April 29, 2011

Stand Up! Sit Down! Fight! Fight! Fight!

by Chris Randall

I'd been thinking of going to a standing office solution for some time now. I kind of got half-way there when we moved to our new house in February. Most of my music gear was in a standing work configuration, but my main desk was kind of in an in-between stage, where I could sit at it with a tall office chair (the kind you'd find in a lab or something) and I could stand at it. But standing at it wasn't terribly comfortable, because I had to look down at the monitors, so my neck ended up hurting at the end of the day. As a result, I mostly sat at it. Plus, it wasn't quite tall enough, so my wrists were bent when typing, which added to the general discomfort.

After hearing a couple pieces on NPR on the subject of being much healthier if you stand/move around for at least part of the day, plus seeing the radio desk solutions at NAB (some of which were motorized, like this) I decided to go whole hog. So I broke out the measuring tape, and figured out that the exact right height for a desk for me was 40" (I'm 6' 4" tall). This would result in a comfortable typing position while standing.

A trip to the excellent Industrial Metal Supply here in Phoenix was in order, wherein I bought nigh on 30' of 1.5" square steel tubing, then over to my friend Mike Fisher's house, where a MIG welder can be found. A couple hours later, and I have the perfect sized standing desk, no motors necessary.

The next thing, and this was, as it turns out, the most important part, was to get my monitors to eye level, so I didn't have to look down at them. After some browsing about, I settled on this contraption. It works perfectly, and gets my pair of 23" LCDs right up to where I don't have to bend my head down to look at them, thus alleviating the neck pain part of the operation.

A tabletop from Ikea later, and my standing desk is in full form. I got all this done on Sunday, and have now spent a week doing my normal work at it. My feet hurt from standing the first couple days, and the small of my back hurt from standing up straight for 8 hours. I was warned about this, and all is to be expected. After a few days, it is more comfortable to work at, and I've adjusted the height of the monitors a couple times to get them in just the right spot.

I can't strongly recommend this course of action at this point, because I don't know what the long-term effects are going to be. Whether I'll be healthier or not is kind of a subjective thing. I would vastly prefer to sit in a comfy chair all day, leaning back and pondering life's complexities. But after 10 years of basically sitting at a desk all day every day, I'm starting to notice the effects, and it's time for a change, even if it is painful at first. I'll post again on this subject at this time next year, and we'll see how things went.

Has anyone else gone to a complete standing workspace? Have you been doing it for a while? Notice any major differences, good or bad?


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Apr.29.2011 @ 11:42 AM
I can't comment on the long term aspect since I only recently went this route as well. I am still in testing mode but I like it so far. I feel more engaged on creative tasks and even for work it feels better and moving around while on the phone has helped with paying attention. I haven't noticed too much pain from the standing but that could be masked by the pain of training for ultra trail runs.

If I do this permanently, I'll need to sort out a better desk. Right now, I've IKEA legs that get unstable feeling at the maxed out height of 38.5". I think I need to go 39.5" for the best comfort (though I am only 5'11"). My temporary monitor solution is an old Carvin FET450 amp. I'll go your route when I finalized the desk solution.

Apr.29.2011 @ 11:59 AM
i've got back/neck/right shoulder issues so change my position all the time. can't be one way or the other though i do have a "pub table" that is perfect for standing while jamming w/the machines and is definitely more comfortable for me. i can't mix standing up though.. i don't know why.

i think if you are gonna stand all the time you need to get one of those rubberized pads to stand on. they make a huge difference in the long term...

link [www.antifatiguets.co...]

Apr.29.2011 @ 12:12 PM
Since you first tweeted about this a while back i've been thinking about doing this at home. Only problem is, is that I've now moved myself from my office to my couch whenever I do anything on my computer. I need to stop doing that. Ive heard a lot of people are going this route for their desks though: link [www.geekdesk.co...]

Apr.29.2011 @ 12:28 PM
Is there some sort of chart for recommended desk heights based on your height?

Talking about discomfort, I wonder what sort of footwear is the best for standing at the office. Barefoot? Slippers? Do they make "office" shoes for this purpose? Hah Maybe some purpose made orthopedic shoes.

I stand all the time but I think I'd want to alternate between standing and sitting at a tall desk chair for portions on the day.

I always find myself standing and/or pacing back and forth when doing anything productive. People always ask me if I want a chair when I stand for long periods. Hah I have been told that it tends to make others nervous.

Apr.29.2011 @ 1:46 PM
Chris Randall
@xmodz: I think it depends more on arm length than height. I've got quite a wingspan, so my desk is actually shorter than it probably would be for someone else my height that wasn't some sort of freak of nature.

Regarding footwear, I spend all day every day either barefoot or in flip-flops. I have a pretty thick carpet down now, but I can see switching to that shit boobs recommended. In that aspect, I am, in fact, with boobs.


Apr.29.2011 @ 2:00 PM
Back when I had my 'studio' in a workspace building there was already a huge work table in the room. It was built from these massive cast iron legs from another era and took two people to move it. It was perfect for a computer monitor, nearfields and a healthy amount of table-top gear. Since it was a work table I could easily stand with a guitar or bass and set up and record tracks without having to bend or sit. And since I sit for the rest of the goddamn day when I was working with the DAW I by and large stood, tho' I did use a drafting chair some. More than I miss the room, I miss the table.

Tried to build a similar one after we moved with 1/2" plumbing pipe of varrying lengths, but when I tried to get it back up to 36" (I think --where did I put the measurements?) it was way too wobbly. I need to figure out another approach this summer 'cause in order for this to work the desk has to be very stable. But I found when it comes to making music on a computer being able to stand is, for me, a huge bonus.

Apr.29.2011 @ 3:17 PM
I'm very intrigued by this idea but the actual process of cleaning up and redoing all my wiring (again) means it's probably never going to happen unless I move. I'm lazy.


Apr.29.2011 @ 3:21 PM
A mat to stand on is a must. I spend my 3/4 of my workday on my feet at various machines and inspecting or working on various parts. There is a very noticeable difference in my comfort level at the end of my day when I have spent most of my time on a mat, or most of it on concrete.

You'll like your fancy new desk a lot better when you have happy feet at the end of the day. :)

Apr.29.2011 @ 4:01 PM
mister nova
I converted to a standing desk at work back in mid-January and I don't think I could go back. I definitely prefer it. I also have one of those drafting style chairs with the wheels that I end up using about 30 mins a day or so just to break it up, but I find that I often go all day without using it. I also have a cook's mat that I stand on which I roll back under the desk when I use the chair - I would also recommend one. The biggest effect the mat seemed to have was that I no longer had aching calves at the end of the day.

The weirdest results I had switching to a standing desk were:

A) I found I had a bit of an increased appetite, which I suppose makes sense as they say one burns more calories standing (and I haven't gained any weight, either).

B). Psychologically, it makes whatever I'm working on seem somehow more important than it may actually be. I have no explanation for this. Maybe it's due to feeling like those engineer type dudes on Star Trek who stand at their stations.

Apr.29.2011 @ 4:04 PM
Bit closer to half & Half . All synth work and any other playing is done standing . Mixing , file management is done sitting ....as I find I have a tendency to slump over on to my arms if standing and thinking or tweaking for long periods of time . After recording a friend's band last year I found the perfect chair though For such a thing ... Can't tell you what it is as I just took the one they had lol ,but it was not super expensive I doubt . It has no back and you're legs sit in a < position underneath which forces you to sit up straight .

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