The Benefits of the Stand-up Desk

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on September 7, 2010 · 9 comments

I’ve been in and out of a stand-up desk as I’ve changed offices or moved, but I’ve been an advocate for a long-time. Many people I know use one, including

  • my former mentor when I was at MIT
  • my financial manager
  • Kevin Meyer of Superfactory, who’s be a very strong advocate

I’ve been through several solutions, including a stack of books propping up my laptop on a window well and a cheap stand-up desk in my Michigan office at the Lean Learning Center. I’ve finally gotten my permanent Pennsylvania office solution in place, pictured here.

You won’t find this one any store; it was a gift from my parents and was fabricated from my great-grandfather’s refurbished old toolbox. I’ve paired that up with a large screen so I’m never straining my eyes or bending my neck, a Cricket laptop stand, and an ergo mat to make it easier on my bad knees [see affiliate links at the bottom of this post]. But even if you can’t have mine, I am a strong advocate of getting one for yourself. Here are the benefits I’ve found for myself:

  • Less back pain
  • Improved focus
  • More energy
  • More mobile

There are several posts out there summarizing the benefits, so if you’re interested in more, I suggest you check some of them out:

Have any of you gone this direction? How have you found the experience?

1 Panu Kinnari September 7, 2010 at 6:18 am

Ever since we moved to our new office last winter I have been standing up. Every table here is motorized so there was really no effort on my part.

I started on first day, standing up half of it and planning on doing it so that I will stand up every day as long as I can. But in reality, I forgot to sit down on second day and haven’t looked back.

2 Kevin September 7, 2010 at 8:45 am

Great job! I find the biggest benefit to be that I’m more mobile – I actually spend less time in the office and more time at the gemba – which then cascades into benefits for the company. I was also amazed at how much time I must have been spending daydreaming and simply surfing the net – now I’m much more focused. Of the 30 or so people at work who have also converted, only 2 have gone back, one of which was because she insisted on continuing to wear high heels… and that simply won’t work. Key accessories include a small 6-8″ stool to rest one foot on, which I guess is the same concept as a foot bar at a bar. And many people have bought the cushioned mats, although I don’t use one. My desk somehow stays far, far neater as well.

3 Mark R Hamel September 7, 2010 at 9:34 am

Hi Jamie,

Your stand desk is definitely more advanced than the one that I (am ashamed to say) used to have. My reason for using the stand desk in the past was not necessarily for my benefit (and there are a great many as you point out), but as a show of solidarity and leadership.

Our transition from a number of sit-down, conveyor-driven WIP- accumulating, poorly balanced assembly line to a greater number of small well-balanced work cells necessitated the removal of chairs for about 150 folks. Sit/stand stools were allowable, but virtually everyone adopted the standing (and moving) position for good reasons. However, the transition from chair to no chair is a difficult adjustment from a physiological and psychological perspective. Leadership should be able to empathize with that…by standing themselves.

4 Matt Wrye September 7, 2010 at 9:38 am

I love the standup desk. I used one when I was in the manufacturing plant for 6 months. Then my role sent me back to corporate and I haven’t gone back to it. Part of it is trying to figure out a solution to have one even within the facility mandated furniture code and half walls for cubicles. Does anyone have any suggestions for this?

5 Mark Graban September 7, 2010 at 10:55 am

I’m currently piloting a stand up desk in my home office (an old iKEA bar table that’s a good height). After a few days, I think I might buy a proper stand up desk with a little more space (I was looking to replace my home office desk anyway).

6 Bill September 7, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Thats pretty cool. A nice heirloom for you. I like old furniture and such. I would appreciate being able to blow up the picture of your desk to have a good look at it.

7 Jamie Flinchbaugh September 7, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I’m glad there is so much interest in what seems like a mundane topic – a desk.

For those that are thinking about it but haven’t made the move, I recommend trying a simulation. Whether with wood or a tall pile of books, you can get a good feel for the experience without any money and little effort.

8 Lisa Johnson September 1, 2011 at 11:08 pm

I have been suffering from some real lower back issues. This last weekend my back slipped out again and I couldn’t sit anymore. When I got to work I got some discarded boxes that just happened to be the perfect height for me. I elevated my phone, keyboard and mouse, plus my note book that I use when I take phone calls and my computer display. I have worked this way my entire week and I’m not going back to a chair. I am constantly moving around when I’m on the phone and I can actually type faster as my entire arms are supported now and there is no stress on my wrists. This is a God send to me an I’m not going back. My coworkers are looking in and wondering what I’m up too but I’m on the cutting edge of good health and I love it. I feel so much better at the end of the day and my back has never felt better. Thanks to my workplace health and safety folks for raising the idea. I put it to use with discarded cardboard boxes and it’s wonderful. I suggest everyone to at least try it……………..


9 Steve June 2, 2016 at 8:38 am

Excellent creativity. Nice job re-purposing an item with sentimental value. It looks like you even have a place to rest your foot. Anything to get you up out of that office chair is very beneficial. I stand for about 5 hours a day.
Keep standing!

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