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What Makes a Good Standing Desk?

I often hang out in the standing desk forums on Reddit and I see a lot of questions about desk options. I realize, for someone who is just learning about standing desks, it can be difficult to know what’s important and what’s not. So, here's a starter list of the must-haves when standing desk shopping.

Choosing a good standing desk - A Guide To Your First Adjustable Height Desk

Adjustable Height

The first feature you should look for when purchasing a standing desk is adjustable height. We've already dispelled the myth that you should replace sitting with standing. Finding a balance between your time spent sitting and standing is the best option for your health as standing too much can cause a completely new set of health problems. We're firm believers of “Your best posture is your next posture” and frequently alternating between sitting and standing is key – it's all about movement and relieving pressure on certain points in your body.

For many of us, another very important height adjustment is the downward adjustment. Remember that even with the option to sit or stand, most of the time will be spent sitting. So it’s critical to be sitting at the right height. Most standard desk tops are 29” off the floor. That is perfect for someone who is 6’-0”+ tall. Check out this handy tool to help you find your correct sitting height when your both feet are flat on the floor and your thighs are evenly supported along the seat pan. Then make sure your height adjustable desk can adjust down to that level of comfort.

The Correct Height For Your Desk

Think about this – even with a sit-stand desk, we sit most of the time (60%-80%) regardless. Why put a height adjustable lift stand on top of an already too high desk top? This can only make a bad sitting situation worse - prompting neck and shoulder tightness and discomfort which, in turn, prompts headaches.

Enough Workspace

Of course, you need to have enough desk surface for it to be a good functioning workspace. Consider which items will be frequently on your desk and the most ergonomic placement for those items. You may want to take some time and learn about primary, secondary and tertiary reach zones on your work surface. Realize, these same “zones” remain with you whether you are sitting or standing.

Reach Zones for Your Desk Comfort

You should have enough space on your desk for:

Primary

Keyboard & Mouse
  • Should be in front of you and at a height so that your arms are comfortably hanging straight down from your shoulders and your elbows are bent about 90o to 110o and your wrists in a neutral position.
Laptop
  • An external keyboard and mouse are recommended so the laptop can be raised on a simple laptop stand so the top of the screen is at about eye level. This way, your head does not need to tilt forward and your back can remain straight and supported by the back of the chair.
Inuse Documents
  • Documents that are being actively references should be placed between the keyboard and monitor or on a document holder immediately beside the monitor.

Secondary

Monitor(s)
  • monitors should be approximately arms length away
  • take into consideration the number of monitors and the desk’s ability to incorporate a monitor arm if required
Often Utilized Items
  • close at hand, such as reference material, notepad, cell phone, coffee cup, etc.

Tertiary

Miscellaneous Others
  • files, CPU/computer tower, a picture of the kids, etc.

If you have a CPU or computer tower that you need to attach underneath the desk, you'll also want to ensure that your desk is wide enough to have room for the tower and desk frame while still leaving enough comfortable knee space (about 30” minimum).

Easily Adjustable

There are crank adjustable desks, which is an option for those who don't work near an electrical outlet needed for an electric desk. It's also good for those wanting to be as green as possible. However, if you're at your desk for most of the day, you'll need to adjust your desk often and electric desks make it easy to adjust to the correct height, quickly. The key words are easy and quick. If the adjustments aren’t both easy and quick it’s not going to happen for long. It is a simple as that.

Stable

Standing during the day can be quite annoying if you're dealing with a wobbly sit-stand desk. It can make it difficult to focus depending on the severity and can also cause some concern about the expensive equipment you may have on top of the desk.

So it’s important for your desk to be stable at its extended height. Most adjustable desks are sturdy in the lowered, seated position. However, the taller you need your desk, the more crucial this will be to you.

Many adjustable height desks remedy this by inserting an (ankle knocker) horizontal crossbar to improve stability however it isn't a necessary component. There are quality constructed, commercial grade, height adjustable desk frames (like ours). that are robust and maintain their rigidity at their extended height without the restrictive crossbar. (Quality does not need to be expensive)

Durable

Long term investment – An electric, adjustable height desk may feel like a big expense. In fact, it is really it’s an investment in your long-term health and well-being. It is worth it for your health, but you'll want to make sure that it's going to last. Our desk bases are tested to 20,000 cycles. That’s equivalent 20 years of office use!

When shopping around for sit-stand desks, ask questions about the testing of the base and work surfaces for durability and look into the product information if directly asking questions isn't an option.

It’s what we do

Whatever it is that you're looking for, the above list is a solid foundation to work from and if you need other options, you can add from there. The point is, this is what you need to get started in a healthy and ergonomically sound workspace. We hope this helps you in your search.

We’re extremely dedicated to providing comprehensive information & resources, as well as quality products so you can make informed decisions leading to healthier and more productive ergonomic workspaces.

It’s what we do.


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