It’s so common to hear about the benefits of standing at your workspace these days. So, what do we do when we hear that? We start looking into standing desks and when that seems to be way over our heads, we begin looking at the quick DIY route. We think, “I’ll convert my current desk into a standing desk by placing a smaller desk on top of the one I already have”, “By just standing all day, we’ll cut out the issues that the lack of a standing desk has been causing – right?” Doing this, however just creates a different set of problems that a lot of articles fail to address – the fact that remaining in a standing position all day isn't any better than sitting all day.
Furthermore, we're now even seeing articles that urge us not use standing desks precisely for those reasons. Pitting standing all day against sitting all day, not shedding light on the fact that alternating between the two is the best way to maximize the benefits you get from standing desks. We need to be capable of frequent adjustments. “Our next posture is our best posture.”
It's Not Sitting vs. Standing, We Need Both
The problem with a static standing desk or a sit-stand desk converter is that we still need to sit down once-in-a-while. Normally, we tend to prefer to sit 50% to 70% of the time, even with a standing option. Once we realize this, we're often prompted to some impractical solutions.
- Static Standing Desk Converter – We'll need to transfer everything on our desk back and forth between the converter and our desk to allow for our need to alternate between sitting and standing. This creates an unproductive lifestyle as we're wasting not only the time that it takes to transfer our computer and office supplies over but also the time it takes to get back into our previous workflow.
- Two Separate Desk Setups – We might have one standing desk and one sitting desk which can cause problems for those of us who work where space is limited – not to mention that we’ll want to use our computer while we’re sitting as well as when we’re standing.
- Sit-Stand Converter – Mixing a sit-stand desk converter with our current desk also means that our desk will likely not be at the correct height we need for comfortable keying & computer monitor viewing while we’re sitting. Remember, we like to sit 50% to 70% of the time. The standard height of most desks causes anyone under 6 feet tall to scrunch their shoulders up when keying. Adding in the additional height of the keyboard tray of an adjustable sit-stand desk converter can make it even worse.
The proper keying height and the ability to integrate our desktop or laptop computers into an ergonomically sound environment is so important both while sitting and while standing. The solution to this is investing in something adjustable that can also be set to the lower desktop height that we require, without needing to do any of the impractical points above. If you're unsure of the proper desk height for you, try out our free ergonomic assessment tool.
Your Standing Desk Needs Help
Even with an adjustable height desk, we need to ensure that we're using it correctly. This starts with a knowledge of the correct setup for us.
- Our computer monitor should be at or just below eye level, about an arm's length away and the top should be titled slightly back. This will reduce neck and eye strain.
- Those of us with a laptop will notice the above tip would be impossible without some additional accessories. Laptops were originally meant for occasional use but now many of us use them as our main work computers, making our work life painful. In order to put our monitor at the right height, we'll need a laptop stand. Putting our screen at the correct height and distance will create the need for an external keyboard and mouse if you want a comfortable keying position.
- Standing while we work will require comfortable, supportive footwear and an anti-fatigue mat for additional comfort.
With this knowledge, we can see how using something like a treadmill desk wouldn't help us here. We're not just endorsing standing desks to burn calories, it's a matter of reducing pain and increasing comfort, ease of use and productivity. With a treadmill desk option, we're constantly going up and down even when walking, which makes placing our monitor and keyboard at the correct height irrelevant. And while some of us are great multi-taskers, we're now dividing our attention between keeping our balance and walking at a reasonable pace while also trying to get our work done.
Getting the Most Comfort from Sitting
Again, standing isn't the magic solution to our office well-being, we do need to take a break and sit down throughout the day. There are ways we can make sure that we're properly supported in doing this.
- Ensure that the distance between the armrests on our chair and the seat pan are at a height that allows our arms to be at a 90-degree angle while the weight of our arms is supported.
- Our office chair should also provide lumbar support and allow for the natural curve in our spines.
- We should be able to place our feet flat on the floor at a 90-degree angle to avoid stress to our knees and to avoid putting too much pressure on our thighs if our seat is too high or too low.
- Our office chair should allow for adjustments to relieve pressure points while sitting. So, a static, non-adjustable chair wouldn't be a good option.
- The top of our desk should allow our forearms to rest at a 90 to 120-degree angle and our wrists in a neutral position while typing. Hint: your shoulders should be relaxed.
Realize that when we incorporate something like an exercise ball as an alternative to a supportive chair, we're not meeting the above requirements, please keep exercise balls as workout accessories not work accessories.
This might sound like a lot of effort to put into our workspace but we'll be left without many of our aches and pains and reduced fatigue, improving our health significantly. This is a worthwhile adjustment to make in our lives, especially in a time where many of us exclusively work from a desk.
A Workspace That Fits the User
We all have our own individual needs, making it crucial to be aware of what we need from our workspaces. We also need to be aware of how sit-stand desks are best utilized and that the point isn't to just stand all day. So, go forward with this information and figure out the ways in which your workspace needs improvement. I think you will agree Electric Height Adjustable Workstations (EHAWS) make the most sense.