Standing Desks: What I've Learned

After a year of using one, I'm sold on the idea of the standing desk -- also known as the all-day fidget desk.

Chris Murphy, Editor, InformationWeek

June 20, 2014

3 Min Read

I've been using a standing desk for about a year now, and I've learned some things about it, and about myself.

I started using a standing desk because my knee was bugging me, and sitting made it worse, and because of the general "sitting is the new bubonic plague" kind of articles I'd been reading. I tried sitting on an exercise ball a couple of times and felt ridiculous, like I was getting punished for goofing off in gym class.

So I set up my keyboard and monitor on a standing desk. It's really just a dresser in my home office, but by chance it is exactly the correct height for me. I kept my standard, sitting desk. Here's what I've learned:

It's more like sit-and-stand. I use a tall, backless stool (actually an antique wooden bank teller stool), because I find I need to go back and forth between standing and sort-of sitting on the stool. I'd describe it as an all-day fidget.

I still use the sitting desk. Sometimes I'm just too tired to stand all day, even with the stool. If I haven't been getting enough sleep, or took a long bike ride that morning, I wimp out and go for the conventional desk.

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I concentrate better sitting. If I have a task that will take a long and intense bout of concentration, like writing a long article or editing an in-depth report, I do better sitting. Standing, on the other hand, is much better for responding to email, writing and editing shorter articles, or interactive activities such as radio broadcasts or conference calls.

I still pace. Even when I'm at the standing desk, I often pause and pace a couple of feet to either side of the desk. That does not mean I find the idea of a treadmill desk any less absurd.

It's helped, not cured, my knee. My doc said I probably have something the Brits call "theatre knee" -- what we in America wishfully call "runner's knee." I didn't run and still don't, but cutting back on sitting does seem to have helped a great deal.

So I'll be sticking to the standing desk as much as I can, but keeping my wimp-out conventional sitting desk at the ready. Of course, the perfect solution would be one of these adjustable beauties from the likes of NextDesk or UpDesk, if it fits in your office and budget. (Or maybe I'll try the fetal position desk, a trend The Onion recently spotted.)

How about you? Have you tried, contemplated, or abandoned the standing desk? Does it work well for you all day, or do you prefer standing or sitting for particular tasks? Let us know.

InformationWeek's June Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of big data. Find out one CIO's take on what's driving big data, key points on platform considerations, why a recent White House report on the topic has earned praise and skepticism, and much more.

About the Author(s)

Chris Murphy

Editor, InformationWeek

Chris Murphy is editor of InformationWeek and co-chair of the InformationWeek Conference. He has been covering technology leadership and CIO strategy issues for InformationWeek since 1999. Before that, he was editor of the Budapest Business Journal, a business newspaper in Hungary; and a daily newspaper reporter in Michigan, where he covered everything from crime to the car industry. Murphy studied economics and journalism at Michigan State University, has an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia, and has passed the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams.

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