Standing Desk Experiment

Like a lot of developers, my job has me spending a LOT of time sitting in front of a computer monitor. So much so that I’m constantly struggling with discomfort of one sort or another, be it a sore back or stiff neck or aching shoulders. By the end of the day I’m struggling with fatigue and my legs feel weak as I stand up to walk.

This cannot be good for me.

So after months of thinking about it, I decided to try working standing up. Last week I placed a few 12-inch-tall plastic file boxes on my desk to use as platforms for my dual LCD displays and keyboard and mouse. The setup is the opposite of elegant, but it lets me conduct my workplace experiment without dropping hundreds of dollars on a new desk or other hardware.

I’m five days in, and the results so far are encouraging. Yes, my feet are getting (really) sore, and there is some fatigue in the legs, but the sundry back, shoulder and other pains I was suffering have disappeared. Just as important, I’m feeling much more alert throughout the day than I was before the switch. And I’ve not even mentioned the potential long-term health benefits of getting off my backside.

I’ll probably go another couple weeks with this setup to see how things develop, before making any decisions. But I’m anxious to hear from developers who have explored alternatives to sitting at a desk all day. Have you moved to a standing desk or found another solution to the problem? Let me know in the comments section, or email me at

Comments (14)

  1. Patrick Collins says:

    Standing all day long isn't that good for you either.  I tried this for a couple of weeks; instead of shoulder pain I started suffering from knee pain.  Sitting isn't too bad if you have a good chair, think Aeron.  A Microsoft natural keyboard and a Kensington trackball make a big difference too.  Use a break timer to to take regular breaks and stretch you muscles.  Also regular sport such as cycling, swimming and yoga are good.  Good luck.  Pat –

  2. Mark says:

    Just wanted to encourage you to keep going.  I went with a temporary set up like yours for about a year, and have finally built something more permanent, and love it.  Check it out….…/standing-desk

  3. Milo Caruso says:

    I have been using a variable desk, basically transformed an old pneumatic drafting table into a computer desk so I can stand or sit as wanted/needed. I find the flexibility to be very very useful and when I work from home instead of the office I was the standing mode almost exclusively.  Io help with leg/feet/etc. fatigue I switch which shoes I am wearing, stand on a yoga mat, etc. I

  4. Angus McDonald says:

    I've been doing this for about a year now, and my advice is:

    1. Invest in an anti-fatigue mat to stand on.

    2. Keep varying your posture, find something to lean on, and enjoy sitting in the occasional meeting.

    3. Don't give up!

  5. Bill says:

    Put down another vote for the Kensington ExpertMouse trackball, the large model. HUGE difference in wrist and arm comfort.…/expert-mouse%C2%AE.aspx

  6. Ryan says:

    At my work for 8.5 hours per day, I stand at my desk. The cubes are able to adjust the desk height, but an outside company has to do it. This means I can't change at will.

    When I am at home, I am often sitting in front of the television or computer. It seems to be a reasonable balance. I would agree with Patrick's comments about exercise and taking breaks though.

  7. Kyle says:

    Make sure whatever you are standing on is well padded and that should help with any foot pain.

  8. pB says:

    When the benefits of standing have become obvious and you're wanting more …. take it to the next level… 😉…/18fitness.html

  9. Matt says:

    Hemingway, Dickens, Churchill and Jefferson all used standing desk; so you're in good company.

  10. David Lamothe says:

    Look into a kneeling chair, don't know the actual name, but  it supposedly offers excellent ergonomic support.

  11. Anubhav says:

    A Better solution would be to walk every now and then, instead of sitting contineously or standing contineously.

  12. SMS says:

    In one workplace there was a desk which had an adjustable desk which could be made into a standing desk if needed with just a button. It was in Switzerland. Dont know if it is available in US.

  13. Mike says:

    I work for an insurance company and take ergonomics very seriously.  Though I have yet to move to a standing desk, I work with a few developers that suffer from constant back and neck issues.  Our company gave them the option of a sit/stand desk.  I'm sure eventually I will opt for one of these as it gives you the option to sit or stand.  I do have to agree that a good chair, a foot rest, and frequent walks up and down the aisle make a huge difference.

  14. bushi says:

    Like previous commenters said, standing the whole day is not that great either. You risk vascular problems in your legs, (even clots in extreme cases), if just standing, and not walking. When standing, you need your leg muscles to work, to help pumping blood through them.

    The key would be to change the position occasionally from standing to sitting & back (I suppose you'd need some more practical setup for that to change your desk configuration on the fly), also breaks and stretching is important.

    Next thing I recommend wholeheartedly to everybody (because it worked miracles for me, and costs next to nothing), you could try to use one of these big exercise balls, instead of the chair, for sitting. I know it sounds silly, but it was actually something that my orthopedic surgeon recommended for my neck pains, and it helped big time (along with regular LEG stretching (thighs, to be precise) exercises). The reason being, when you sit on such ball, you have to sit upright & properly (it is very difficult to slouch, without the back support to lean on), secondly, your pelvis is is moving slightly all the time, trying to balance your body, and all the back & abdomen muscles that have evolved for that particular reason (keeping you upright and supporting your spine), are getting a nice & gentle workout. It strengthens and  relaxes them in the same time.