Standing Desks – Save your back, change your life!

Overview

Standing desks are super trendy right now and for good reason.  They solve several problems: metabolic slow down from lack of exertion, proper hip alignment, increased movement which has been linked to better problem solving, makes you stronger, etc.

I’m not going to try to sell you on standing desks, I clearly believe in them and you should do your own research and then take the plunge.

What I’m going to try to do is offer several of the options that I’ve either used or seen first hand with some pictures, pros/cons, price, etc.

Common Across all Desk Options

Desk Height

Make sure it comfortable!  I find if the desk is too low I experience pain the back of my wrists from holding them at a weird angle; for me the ideal table height is almost exactly at my navel (belly button).  I’m 6’1″ and 42″ is what I tend use, this can take some time to figure out but it’s worth finding out what is good for you…

Touch Screens

I have both a touchscreen laptop and monitor and I love them both!  The screens do reflect light a little more and they get smudges that need to be wiped off.  These tradeoffs aren’t for everyone but I find the more I use the touchscreens the less my wrists hurt, your mileage may vary.

Dvorak Keyboard Layout

I go back and fourth on this, it’s unchallenged that you will move your fingers less distance.  It’s about 44% which is around 9 kilometers less distance if you typed Moby Dick!  It’s not hard to learn and not particularly hard to switch if you go to another computer but kind of annoying if you share your computer with someone else and does have a ramp up cost to learn…  You can read more on the topic in this publication from 2001.

Wireless Headset

While this is not necessarily part of a stand up desk, it does promote walking around and movement in general.  This is a huge win for anyone who works from home because it will give you the freedom to walk around and once you’re standing AND have a wireless headset you will naturally wonder around promoting blood circulation and change in focal length for your eyes which are always high on the list of ergonomics.  You will also get more done on phone calls; making coffee, taking out the trash, doing push ups, etc.  I personally use the Logitech H820e Dual Ear (also available in Single Ear – and make sure you install the Skype plugin so the answer button works!).  While it’s not perfect it’s the best I can find.  I’ve used the other Logitech headsets and they’re alright but they are less comfortable and shorter range.  This thing can reach around my entire house and lot, I’ve actually walked 7 (yes seven) houses down my street and stood in a neighbors living room while on a call.  It’s also super lightweight so you have to be careful about leaving it on (I tend to forget to take it off when getting off of a call which eventually will become uncomfortable).  The battery is pretty solid also, maybe 5 hours, maybe 7, not really sure but a long time.  The only thing to watch for is it feels a little delicate so be gentle when putting on the charging base station.

Thera Cane

Yes the Thera Cane looks a little gimicky but I find that leaving it by my desk encourages me to take breaks and use the hook to massage the back of neck that seems to always get tight after a lot of typing, I even travel with thing (I like it that much).

Peripherals

Don’t skimp here, this is an investment in your health, longevity of your career, your life in general.  I haven’t really found the panacea that I’m looking for but I’ll list of a few of the things I use with some thoughts.

Desk Solutions (in no particular order)

Homemade IKEA Corner Solution

Pictures

BuiltInDeskOption-View2BuiltInDeskOption-View1

Summary

This is probably the cheapest option and pretty easy to put together.  This is my favorite of the options as it’s a nice big desk to easily work on.  The only downside is that it’s static both in location and height so as long as moving around isn’t an issue then this is a pretty solid option…

If screwing into your walls isn’t an option you can get 3 more legs.  I’ve not personally done this but the blog I got this idea from did it that way so it’s probably stable enough.

Parts List
  • 1 – Adjustable Leg – GERTON Leg, adjustable, chrome plated $30.00 Article Number:  602.616.26
  • 1 – Table Top – LINNMON Table top, black-brown $35.99 The price reflects selected options Article Number:  102.513.52 Size: 59×29 1/2″
  • 1 – Monitor Stand Shelf – EKBY JÄRPEN Shelf, black-brown $14.99 The price reflects selected options Article Number: 200.943.47 Size: 46 7/8×11″
  • 1 – Monitor Stand 4 Pack Legs – CAPITA Leg, stainless steel$16.00 / 4 pack The price reflects selected options Article Number: 200.495.38 Adjustable from 8 1/4 to 8 5/8″
  • 1 – 2″x4″ from hardware store
  • 1 – handful of screws
Assembly
  1. Cut the 2″x4″ (and paint if desired) and screw into studs in wall at your ideal table height minus the thickness of the table top (if you don’t feel super comfortable doing this then you SHOULD hire it out).
  2. Adjust the single large leg to match this height.
  3. Screw the leg onto the corner that will not be supported by the 2″x4″s.
  4. Lift the table top and leg and place on top of the 2″x4″s (this is much easier and safer with help).
  5. Screw the table top into the 2″x4″s from the top (or use angle brackets underneath).
  6. Attach the base plate of the small legs onto the shelf.
  7. Screw the legs into the base plate.
  8. Set newly made monitor stand onto the table top.
  9. Enjoy!

Balt Beta Classroom Cart

Summary

The Balt Beta cart might be the option I use most.  I leave it downstairs in my home and it allows me to move it to any room pretty easily (like into the dining room to watch my child play in the living room).  The cart is adjustable to ANY height using a friction clamp (that is actually quite solid).  The keyboard tray moves around which doesn’t bother me but I can imagine this would irritate some people as it can’t lock in place.  The dual monitor part must be ordered separately and they don’t have any native support for a laptop and monitor so I had to rig something using pieces from Ergotron.  I personally use and swear by touch screens and the cart gives an almost perfect distance to allow easy touching.  There are two shelves that can be added to the post that are pretty cool but I found I didn’t really use them much as I usually have a table nearby to set drinks on.  The only real downside is that the setup is a little pricey and is crazy heavy (really solidly built) so it’s really only good to be used where you can wheel it around easily.

Pictures

CartOption

 

Components

Ergotron WorkFit-S

Summary

Ergotron offers a few options in this space but the WorkFit-S is the only one I’ve personally used.  It’s designed to work on an existing desk which is a great feature for anyone who has a desk they really don’t want to get rid of or in a cubicle environment.  Since it can raise and lower it offers the ability to ease into the standing desk thing without having to spend some time on a bar stool.  You really have to buy the work surface and large keyboard tray in my opinion so this rig will start to add up.  Most people use the laptop/monitor combo but if you are using dual monitors and are taller than 5’10” you should probably get the “Tall User” kit because otherwise the monitors will likely be too low to be comfortable.  The only downside is that the whole thing, while very well built, does seems to wobble a touch when you’re typing aggressively.  This never bothered me but did irritate some of my friends with the same setup.

Pictures

ErgotronWorkfitSOption-View2 ErgotronWorkfitSOption-View1

Components (as pictured)

Raise The Desk Option

Summary

If you have a desk you really like you can always just raise it to typing height then raise the monitors.  This is a very cheap option for most people and also useful if you’re in a CoWorking space where you can’t really build things and are stuck the desk they provide…  Basically you need to raise the desk which can be done with cinder blocks, bed raisers, books (I guess).  Anything that is strong enough AND stable enough to hold the desk.  This can usually be found with a visit to your local hardware store.  The other thing you need is to raise the monitor(s) which is best done with something lightweight (i.e. NOT books) and these little shelfs that can hold 200 lbs. work well for that.

Pictures

raiseddeskoption2

Components (as pictured)

Raise The Work Surface Option

Summary

If you are stuck with a desk and can’t or don’t want to raise it then you can also raise the working surface and put the monitor on a shelf/book case or get a surface raiser that can hold the monitor.   You can build something yourself from a hardware store seen blow or get a pre-made option.  In general these are advertised with the monitors sitting on them but I don’t consider that adequately tall based on the published ergonomic numbers for someone my height.  This is simliar to the WorkFit-S option above but takes up more space and is also more stable.

Pictures

raiseworksurfacewithshelfoption

Component Options

Pelican Suitcase Travel Option

Summary

After a week after from my setup(s) at a company retreat I found my back hurting quite a bit and decided I needed a travel option for my setup.  This is challenging as it has to be able to be checked as baggage with an airline and provide the minimum viable options as a standing workstation.  Those features are; table top at appropriate height, monitor and laptop at appropriate height, completely self contained in a suitcase that will keep everything safe and be able to be checked with an airline.  The case does weigh in around 80 lbs. which I’m working to thin out so it’ll cost a little extra at the counter but for it’s worth every penny to open up traveling with my family and stay productive and comfortable while working!

Pictures

SuitecaseOption-View1 SuitecaseOption-View2 SuitecaseOption-View3 SuitecaseOption-View4 SuitecaseOption-View5 SuitecaseOption-View6 SuitecaseOption-View7 SuitecaseOption-View8 SuitecaseOption-View9

Components

 

 

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