REVIEW: Standing while working is a growing trend made easier lately by a myriad of special products built just for that purpose. We try out several standing desks and tell you what we found.
Standing desks have been around for quite a while, and for several years I've heard friends go on and on about the health and mental benefits of using a standing desk in their offices during their workdays.
At least one pal even uses a treadmill desk that lets him walk while working, without ever straying from his computer, phones and printer. One technology company that I know of provides standing desks to all of its employees.
There are major benefits to getting out of your chair and letting your blood flow throughout your body without restriction, and it is also good for your back and neck. Plus, it's good to change positions when working to prevent carpal tunnel injuries and to break up your workday routine.
All this talk got me thinking about standing desks myself, so I had to give them a try. Some are platforms that sit on top of your desk and let you lift the standing desk surfaces up and down as desired so you can change your work positions. The beauty of that system is that you can move from sitting to standing easily throughout the day.
There are also other smaller, more portable devices that are not easily moveable up and down on a whim but that can be placed on your normal desk to position a laptop, monitor and keyboard up into the air when you want to stand while working.
Several months ago, I ordered a Varidesk Pro Plus
standing desk from Varidesk to try out a moveable model (pictured)
and a WorkEZ Standing Desk
from Uncaged Ergonomics to try out its version that lets your position your standing desk in a fixed spot. The WorkEZ holds a laptop, a keyboard and a mouse and can also handle a monitor, if desired. I also ordered another product from Uncaged Ergonomics—its Wobble Stool
, which lets users lean against a tall stool and move around a bit for some extra exercise, instead of just sitting.
The Varidesk Pro Plus is my favorite of the devices I sampled. Priced at $350, the 36-inch-wide Pro Plus has several levels for my monitor, keyboard and mouse, and by squeezing the side-mounted levers, it is all easily moveable up and down with 11 different heights due to a cool spring-assist mechanism. It is big and heavy, though, so your desk needs to be sturdy and you will need help to place the fully assembled device on top of your workspace. Varidesk makes a wide range of models in various widths and sizes to fit what you need. I like the variety it allows in letting me sit or stand on a whim.
The other device, the WorkEZ standing desk, is set up by positioning its arms via notches and locking buttons to hold a keyboard, laptop, mouse and display in positions that are comfortable for a user. It's like setting up the moveable arms on a bike carrier on a car. The WorkEZ comes with three separate riser sections for a keyboard, mouse and laptop and sells for $119.99. The keyboard and mouse sections connect together for more stability. There are several versions and colors available for the WorkEZ, including one with built-in accessory fans for a laptop.
The company claims that the sections can be easily moved up and down in 3 seconds, but I don't see it. The combination of separate adjustable arms and locking buttons is just not as easy to move up and down often during the day compared with the easy-glide and smooth motion of the larger and more expensive Varidesk Pro Plus, we found in our tests. The arms have to be repositioned individually, which makes it more difficult to reposition during your workday.
The Wobble Stool, which retails for $199.99, is an interesting and innovative idea. Instead of sitting on a chair or traditional stool, the Wobble Stool lets you stand at your standing desk and then simply lean against the stool. What that does is it gives you some support even though you are still actually standing. On the bottom of the Wobble Stool, a heavy black rubber surface, like a half of a thick rubber basketball, is mounted to the stool's base, allowing the user to roll the stool on the ball below. You can move forward and back or side to side or anywhere in between so you can get some exercise and motion even when leaning against the moving stool. It feels strange at first, but you get used to it quickly and it becomes fun to use.
For those with larger budgets, there are even electrically adjustable standing desks available on the market, including the Rise Up
from Uncaged Ergonomics, which sells for $799.99 and can be ordered with a bamboo desktop and other options. These move up and down at the flip of a switch, allowing users to move from sitting to standing and back without lifting their gear manually. We didn't test one of these desks, but they are out there.
So what's our conclusion? Standing desks are nice to use and certainly provide health benefits that users can feel, from lessened fatigue to relief for neck, back and wrist pain due to varying positions during the workday. Standing while working does take a bit of getting used to, but typing while standing does become natural and comfortable quickly and just seems to also break up the day. I like having the option to stand or sit, and I find it liberating to switch back and forth. The improved and constantly changeable ergonomics can truly be a breath of fresh air for enterprise workers.
I'm not so sure, though, that I would like to try a treadmill desk. Treadmills are boring to me, and working up a sweat while writing or talking on the phone for work calls does not sound very appealing.
When it comes to standing desks, though, consider me among the converted.
I'd love to hear from other users of these kinds of devices for a follow-up report. Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
and let me know if you are standing while working and what it's like for you.