It seems I can’t go a week without hearing someone say that “sitting is the new smoking.” And I have one of those rather terrible city commutes – often over an hour each way – that is a lot of time sitting. So, I have been intrigued watching the furniture revolution happening in offices and in schools. I took the plunge last August and got a Varidesk. It is an adjustable desk that will rise so you can stand and work and lower so you can sit and work.
And . . .. I wouldn’t go back.
What I have learned:
- I never lower the desk. I did a little bit when I first got the desk but it was done more as a novelty. I leave it so I can stand and work. If I want to sit, I unplug my laptop and sit in a chair. I don’t stand all-day but I am definitely standing for the majority of time I am in my office.
- The standing desk has increased my productivity. I find I am far more focused and engaged when I am standing at my desk. I have always been someone who likes to move when I work, so I will work intently for several minutes and then stretch / walk and then get back to work.
- I have less back pain. In the post-40 year-old world of mine, like many I have developed a series of regular aches and pains. Standing has lessened my back pain and overall I have far less pain than from sitting for long periods of time. It did take a little getting used to the first couple weeks, standing all day, but it is now just my routine. Having a gel mat to stand on also really helped.
- I get more “steps”. This may mean very little to many of you but I am very conscious about my daily step count that is linked to my FitBit. Just by working standing-up I will get a couple hundred steps an hour – rather than the zero I get sitting.
- I still have to do a better job of being conscious about my posture. Especially in the afternoon I will lean on the desk when I work, and probably just replacing the problems of sitting with a different set of problems.
I find the efforts around learning spaces in our schools to be fascinating. I love the variety of options we are giving students from bouncy chairs, to standing desks to quiet spots in the corner. I have visited a number of classrooms at both elementary and secondary that are creating a variety of desk options and also looking seriously at how they use space for learning. It is not just our schools that are looking at standing desks. Here is a recent story on the use of standing desks at New Westminster Secondary School and a CTV story on their use across North America.
The changes in our classroom are clearly much more than just technology.
And admittedly as a sample size of one, I am finding the standing desk has really changed how I work – helping my health and making me more productive.