Passion for Performance Greenville, SC Top 5 Cities to Relocate
May 14

Merge recently moved offices and I was in need of purchasing a new desk. Looking at the options, nothing really excited me…but in the back of my mind, I remember seeing a stand-up desk somewhere, and that really intrigued me.

So I searched and found and discovered I could get a custom built stand-up desk (made out of solid, real wood) less expensive than what I could get a cheaper laminate desk for.

The only question I had to ask myself is, “Do I really want to stand up all day?”

There was only one way to find out: start using a stand-up desk. The only problem is I didn’t want to plunk down more than $1k if I in fact didn’t like it. So I went to Lowe’s and bought a temporary solution, a workbench ($79). My friend, Rush Wilson from across the street, saw my temporary stand-up desk stacked on books (in my effort to get the height right) and brought over some bed-risers in their stead (brilliant). Now, I think I have the height about right (my desk comes up to-well, right below my belt line).

The most common question I get asked is, “How could you stand up all day?” My reply is that people in retail do it all the time, waiters, cooks or anyone in hospitality does it all day long, so why can’t an office worker? The truth of the matter is this though: If I had to stand up all day long at my desk, I probably wouldn’t do it. I figured in my business I’m in meetings at least half my day and so I’m sitting at least half the day. So the maximum time I’ll have in any given day is probably 4 hours. The second solution to this question is that I have a bar stool (Linens-n-Things, $39) that I can rest on if I’m doing something prolonged. I’ve found I’ve used it for long phone calls, if I’m going through a bunch of paperwork or if I’ve just been standing in one spot for over 45 minutes or so.

I’m amazed at how much I move around throughout the day, whether it’s to talk with Team Merge, go to the bathroom (TMI?) or refill my coffee cup.

Here are some purported benefits of a stand-up desk:

-Helps back pain (I have none, so n/a, but perhaps will prevent?)
-Helps posture (I’m a chronic sloucher when sitting-or standing for that matter-I notice I have better posture when at the stand-up desk)
-More energy (I concur and have experienced such)
-Clearer thinking (I think this is in line with more energy)
-Better on the phone (more aggressive, on your toes-literally)
-More engaged and prone to less procrastination, surfing the web, etc. (yes, I’ve seen improvements here too)
-Can Relax (when you stand you’re brain says you’re working, when you sit (now) you’re brain says relax)

Some Drawback’s I’ve noticed

-My feet are sore (after about 10 days of doing this-supposedly you get over it and people have recommended the gel mats retailers use)
-Phone. I have a credenza behind me where my phone is, so I have to go back and forth to my computer to dial numbers. Sort of annoying. When I get the bigger stand-up desk, hopefully everything can live there.
-Guests. Talking to people who come into your office is a little awkward as there’s no where for them to sit, and if they did, you’re still standing. I am thinking about getting other stools for guests. I also will have a small conference table in my office to address this, but not everybody has such room.
-Weird. It’s just unusual so when people come into my office and see a stand-up desk they can’t help but think what is wrong with me.
-Accessing (paper) files. Bending down to the filing cabinet is not as easy or ergonomic I’m sure as when sitting.
-Non-level. Merge lives in a 100+ year old building and the floor to my office slopes quite a bit. I notice I shift my feet often due to this slope.

The pros thus far have outweighed the cons. I’ll probably be placing my order soon for my desk. I need to play with the height a little more to make sure I get that right. But so far, the stand-up desk experiment is a success. I highly recommend it if you’re considering-but do the cheap trial version (total about $100) before buying the real deal.

Here’s a great discussion from about stand-up desks.

10 Responses to “The Stand-Up Desk Experiment”

  1. Christy Brewer @ the Quicken Loans Blog Says:

    Adam, I was going to ask about the height of that desk. I’m assuming most of your work is with keyboard, monitor and mouse, right? Are you thinking it needs to go higher??

    Just curious, because I *do* have back problems, and might consider this for long-term.

  2. Patrick Says:

    How’s this working out for you? I have considered a similar thing as I have had some back issues. I actually fare a lot better when I’m standing up or taking walks. I also wouldn’t worry about looking weird, if fact I think it may send a more positive message that you aren’t sitting down all day. A lot of people who don’t sit down all day often look down on those who do.

  3. Adam Landrum Says:

    Right now it’s 41″ and is a good height. I think I could go a couple inches more. I am 6′ 4″, so I’d assume this relative…

  4. Adam Landrum Says:

    Patrick, “I like-it-a-lot.” I do have the stool that I notice I use for phone conversations-and like I said, I’m in meetings a lot, so I’m maybe standing up 4 hours a day, which isn’t hard.

    I come in in the morning now, plug my laptop in and just start working. It’s nice.

    Also, I don’t have back problems, so I can’t comment on that, but I’ve read that it helps. I’d give it a try. Also, feel free to drop in if you want to check the setup out.

  5. Rob Ketterer Says:

    Adam: Have you considered a stand up bed? Now that would be progressive. Seriously, I know of some great leaders who were known for their stand up desk. I think you are onto something. Are you ready to take the plunge into that $1K custom job yet? I tell my clents to do “stand up meetings” b/c people tend to get to the point faster…and they are more productive. Do you have a good carpet to stand on when you are at your desk? I think that could help with the ’soar feet’ issue. Running shoes would also help….rijka

  6. Adam Landrum Says:

    Rob, for the sore feet…I am have considered the Gel mats that retail stores use. I’ve also bought nicer shoes. Haven’t made the plunge for the nicer “model.” This setup is still pretty effective, and I’m still tweaking the height. I’ve upped it a couple more inches, so I’m probably at 43″ or so.

    And just an update…it took about two weeks to get used to and now I don’t even thing about it. Highly recommend it and I doubt I could go back to a sit down desk now…

  7. Melani Sweet Says:

    I work for Desk 2.0- a new and innovative desk and workspace.
    This desk is a patent pending design, and the concept behind it is to accelerate productivity, communication, and collaboration. Based on the fact that increased body movement creates more energy, as you mentioned- a body in motion not only makes you feel better, but it allows you to be more efficient and productive.

    Desk 2.0 is designed to help the user manage and complete projects- with a project management system in the design so you can prioritize and have visibility of your top projects at all times. there are other stand up desks, but we believe we have developed the next generation in design and function.

    It is an impressive piece of furniture with a glass top, metal and wood in the design- all material is recycled except for the glass. It is a standup desk, adjustable in height, and available in different sizes and configurations for smart space planning.

    We even have a line of taller chairs for when you do need to sit, or for visitors in the office. We are developing additional accessories, including a gel pad!

    I would love to send out more information to anyone who is interested in taking the stand up concept even further into their companies!

    Stand up AND be productive!

    [email protected]

  8. Johnny George Says:

    Adam, I too have been searching for a standup desk/workstation and really like your money saving idea! Alas, I searched website and could not find a workbench for $79.00. I may just have to go to the store to see what they have. Did you up the height with more bedrisers? I feel the original height (41″) with the original bedrisers would be fine for me (5′9″ tall). Thanks for the great information and insight.


  9. Adam Landrum Says:

    Johnny - I think I’m higher than the 41″ now, but I think it’s going to be relative. Ergonomically speaking, I think you want your forearms/wrists to be parrallel…so whatever the height is for you. Right now by desk comes up to about my waist, but could probably do a couple of inches higher.

    There’s nothing special about this workbench accept that it’s basic. So any workbench should do. Best of luck!

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