Taking a Stand: If you're standing at work, get ready for distractions - Health & Wellness - Atlanta Magazine
 
 

Taking a Stand: If you're standing at work, get ready for distractions

As my standing-desk experiment rolled out, everyone wanted to talk about it

A full week into my standing-desk experiment, I’ve got one definitive piece of advice for anyone who might adopt this lifestyle change: If you are going to stand at work, don’t start when you’ve got a big project due. Everyone, and I mean everyone—from your boss to the office manager to the interns—will do a double take while walking past your desk, then feel compelled to double back to discuss your newly odd behavior. At length.

I installed my desk extension the day of a major article deadline, and thanks to a steady stream of visitors, curiosity seekers, and commentators, what should have been one day spent tackling revisions stretched into two.

Some observers were benignly banal. “Hey, you’re standing!” they would remark. Resisting the temptation to respond sarcastically—“Oh, I hadn’t realized; no wonder my calves are sore.”—I would merely smile back with an equally inane, “Why, so I am.”

Others passively-aggressively pointed out that some people don’t just stand, but also walk while they work. “Did you know Susan Orlean has a treadmill desk?” Yes, I know. Susan Orlean also is a bestselling author and writes for The New Yorker and knows how to snowboard. And was played by Meryl Streep in the movie adaption of her book The Orchid Thief. Maybe I should just give up like the underachiever I am and sit down already.

Still others wanted to get into the nitty-gritty. They would stand in front of my monitor, test the keyboard —“Hey, you’re left-handed!”—and delve into specifics. “How about stretching?” “What are you doing to strengthen your core?”

So, all in all, not the most productive couple days of my working life.

On the plus side, all the interruptions distracted me from the fact that, you know, standing is harder than you think. It gets pretty tiring. Your feet get sore. Your back does, too. None of which I realized until day four, when co-workers who had stopped to chat at length just breezed by with a quick “Ah, still standing!” leaving me to contemplate my achy ankles in leisurely solitude. As I head into week two, some stretching and core-strengthening will be on the agenda.

A few other quick notes:

  • I ordered the Speedy Stand Up Desk (previously $129.99, now just $79) from Amazon. It turned out to be essentially a long skinny lectern that sits on top of my office desktop. Thanks to extensive Ikea assembly experience, I found it easy to put together. However, either I ordered the wrong color model, or it looks nothing like the photos, because it doesn’t come close to matching my office furniture. But this is not really about aesthetics.
  • I’m still figuring out how to adjust my monitor to avoid looking down and pinching my neck. There are adjustable monitor racks for sale, but for now I am pulling selections from my bookshelf and using them to lift the screen. So far, I’ve settled on two hefty volumes when wearing flats; four books for wedges.
  • Standing does seem to translate into more overall movement. As noted in the last post, according to my not-exactly-scientific Fitbit tracking, I averaged about 3,600 steps during my sedentary workdays. During the first week of standing, I logged an average of 4,500. Not a huge improvement, but certainly noticeable. Most of those steps came about through a surprising new habit; pacing around my office while reading through manuscripts. It never would have occurred to me before to get out of my chair to do this, but I found that it resulted in great concentration.
  • I could not stand and eat. Just too weird.

Leave a comment:

showing all comments · Subscribe to comments
  1. Deborah Geering posted on 06/24/2013 03:21 PM
    Love this idea, Rebecca. We briefly had a treadmill desk at the house, but I could never manage to clear enough room for it in the garage, so it eventually went away. A standing desk seems like a more space-efficient solution. Regarding your discomfort with standing while eating: You clearly do not share my extensive single-gal background of eating over the kitchen sink.
  2. Dan posted on 06/24/2013 05:54 PM
    It looks like that height is a good level for your hands but it is important for people to be sure they adjust their keyboard so their forearms are parallel to the floor and the top of your monitor is within a couple inches of eye level.

    Here is an infographic for how a standing desk should be set up:
    http://ninjastandingdesk.com/standing-desk-faq.html

    Getting an adjustable standing desk is a must for most people as even once you set up your desk micro adjustments often are needed to fine tune your ergonomics.
  3. steve b posted on 08/06/2013 08:37 AM
    I'm glad you are making good use of our stand. People really seem to like being able to sit or stand depending on the project they are working on. It's very important to be able to transition from sitting to standing quickly.
    About the monitor, yes we realized the monitor is a big issue and we solved it with our new sit-stand monitor arm. http://www.lampsusa.com/sit-stand-monitor-arm.aspx which lets you quickly adjust the height. I can't really tell if the bookcase you have would prevent you from installing this arm quickly.
    ANyway, keep it up, you will not regret it and the benefits of more energy and productivity will be noticeable.
showing all comments