Frank Gonzales of Colorado State University has this to say about standing platforms:
“…beware of “platforms” and other equipment that sit on the desktop. Although these seem to be a growing trend and are easy to add and certainly allow for both sitting and standing to take place, if the proper adjustments cannot be made to allow for ideal hand working height for both sitting and standing, awkward postures are likely and risk for discomfort and fatigue increased.”
The Problem With Putting A Sit-Stand Riser On Your Existing Desk
Although Desktop Risers allow you to sit and stand, there are serious issues to consider with both postures when using a Riser. In most cases, the desk you are presently sitting at is already too high for you. The tops of most desks are about 29" off the floor, which is perfect for someone who is about 6'-0" to 6'-1" tall but what about the rest of us?
If, while working on your computer, you are using a keyboard that sits on your desk surface, you are most likely experiencing neck, shoulder and lower back discomfort. This is because of the tendency to tense your neck muscles and scrunch up your shoulders to compensate for the keyboard being too high.
Most Desk Top Risers compound the problem by placing the keyboard tray (that is part of the Riser) on top of the (already too high) desk. This ignores the need for a comfortable keying posture while sitting – and sitting is what you are doing 50% of the time.
If you want to learn what height your desk needs to be for you enter your height into our free ergonomic assessment tool.
There Isn't Enough Space On Desktop Risers
When you raise something like a desktop riser or sit-stand platform, you end up leaving everything around it on the surface below. When standing it’s difficult to reach phones, reference documents & writing material which are still down on the desk. Instead of improving the ergonomics of your office, they end up creating a different problem that needs to be fixed.
Using an accessory like this turns your desk into little more than “platform stand”. The space you're left with for your keyboard, mouse and the other stuff that you need isn't sufficient enough to help you avoid awkward reaching positions and time wasted by constantly searching for your desk items below in an effort to make the riser work for you.
But Don't Lowered Keyboard Trays Help?
Some desktop risers have a keyboard tray that drops below the desk surface. This solves the discomfort issue of having the keyboard too high while sitting at your desk and it also creates more available surface space. Or does it? – by having the keyboard tray below the desk surface, it is out in front of the desk.
You are now forced to back away from your desk surface, leaving much of it (and the reference material, coffee & equipment that is on it) again inaccessible without twisting and reaching. Ergonomists will tell us that twisting and reaching while at our work station is something to be avoided. Many computer users are disgruntled by height adjustable keyboard trays and have stopped using them precisely because of this issue.
In addition, cases where space is valuable, such as in a home office or a shared work environment - you also have to consider the extra 12" of space that you'd need to back your chair up to compensate for the keyboard tray. This may or may not be an important consideration to your work situation but it's often one that's best thought of beforehand.
There Are Better Alternatives
I know, desktop risers may seem like the easiest and least disruptive solution for those wanting to stand at work. Unfortunately, risers command a lot of dedicated real estate on your desk surface and are not a sound ergonomic solution for either sitting or standing.
This is where a sit-stand desk that is at the perfect height for you becomes a huge benefit. One of the advantages of many height adjustable desks is their ability to be lowered to your individual correct height in addition to their ability to be raised to a standing height. As well, your work surface and all your “other stuff” always remains within proper reach without having to switch your work surface frequently.
When faced with a problem, many immediately seek a solution. The wise seek first to better understand the problem.
Getting an adjustable desk is a big step in the process. It's also important for your health to know what you, as an individual, require from your workspace, so you can be most productive while protecting your personal wellbeing.