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Ask Slashdot: What's Your Take On Stand-Up Desks? 347

An anonymous reader writes "I work at a non-profit that doesn't have the resources to automatically bend to each and every whim. However, I've been told that I can't use a cardboard box to put my computer on, for OSHA and fire prevention reasons. So the choice is, sit down for nine hours each day or else get a standup desk to the tune of 500 bucks or more. Is this worth it? Can I make one myself? Anything to know before I get in deep?" There are lots of home-grown stand-up desks out there (search IKEA Hackers for "stand-up desk" if that's your aesthetic leaning), and some ready-made ones from plainish to very expensive. If you've used a stand-up desk, what are your thoughts?
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Ask Slashdot: What's Your Take On Stand-Up Desks?

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  • Hey buddy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 06, 2012 @12:57PM (#41249945)
    Have you looked in the trash? People throw out perfectly fine furniture all the time. I picked up an extremely sturdy carpenter-built bookcase in the trash. It didn't have shelves but I found enough particle board to make shelves.
  • Why not use a wooden or metal box?

    • Or bricks? Or cinder blocks?

    • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

      I thought the same thing, and have had thoughts along the same lines.

      Actually, I like the idea of this working while standing thing, in fact, I used to often work from a kneeling position, (which is much less comfortable when it comes time to stand up).

      My main issue with really adjusting my workspace is that I really want to be able to switch off between sitting and standing.... do part of the day standing, part sitting....

      So far the transition seems like more work than its worth,

      • Re:Why cardboard? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Cormacus ( 976625 ) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:19PM (#41250315) Homepage
        What you need is a bar stool. When you want to stand, your desk will be at the right height. When you want to sit, pull up your stool!
        • by s73v3r ( 963317 )

          Sitting at a bar stool can be less comfortable than sitting in a regular chair.

          • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
            when you have no spine or when "sitting" ==slouching
          • by jbengt ( 874751 )
            When I first started out I was at a drafting desk, standing or sitting on a stool, changing positions all the time. It was more comfortable than sitting at a desk all day. An excuse to get up a walk around is half the reason I drink so much coffee. Back to the point, they (?used to?) make drafting stools that are much more comfortable than a typical utilitarian bar stool. In my experience they almost all had backs, most had cushioned seats, and some of them had arm rests. Even on an uncushioned stool w
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:30PM (#41250481)

        "in fact, I used to often work from a kneeling position"


      • Some sort of Steadicam arm to hold everything at the right height in front of you? You could walk around, even go to the bathroom without missing a tweet.

    • Kmart special (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:28PM (#41250465) Homepage

      I wanted a standing desk for a cheap PC in my workshop, for looking up parts and reference, etc. I wound up going to Kmart, purchasing a cheap narrow PC desk with a roll-out keyboard rest, and a TV stand, and screwed one on top of the other. The result worked out well, with plenty of storage below the PC, and can roll around well.

      • I wanted a standing desk but my boss wouldn't spring for it. So, I went to Home Depot and bought a set of adjustable plastic garage shelves like you'd use to hold paint cans. I assembled it on top of my office-issued desk, adjusted the top shelf to a comfortable height for my monitor, and set the middle shelf to a good height for my keyboard and trackball. Voila. Standing desk for $20. It wasn't beautiful but it worked perfectly.

    • When you say metal, the first thing I think of is to use a file cabinet for a desk. However, have you ever banged your knee against one of those file cabinet handles? OWWW!!!
    • Go totally deskless. And steampunk it with useless gears, chains, scissors switches, etc.

      And a Guillotine for your OSHA folks.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    sit down, do your job. is that so hard?

  • My take? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Krojack ( 575051 ) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @12:59PM (#41249977)

    That I get tired of standing and want to sit down... That's my take.

    They are nice for a workbench but not a computer desk unless you're always moving between several different stations. Stock Market stuff comes to mind.

    In the end, sitting for 9 hours is bad but also standing for 9 hours is bad. Need to find that middle road and balance it out.

  • by raydobbs ( 99133 ) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:01PM (#41249993) Homepage Journal

    ...like anything else. People with certain back conditions find sitting for any length of time would probably relish the idea of being able to stand at work for the entire period - while others would find it akin to torture to stand for nine hours straight. Sitting puts pressure on the base of your spine, but standing on hard floors is pressure on your feet and knees. Six of one, half dozen of the other.

    As long as your aren't FORCED to use a stand-up desk because someone figures they take up less space or that it prevents you from falling asleep at work; then they can be a good thing. If it's a half-baked idea at further cost effective micro-management bullshit - then count me out. And set that manager on fire. Now.

  • by QilessQi ( 2044624 ) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:01PM (#41250001)

    You said:

    So the choice is, sit down for nine hours each day or else get a standup desk to the tune of 500 bucks or more.

    Sorry, but what about just standing up to stretch and walk around every few minutes? I hack code at a traditional desk, but I'm certainly not chained to my chair. Walk around, go to the water cooler, talk to your peers, go outside for lunch. Even if you had a stand-up desk you should still move around a little.

    • by Krojack ( 575051 )

      That's what I do. I'll sit and program for about 60-90 minutes then get up and take ~5 minute walk around the office and chat with co-workers or step outside to get some fresh air. Works out nicely.

  • by yourexhalekiss ( 833943 ) <herp@@@derpstep...com> on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:05PM (#41250067) Homepage

    The desks at my work are on hydraulics, so they can be raised or lowered at will. It's great to be able to raise your desk and stand for a while after sitting for a couple hours, but I wouldn't want to have to be forced to stand all the time.

    The desks get high enough that I can push my high-backed office chair underneath it, and low enough to get probably two feet or so off the ground. It's a great compromise between having to sit or stand the entire day.

  • by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:07PM (#41250101) Journal
    Even better than just a stand up desk. For $500, get a simple walking treadmill, and then you can amble along at 1 MPH and burn off an extra fifty to 100 calories an hour. Better for every inch of your body.
  • for OSHA and fire prevention reasons.

    Employers like to spew a lot of BS about OSHA and "fire codes". Virtually none of it has the slightest basis in reality.

    That said, you generally can't "win" battles like that. Even if you brought in a notarized statement from your town's fire marshal ok'ing your use of a cardboard box, your petulant HR "make up codes as we go" weenie would just make your life hell as payback.

    So... Make 'em spend the money, simple as that. And don't get just a stand-up desk, ge
  • by sehryan ( 412731 ) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:08PM (#41250115)

    I just moved to a stand up desk last week. Absolutely love it. I design and code websites, so I have a pretty stationary type of job. Standing up, I move a lot more. I also have an adjustable stool, so if I need to rest my legs for a bit, I can without having to adjust my desk.

    I have also noticed that the afternoon wall has completely disappeared. You know, the one where you are struggling to focus - or maybe even stay awake. Never happens.

    There are plenty of articles out there about standing vs. sitting, as I did a bunch of research before making the switch. To summarize: Standing is better than sitting, but mixing it up is the best. This doesn't mean fully sitting down - the stool I use is a great example. But you do need to be able to change position for a bit, because being in one position for 8-9 hours a day is bad.

    • by ase ( 39429 )
      Exactly. I switched to a standing desk, and love it. I stay energized throughout the day. YMMV. To break it up, I walk around a lot during phone calls. I had my desk custom built, but that can be pricey. A friend of mine that works at Amazon was provided a different solution when he asked for a standing desk: a door blank on top of four sturdy posts. A wonderfully broad work surface, and stable as heck.
  • People who stand all day at work tend to develop varicose veins. And I have seen it in people in their early twenties - it's not pretty. Sit when you need to, walk around to think, have swordfights while your code compiles (http://xkcd.com/303/), don't take lunch at your desk, take breaks, invest in those highly expensive chairs. All elementary precautions really. I don't know how standing for nine hours will be anything but tortuous.

  • There's lots of various options for building an easy standup desk, especially if you're close to an Ikea. An easy solution is to stop by Ikea and pick up some Malm side tables and trim to height. That worked well enough for a while, eventually I wanted something better.

    The solution was to pick up a used Ikea Jerker desk off Craigslist. I work at that most of the time and when my feet need a rest I'll switch to a small table that's close by. Total cost: $50 and it works great.

    That said, it weirds out some pe

    • by hmckee ( 10407 )

      I did this about 6 months ago and it's working out great. I would also recommend getting a drafting chair so that you can "sit" at the desk when needed without having to adjust the height. You WILL get tired of standing all the time and it's probably better for your body to alternate between the two.

  • The scientist in me says they likely have some merit but the cynic in me says they're the stupid corporate fad of the moment.

  • No (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anne_Nonymous ( 313852 ) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:11PM (#41250167) Homepage Journal

    >> Can I make one myself?

    If you have to ask, the answer is probably no.

  • by imidan ( 559239 ) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:11PM (#41250169)

    For one thing, even with a sit-down desk, you shouldn't be sitting in front of it for nine hours. What I do is I set a countdown timer for an hour or so. When it rings, I get up and walk around the floor, hit the bathroom, fill up my water bottle, maybe step outside for a few minutes and experience sunlight. But you really have to train yourself to do it, and stick to getting up when it goes off. I find that it improves my work, because it forces me to step away from immediate problems and think about things in a larger context while I'm taking my little walk. I get back to my desk eager (usually) to continue work, and energized from getting my blood flowing. If your employer is so concerned about OSHA, then they should know that OSHA recommends frequent rest breaks for employees who sit at computer desks all day.

    To me, one of the most important things about a standing desk is that you need to pay attention to the ergonomics of the floor and your footwear. My building has concrete floors with low-pile carpet. If I stood all day at a desk on this surface, my feet would kill by the end of the day. You potentially need a floor mat that provides more support than a solid floor. Think of the kinds of surfaces that workers on manufacturing lines stand on all day. You also want some kind of low platform or stool (preferably two of different heights, or one that you can flip onto a different side to change its height) that you can use to put one foot up on for periods, adjust your stance and weight distribution. Finally, you'll want to pay attention to the shoes that you wear, to make sure that you're getting the support that your feet need for you to be standing on them all day. There's a reason they call beat cops 'flat-foor'.

    So. Sorry for the text wall. But those are some considerations.

  • First thing is to ensure your monitor can tilt far enough whether sitting or standing. Most can, but it's a good thing to verify first. After that, it's simple. All you need is a stand that can hold keyboard/mouse and then tilt the monitor to what is comfortable. I built mine out of a $12 piece of bookshelf board from Menards. A few drywall screws and then you can pull it when you need to sit down.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:13PM (#41250195) Homepage Journal

    I get a sore back from standing in once place for extended periods of time. I can walk for 8 hours, without a problem, but stand for 30 minutes and I'm going to have to sit down gently because my back is yelling at me.

    • by eam ( 192101 )

      Then you would want a treadmill desk. You can walk for 8 hours at your desk.

  • relies on your sense of humor - humerus bone, that is...

    You'll be on your elbows, leaning, thinking and supporting your upper torso alot.

  • My first thought is that if you are going to be using it for 9 hours every day, then you shouldn't be getting a standing desk. Standing for 9 hours every day is not good on your body. It is horrible on your legs, especially your knees. Yes, sitting for 9 hours isn't good either, but it is much either to get up and walk around than it is to sit down. Standing desks are a great idea for light to moderate use. If you are using them off and on all day, they are great. But if you are using them continually all day, they are horrible, mainly because you have to stand. At a regular sitting desk, it is very easy to stand up and stretch, walk around, or even just stand for a couple minutes and still look at your computer. When you go to the bathroom or to the copier or printer, you are getting a break form sitting, but not from standing. Unless your standing desk is extremely flexible, it is usually very difficult to sit down at a standing desk and still be productive.

    • by fl!ptop ( 902193 )

      When you go to the bathroom...you are getting a break form sitting

      I'm not sure I want to know how you take a dump.

    • by Bogtha ( 906264 )

      But if you are using them continually all day, they are horrible, mainly because you have to stand.

      No you don't. Just get a stool. When your legs feel tired, switch to the stool. When you get restless, stand back up. Just because it's a standing desk, it doesn't mean there's a law against sitting down occasionally.

  • by cornface ( 900179 ) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:20PM (#41250323)

    If you work in a cubicle area, do not use a standup desk. There was always some chucklehead who would stand up while working and it annoyed everybody.

    It is like having someone standing behind your chair all day.

    If you have your own office, having the option of standing is probably nice.

  • How exactly is being able to sit down equivalent to "bending to each and every whim"? Has employment standards in the US fallen so low that employees arn't even entitled to basic amenities anymore? Why not make everyone wear loin cloths and be forced to work while crouching in an insect-infested dirt floor while you're at it?

    The fact that the submitter goes from "Can't have anything" to a "$500 stand up desk" is just unfathomable. There are so many options for getting cheap/free furniture, there is no ex

  • Go to Home Depot and buy 4-6 cinder blocks. Think they are about $10 a piece, plus nobody can say they are a fire hazard because lots of buildings are made with them.

  • I have one of these desks [smartfurniture.com] and I barely use it in standing mode because it's wobbly as all hell to type on and I hate watching the LCDs jiggle around. I don't think I would ever recommend it because of that. Sucks that it was such a nice concept.

    • To be fair, the Dell Precision notebook on my desk doesn't have its display wobble like crazy regardless of what height the desk is at, so maybe I should be directing my ire at the Samsung LCD's godawful stand instead....

  • I don't know so much about stand up desks, but I did enjoy having a tall chair desk. If the desk could be used while standing and ALSO have a tall chair or stool I think it'd be great. That way when people walk up to you for a conversation they're not hovering above you.

    It would also give me a better view of the street through my second floor window ;)

  • You say people complain about putting your computer on a cardboard box, but what about a plastic one? There's no need to spend a ton of money on a desk when all you need is an elevated flat surface.

    Also, if anyone complains, try hitting them.
  • I started using a standing desk a year ago and I won't go back. I bought this desk http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001MS70Z2/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00 [amazon.com]. See my review for caveats because the keyboard tray isn't wide enough for mouse and keyboard. Yes, the standing will make your knees sore. I bought this mat and it does help http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EFK9KM/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00 [amazon.com]. I feel much better in general. My back pain went away and I feel much healthier in general.
  • While I would love a stand-up desk, I simply can't find such a thing in any style I would like (wood, with frigging drawers, preferably a return desk)- not some horribly naked looking Ikea thing that would make my grandfather roll his eyes.

    Does anyone have a suggestion for that? I don't want cinder blocks, planks, or anything ghetto like that. I live in a house, not a workshop!

  • Many years ago it was sitting on exercise balls [wikipedia.org].

    Then it was kneeling chairs [wikipedia.org].

    Now it's standing desks.

    I bet you next year those $500 standing desks will be right next to the exercise balls and kneeling chairs [wikipedia.org]. In the meantime, with all the money spent on the sitting/standing gadgets, unfortunately nor productivity, nor quality, nor ergonomics, nor comfort has improved.
  • There's lots of talk of standing desks and posture-related discussion in this previous discussion [slashdot.org]. My own comment [slashdot.org]:

    I've been using a standing desk for about a year now. I like it. With a chair, it's all too easy to be glued in place without moving a muscle for hours at a time. With a standing desk, you do tend to shift your weight around a bit from time to time. I don't tend to stand up all day. I have a stool that I sit on for about a quarter of the time, so I alternate between standing and sitting every

  • IKEA Stand Up Desk (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I built myself a cheap standing desk from IKEA. You get the Vika Amon table top (under $40) and the Vika Bysske table legs ($20 a pop) These legs work with the table but they are intended for the construction of a kitchen bar. 4 of these bad boys and you have yourself a standing desk. Mind your height - you want to have roughly a 90degree angle at your elbow when working. I am 6'3'' and I can get this at their maximum extension. Then I get one of those attachable shelves and tada my monitors are higher up s

  • I'm having trouble making the commitment to full-time stand-up. I usually do about 30% standing and then I have a high chair for other times.

    My motivation was to avoid slouching in my desk chair. While standing, I do shift my weight from leg to leg (just can't seem to stand there with a 50/50 weight distribution), but I don't get any soreness or back pain from standing. I've heard some people have to tough through the first few days of back or foot soreness before their body acclimates, but not me.

  • I converted to a permanent standing desk a few months ago and I really like it. The first week was pretty tough to get through, but after that it has been great. I recommend an anti-fatigue mat to stand on and some decent insoles like PowerSteps. Some co-workers also have a high stool for when they get tired. I do admit that I look forward to sitting during lunch and after work, but I would never go back. I haven't seen a single co-worker go back to sitting, and more are converting to standing.

    At m
  • There was an old drafters table and I turned into a stand-up workstation. Adjustable height and angle, it is simply awesome. My knees, back and shoulders have never felt so good. I stand for roughly half the day, with a tall chair for when I need it. I highly recommend that anyone with back problems give it a go.

    On the cheap, you can build your own desk with a few pieces of wood. A 3/4" plywood sheet and 2x4's are all you need. If you are vain and don't like that look, you could put your current desk

  • I used an architect's desk adjusted to tallest and flattest settings and stood up to work behind it. It lasted 11 years, 6 symphonies, 10 string quartets, two books, four major projects, and two complete SDLCs.

    And more games of civ than I can count.

  • by LordByronStyrofoam ( 587954 ) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @01:54PM (#41250863)
    "Never debug standing up" -- Gerald Weinberg
  • You've got many choices.

    1. Get an over bed table ala http://www.amazon.com/Invacare-Over-Bed-Table/dp/B000QA0EHI [amazon.com] $49, you can adjust the height, upto 42" which should be within a few inches of what you need.

    2. Use a bed tray on your normal table - ala http://www.standsandmounts.com/winsomewoodnaturalwoodbreakfasttraywithtiltingtop.aspx [standsandmounts.com]

    3. Get a shelf with adjustable racks ala http://visualadventures.com/gear-review/how-to-make-an-adjustable-stand-up-desk-for-about-50 [visualadventures.com]

    4. El cheapo option, wooden boxes, or pile

  • My core muscles are too weak from 20 years of sitting and coding in supportive chairs. I couldn't stand up comfortably all day and use a computer at this point. I suppose my core would be stronger if I had been doing it, but I haven't and I don't plan to start now.
  • I don't use it every day but on days when I know I'll be sitting at home, too, it's nice to stand. Or on days after a big workout and I don't want to cramp to my chair. It's also nice to be able to stand when you're watching Live Meeting or Lync so you don't fall asleep or feel like you haven't moved in a forever if you call into two or three meetings back to back.
  • by Sarusa ( 104047 ) on Thursday September 06, 2012 @08:17PM (#41255375)

    I have one of these and like it a lot. Turns any desk into a sit/stand desk, and the tray is nice and large: http://www.ergodesktop.com/content/kangaroo-pro-junior/ [ergodesktop.com]

    Of course other people like it a lot, too, so it's a month backordered. You can usually find the Ergotron WorkFit-Ses in stock.

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford