Finally, it’s fair to say that height makes a firm statement about your power and status. Once you can look over the heads of everyone else in your office, people will (naturally) look up to you, and you’ll look down on them. Speaks for itself, really. Plus you get a better view out of the window, and you have more chances to show off your dance moves… I hope this was a useful overview of why you should try out a standing desk. I’m genuinely passionate about getting more people involved in the stand-up revolution, and I’d love to chat with you about it if you are too: drop me an email or say hi on Twitter.