How A Standing Desk Changed The Way We Work At Lifehacker HQ

Since the beginning of December, I've been working at a standing desk in the Allure Media office in Sydney. While the health values of standing desks are much-discussed, the biggest benefit has turned out to be in a more unexpected area: the way I collaborate with others.

Standing desks have been a longstanding subject of fascination here at Lifehacker. Our US founding editor Gina is a firm advocate of them, and our night editor Elly set one up in her home office as well. But we've never had one in the Australian HQ — until now.

The kind folks at Ergonomics Now offered to send us a review unit, so I decided to go all out and test the Mobel Posture Desk. This is a proper electric standing desk, so you can adjust it to the exact height you want, and even lower it to regular sitting level if that's what you need later in the day. We got the full-sized model (it retails for $1045), which measures an impressive 1800 by 800mm. That turned out to be important, though I didn't realise it at the time.

From the minute the desk arrived unassembled, it stirred up interest in the office. Multiple people volunteered to test it out, and our lead tech guru Ben White was so taken with it, he actually assembled it before I had a chance to do so myself. Ben's verdict? It's fairly easy to put together, though you're definitely better off following the recommendations and using a drill or a powered screwdriver if one's handy. One tip? Assemble it in place — it's big and heavy and hard to move if you don't have assistance from someone else.

At Allure HQ, our desks are permanent fixtures, so I couldn't put the Mobel where I normally sit. Instead, it went in the middle of the "tech pod" (the area I share with my fellow Lifehacker Chris, Kotaku's editor Mark, Gizmodo's editor Luke and our publisher Danny). That meant we no longer had a meeting table, but in truth we hardly ever used that for meetings anyway: it was a repository for recently unpacked technology and leftover items of food.

It's common for new standing desk users to find the experience quite painful for the first couple of days, and I was no exception. At the end of day one, my feet ached and I slept like a baby. However, after that period of adjustment, I'm now a big fan. I sit down at my old desk to eat my lunch and do telephone interviews (since moving my phone into the middle of the pod won't work), but other than that it's standing all the time.

What's really interesting though is that I'm not the only one using it. Chris Jager regularly uses the desk in the mornings (until either his legs or his laptop give out), and Luke from Gizmodo sometimes stands at it for writing stints. Even our CEO pops down occasionally for standing work sessions. This wouldn't have been possible with the smaller model, so I'm glad we chose the larger size.

The standing desk has also become our meeting venue of choice for team chats. Meeting at a standing desk is far more efficient: you remain focused on the task at hand, rather than slouching back lazily in your chair and surreptitiously checking your phone.

As well as formal collaboration, standing up means I can now see what's happening in the whole office, rather than staring quietly into my corner. I like that, though I realise some people wouldn't. Having a sense of what's happening across the office feels much more sociable and sensible.

The one challenge? Setting the desk to the right height. It's no problem when I'm the only one using the desk. However, I'm a little taller than Chris, so there's often a not-so-subtle battle of changing the desk height surreptitiously as soon as one of us leaves the room. (Yesterday, Luke lowered the desk to normal height for a frenzy of Christmas gift wrapping.) We've fixed the switch to control the height on top of the desk, so it's easily done.

The verdict? A definite thumbs up. Indeed, we might need to order a few more if anyone else starts joining me regularly to take a stand.

Thanks again to Ergonomics Now for the desk.


Comments

    Your link to "Elly set one up in her home office" takes us back to this page...totally expected some photos of her home office!

    /disappointed :(

    It's funny, just yesterday I was looking at some shops to see if they sold a standing desk. None of them did. I was surprised I couldn't find a standing computer desk anywhere. Although from my experience I will need something a bit more suited to a computer. Separate keyboard level to monitor.

    Generally what i've seen, including the ergonmics now are just too expensive.

      Get an old architect desk or drafting table? Just disable the tilt feature.

      LH have run a few stories on how to add standing desk functionality to a normal desk. I did it at home by modifying a wooden bench to be a graduated keyboard and monitor stand that got screwed to the top of my normal desk

        Yeah I might do something like this. DIY project for the summer.

      My work have just purchased a Varidesk from varidesk.com I love it and at $400.00 is reasonable priced. it does take up a lot of room on your desk though.

    Standing desk is overrated, standing for a long period of time is not good for your back, your legs, feet or your posture, nothing is good about standing desk, it's a lie.

      That's why the best ones are ones that you can lower or raise yourself. Raise it to standing height when you want to stand, lower it to sitting height when you want to sit.

      All in moderation, sitting for 8 hours is just as bad if not worse than standing for 8 hours.

      The desk should have presets for heights, so you can go from sitting to standing in one press or a dial to set the height. If it had that (or like Elly's a digital display of height), and i had a spare thousand dollars id buy one.

      Last edited 18/12/13 2:59 pm

        As an ex-military person, I had my fill of standing on parade grounds. Never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie.
        So give be a bed with adjustable back, a ceiling-mounted 48-inch screen, and let's discuss hospital style trays to hold keyboards, mice etc.

          I've done 8 straight hours on my feet at a trade show booth before, that was murder on my feet. My ass is sore after 8 hours in a chair as well (well really its quite sore after 2 hours). If i could hit a button and stand up and work for an hour, hit the button again to sit down for a few hours my feet and ass would thank me.

            I do eight hours on my feet every working day. I remember it hurting a bit for the first week or two, but I'm totally used to it now. Would love to get a standing desk one day as my lower back gets sore at my PC and I don't want to explode from sitting too much.

              Though I will say, using the computer at work too much hurts my mouse wrist. I assume this is just from the standing desk there being a bit too low (I'm not on the computer that much there anyway).

      Been using one I built from a second hand metal desk for a couple of years now. Prior to using it, my legs ached, my neck hurt, and I was getting too tired... Standing desk fixed all that. Now I can't stand sitting...!

        Of course you can't stand sitting, and you can't sit standing either!

    I was interested when I first heard about standing desks so I went out and bought a small table from Ikea for $8 which I put on my regular desk in the morning for which I stand and then remove for the afternoon when I sit. I've found standing good for feeling energised and short term tasks like email but difficult for when I need to concentrate or write for a longer period so that's when I sit. I think standing is definitely beneficial for my health and I agree you do get more involved with what's going on around in the office but I've found 50/50 works best for me.

    Would the standing desk setup benefit from an external monitor on a raised stand? As is, the angle down to te laptop looks quite awkward. P.S check old photos of Hemingway typing his books, he was always standing.

      Yeah, the monitor needs to be at head height, otherwise it doesn't work properly.. Laptops aren't't really the best use of one though...! :)

    I don't think I could handle a standing desk at work, but I really want one for building LEGO at home.

    I generally build large sets at my dining table, and usually my back is killing me by the end of the process.

    The head angle on the first pic is giving me neck pain just looking at it.

      This.

      However looking down is better than looking up (yes, all you people with your TVs wall mounted high on a wall like a photo frame are doing your necks no favours).

      After hurting my back I was unable to sit at my desk for anymore than 30 minutes without significant pain, so I shifted to using the filing cabinets/shelves next to my desk as a standing desk. After my back got better I kept in the routine of spending most of my time working standing up.

      Everything in moderation though. I ate lunch sitting down, and would sit in most meetings (unless my back was sore that day).

      I now work in construction, so looking after my back is less about ergonomics and more about posture and body mechanics.

    Ive been using a standing desk at work for a couple of years now. I built a shelf/desk that sits on top of my old desk.
    Because Im the factory/production manager Im constantly in and out of my office. Standing at my desk makes the process that much easier. Sitting down makes you reluctant to stand up again. You can get lazy.
    Now, I get up before six and dont sit down to rest until I get home around five. I dont include sitting the car as resting. Its almost half my day standing up.

    And. . .
    Im 38. About seven years ago I severally twisted my spine in three places. Needed a bit of work to get it back in place. Every six months or so I end up doing something that pops it out of alignment, to which I need to get it put back again.
    A standing desk has really helped with my posture and has made things much more comfortable for my back.

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