Stand-Up Desk 2012 Update

One of the more popular topics here on my technical blog doesn't have to do with technology, per-se - it's about the choice I made to go to a stand-up desk work environment. If you're interested in the history of those, check here:

Stand-Up Desk Part One

Stand-Up Desk Part Two

I have made some changes and I was asked to post those here.Yes, I'm still standing - I think the experiment has worked well, so I'm continuing to work this way. I've become so used to it that I notice when I sit for a long time. If I'm flying, or driving a long way, or have long meetings, I take breaks to stand up and move around.

That being said, I don't stand as much as I did. I started out by standing the entire day - which did not end well. As you can read in my second post, I found that sitting down for a few minutes each hour worked out much better. And over time I would say that I now stand about 70-80% of the day, depending on the day. Some days I don't even notice I'm standing, so I don't sit as often. Other days I find that I really tire quickly - so I sit more often. But in both cases, I stand more than I sit.

In the first post you can read about how I used a simple coffee-table from Ikea to elevate my desktop to the right height. I then adjusted the height where I stand by using a small plastic square and some carpet. Over time I found this did not work as well as I'd like. The primary reason is that the front of these are at the same depth - so my knees would hit the desk or table when I sat down. Also, the desk was at a certain height, and I had to adjust, rather than the other way around.  Also, I like a lot of surface area on top of a desk - almost more of a table. Routing cables and wiring was a pain, and of course moving it was out of the question.


So I've changed what I use. I found a perfect solution for what I was looking for - industrial wire shelving:

I bought one, built only half of it (for the right height I wanted) and arranged the shelves the way I wanted. I then got a 5'x4' piece of wood from Lowes, and mounted it to where the top was balanced, but had an over-hang  I could get my knees under easily.My wife sewed a piece of fake-leather for the top.

This arrangement provides the following benefits:

  • Very strong
  • Rolls easily, wheels can lock to prevent rolling
  • Long, wide shelves
  • Wire-frame allows me to route any kind of wiring and other things all over the desk

I plugged in my UPS and ran it's longer power-cable to the wall outlet. I then ran the router's LAN connection along that wire, and covered both with a large insulation sleeve. I then plugged in everything to the UPS, and routed all the wiring. I can now roll the desk almost anywhere in the room so that I can record, look out the window, get closer to or farther away from the door and more. I put a few boxes on the shelves as "drawers" and tidied that part up. Even my printer fits on a shelf.

Laser-dog not included - some assembly required

In the second post you can read about the bar-stool I purchased from Target for the desk.

I cheaped-out on this one, and it proved to be a bad choice. Because I had to raise it so high, and was constantly sitting on it and then standing up, the gas-cylinder in it just gave out. So it became a very short stool that I ended up getting rid of. In the end, this one from Ikea proved to be a better choice:

And so this arrangement is working out perfectly. I'm finding myself VERY productive this way.

I hope these posts help you if you decide to try working at a stand-up desk. Although I was skeptical at first, I've found it to be a very healthy, easy way to code, design and especially present over a web-cam. It's natural to stand to speak when you're presenting, and it feels more energetic than sitting down to talk to others.

Comments (1)
  1. Mark Holmes says:

    Thanks, Buck.  I've experimented with a standing desk at home, after reading more about it online and from a guy at work whose doctor prescribed one.  My work laptop sits on two cases of soda cans, atop my normal sitting desk.  The height is within a few inches of optimal, and was a cheap way to alpha test the idea.  Standing helps my back when sitting hurts, and I can stand-work more than I used to.  

    I don't do presentations, but I know that standing helps project your voice while speaking, singing, etc – giving the speaker a more confident sound.  I wonder if suspending so that you're floating just below the ceiling and using a fog machine and booming voice kicks it up to a major deity level… try that and let me know, would you? :)  

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