My New Standing Desk

I now have a standing desk in my office at my day job.

New Workspace

Click to visit Flickr and see notes

I decided to go this route after reading several articles about the dangers of sitting all day and seeing several others make the transition. The Sitting is Killing You infographic sums up a lot of the risks, and I already have a bad habit of sitting in a slouch or leaning to one side that has led to minor but irritating muscular problems.

I’ve also noticed there are times I sit down and I don’t want to get up again. Putting forth effort to find things to do at my desk rather than get off my ass is not just lazy, it’s counter-productive. This way I’m up and ready to go.

I already had a huge desk, so a podium similar to the prototype linked above made sense. I used a tool from the Comfortable Computing Initiative to determine the height I needed, and then chose my own width and depth. The final dimensions of the podium are 42″W x 38″D x 12″H. The monitor riser on the back is 42″W x 12″D x 3″H.

Standing Desk

Straight-on view

I work for a school district, so I handed the dimensions to the Industrial Arts teacher and he assigned it one of his shop students. I told them I wasn’t too concerned with the final design, I just needed it sturdy enough for my gear, to have an opening on the front and at least one side for cables and storage (my laptop will go down there before long), and it be smooth enough on top that I can write on it and won’t scratch up my hands while working.

They did a fantastic job. The teacher was concerned it would be too big, but with the huge desk it made sense and it gives me plenty of room to spread out and work. They selected the color and stained/sealed it, and they even made the monitor riser removable if I ever need to change the configuration; it is held in place by two dowel rods through the top surface. I spent a little money on the rubber & foam anti-fatigue mat and the new monitor, but it still came in far cheaper and nicer than any standing desk I might have purchased and a student was able to get some woodshop experience and a grade.

I’ve used it two full days so far and I like it. I had slight aches in my feet, but I was able to stretch frequently to avoid back pain. It’s also more than sturdy enough to lean on from time to time, and heavy enough that it doesn’t slide off the back side of the desk. The monitor farther out is easier on my eyes and I like not having to look down at the laptop screen all day. I’m told the first few days adjusting to a standing desk are the worst. If that’s true, I should be golden from here out.

If I did it again, the only thing I might change is to drop it about an inch. The Comfortable Computing Initiative tool assumes you will be standing upright with your feet together, but I’m a big guy and like to use a wider stance so my hands end up just a hair too high when I type. Fortunately the 9/16″ anti-fatigue mat makes up the difference in this case.

I’m going to give it another month or so, and if it continues to work out, I’m going to look into doing the same thing at home. The desk in my home office is a bit large for the room and the monitor sits too high. I want to build a desk that’s not as deep, and it will be split so one side is for sitting and the other for standing. Our iMac will be set up on the sitting side, and then I can use my iPad on the standing side. I can split my time between the two on long writing days, and my wife and kids will be able to sit and work if they choose.

A proper adjustable desk is well beyond my budget, so I plan to build from scratch and possibly mount it to the wall to allow more space for my exercise equipment. I’ve been eyeballing desks made with doors and saw horses and desks made with shelving for inspiration, and I may recruit the woodshop students yet again. If I have them build and drill the parts, I can assemble and mount it at home.

I’ll be sure to follow up when I make it happen.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

8 comments

  1. Qweequeg says:

    I have been curious about the “standing desk” since you first blogged about it. I was concerned about back & foot pain, so I will be curious to know if you adjust to it or not. It looks great from here. Good job, woodshop student!

    • Mike says:

      The anti-fatigue mat has been a help, I think, and I wear Doc Martens boots with the air soles. This morning I’ve been working at a counter in another building in our school district and standing on thin carpet. My feet hurt a little, but it’s far from unbearable. Walking on to that mat is almost like walking onto a little pillow.

      I bought the mat from Staples, but it doesn’t appear to be available on the general retail site.

  2. Bev Vincent says:

    I opted for the sit/stand option — I bought a Kangaroo from a place called Ergo Desktops for work and I liked it so much that I bought one for home. I stand most of the time, but the whole thing collapses easily so I can sit when I get tired, too.

    • Mike says:

      I thought about doing a sit/stand mix but then started to worry I would end up putting it in a sitting position and leaving it there. My desk has two, metal pull-out shelves that will work in a pinch if I’m having problems. They’re not comfortable enough to use forever, but if I needed to take a break, they’re there.

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