Are standing desks worth it? A freelancer’s review (+ recommendations)
I let the standing desk chatter subside before I considered one for myself. The chair-less workspace felt at first like an eccentricity – something you’d lump with bean bags, deconstructed coffee and the ubiquitous office slide. However, as more companies embraced standing desks, more emerged about the benefits of good posture at the computer. Upstanding claims were made of:
- Improved back strength
- Healthier circulation
- Increased alertness
- Weight loss
…culminating in the sensational exaggeration: “sitting is the new smoking”.
Hyperbolic as this is, there’s no doubt that standing correctly at your workstation might have benefits. At the very least, I thought it worth a try.
The Programmer’s Workstation: Requirements & Restrictions
As a web developer, I have particularly cumbersome requirements for my workspace. Like many of my kind I need multiple monitors, cables, mouse, landline, keyboard – the list goes on. Add to that my notebooks and cups of coffee, and you’ve got a spread of delicate things that really mustn’t be jolted.
This precious set of objects makes me unsuitable for some of the smaller offerings such as the popular Deskmate or Papermaker. Great as they look, these solutions are simply too cardboardy for my mountain of equipment. If all you use is a laptop, this portable standing desk is probably a good match.Paper Maker Desk
What I needed was a strong product, one that could bear the weight of my computer and its entanglements. After a long sleuth, I settled on the enticingly named “Duronic DM05D1 Sit Stand”. Other manufacturers were available, but this one seemed particularly solid.Duronic DM05D1
Here’s what I thought of it.
Packaging & Setup
The product arrives as a heavy, self-contained hunk of metal. With its complex levers and hydraulics, the lack of assembly is sensible and a relief. The only add-on is a keyboard tray that attaches underneath the main desk. This takes 5 minutes with the included screws and Allen key. Easy peasy.
How Standing Desks Work
The Duronic sits on top of your existing workspace. This makes it a handy setup; there’s no need for extra room, and no needless disposal of office furniture. Anyone with a chair and table can upgrade.
The Sit/Stand’s mechanism is powered by hydraulic gas struts. To raise or lower the desk, you grab the levers on either side and push/pull in the required direction. It’s weighty, so there’s no risk of monitors flying off when you raise the desk.
Adjusting the desk feels controlled and powerful, with a satisfying *click* to indicate that your workstation has reached the desired height.
Day One: The Fear
I have to admit, my first few hours on the standing desk were frightening. Pressing a lever that hoists your expensive computer equipment up and down isn’t relaxing. Letting the desk sit overnight, cranked to the highest level, requires a fair bit of trust.
Early Days, What’s The Damage?
My standing stint began with some discomfort, presumably from activating those poor, neglected muscles in my lower back. I would alternate between standing and sitting mode every couple of hours, with occasional leaps to the nearest wall to perform this bizarre (but effective) ‘reset’ of my ‘forward head carriage’. Make of this what you will.
Getting Used To It
While my experience began with a few wobbles, my back pulled through and I soon got very used to my trusty Duronic. One month on, and I’m pleased to announce I’m a full-time stander-upper. I feel sharper, brighter and yes, a little taller! I’m absolutely delighted with the effects this has had, and I’m glad I caught the habit early.
My office isn’t big. In fact, it’s tiny. It’s the kind of office Harry Potter might have occupied had the Dursleys binned those Hogwarts letters.
Because of this, I no longer have room for my beloved swivel chair. That’s not a drawback in itself, but it does mean I’m no longer able to do this:
But Seriously, The Drawbacks…
We’re agreed that standing desks are an upgrade to the freelancer’s workstation. As for the Duronic DM05D1, there are two potential drawbacks I can think of. Fortunately, both can be solved with a bit of creativity. They are:
Tall People Beware
I am 5′ 11″. With the desk at full height the computer monitors are comfortably in my field of vision. If I were taller, I might struggle to keep the screens at eye level. Obviously the overall height of the desk is affected by the table on which it sits. With that in mind, make sure your ‘base’ table isn’t puny like mine.
3 Monitors Is A Struggle
I can fit 3 screens on the desktop, but space becomes tight and with a load capacity of 15kg I’ve chosen not to overdo it. Fortunately, I own an upright shelfy-looking thing that comfortably accommodates my third monitor. Nifty eh?
Edit: I’ve sinced learned that Duronic sell larger, beefier desks with more surface area. So there goes that issue.
Yes, the standing desk works.
Not only has the standing desk helped my posture, it’s also allowed me to bop – up down, up down, up down – when listening to music. Web developers will agree that dancing around like a mad parakeet is an important part of the launch process.
So, positive results all around. I *do* vouch for the standing desk experience, and I would certainly recommend it to those with cumbersome desktops, poor posture or an aversion to chairs.