Monday, July 04, 2011

My New Stand-Up Career...

A little over a month ago, after reading a few articles about the health effects of prolonged sitting, I decided to join the ranks of Donald Rumsfeld and Matthew Yglesisas and try out a stand-up workspace.

The Set-Up

My office has an open floor plan.  The workspace is partitioned by walls that are about three feet tall, and have three pieces of furniture -- a desk that is flat on one side and curved on the other, that takes up the far side of the workspace as you approach it, a file cabinet/bookshelf that goes on one side, and an oval table that people can put where they wish, some opting for one side of the workspace that does not contain the bookshelf, others behind them to mark off their space.

It so happened that the bookshelf, at about four feet high, was at just about the recommended just under the elbows height for a stand-up set-up for my 6'5" frame.    So I rotated the desk to one side of the workspace, slid the bookshelf over to the center of the far end , and put the oval table on the other side.  So I stand with a table on each side, with the bookshelf in the middle.  I moved my keyboard, mouse, and monitor (which I had to prop up a bit to get to eye height) to the top of the bookshelf, and prop my laptop on the desk to my left so I can use both monitors.

I keep an extra mouse on the desk, so I can transition to a sitting position for a break with just the laptop, which I typically do for an hour or so each afternoon.  The key is that that workstation is set up for a default of standing rather than sitting.

There were some other considerations of where things plugged in, but those are probably not generally useful.

The Experience

The first couple days were not easy.  At my job I can get by wearing shoes that are essentially brown tennis shoes, and I would not recommend trying this without comfortable shoes.  Even with comfortable shoes, my feet continue to hurt a bit a month into the new set-up.  My legs were hurting a bit, but I have gained strength and that is no longer a bit.

If you do something like this, you will get a lot of comments.  Most people have been generally curious and supportive.  But I am now "the guy who stands up at his desk."  When you're 6'5", and you're standing up in an open workspace, you're going to get noticed.

The bookshelf is at a good height, but the top of it really isn't big enough to accommodate a monitor, keyboard, and mouse/mousepad comfortably.  A trackball might work better.  And I don't have the laptop propped up enough that the screen is really effective as a second monitor.

The Results

I think the biggest thing is that I feel more active and literally "agile" at work.  I'm more inclined to walk over and talk to somebody if I have a question, since doing so doesn't entail pulling myself out of my chair.  I can move around a bit while I'm waiting for a build to finish, etc.

I don't watch my weight closely enough to have a definite answer, but I'm fairly confident I have lost some weight in the month I've been doing this.   I also am quite certain I have improved my posture.  This has also coincided with me being more faithful to my workout routine, so I'm not sure I can isolate the effect of the stand-up desk.

But then that's part of the point.  In the spirit of trying something for 30 days, I now see myself as the type of person who stands up at his job, rather than someone who spends eight hours a day slumped at his desk, and that spills over into other parts of my life, leading me to welcome the next challenge.