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?