When you work in IT designing systems for other people to use, you are either very aware of the physical side of the experience or not at all. Becoming increasingly aware of research that blames computer use for the health problems caused by excessive sitting, our Director Iain Stewart has applied some of this awareness to his own working day, by installing a sit/stand desk.
In case you haven’t been reading the same articles, this is an adjustable desk that allows you to stand up for some of the time, and sit down when you need to. They are slowly filtering into the mainstream, and are said to reduce the risk of heart disease, contribute to the body’s need for exercise – which most of us are not getting nearly enough of – and even help to control our blood sugar levels. And it’s not a new-fangled idea: devotees of working standing up have apparently included Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and Ben Franklin. Iain made his desk by buying a sit/stand stand, and fixing the top of his old sedentary desk to it.
The motivation to try it came from feeling it couldn’t be good to sit for the best part of eight, ten, or even 12 hours a day. Reading about it, most people who were using sit-stand sounded very happy with the change. They report being more energised, more focused. Physical improvements like reduced back pain, better posture and even reduction of chronic pain were cited frequently.
I had always felt comfortable reading the newspaper or using a laptop while standing at a bench, for example in cafes, and had often thought about introducing this to my work space. Earlier this autumn I decided I had to try it.
After quite a bit of research I decided on the Conset 501-49 frame – I already had a desk top that I liked, and this would fit it perfectly. It took me about an hour to assemble my new desk. It’s motorised, so I can go from sitting to standing at the touch of a switch. But I find I’m not using the switch very often – after six weeks of standing and never sitting, I am converted.
What’s different? Overall I work better. I’m more focused, less tired, and much fitter. For the first couple of weeks I was a more tired by the end of the day, but that wore off quickly. Fortunately I have never suffered from significant back pain, but I have noticed that even the niggling aches have subsided, including a dodgy knee which I thought might impede my plan to stand. Also, I once read somewhere that the habit of sitting with your legs crossed is genetic, so if like me you are cross-bred, you might find this helps you kick the habit. I’m finding that the inability to spend large amounts of time in this position feels like a real positive.
If any of this makes you curious, I can only suggest try it if you possibly can. Here are some places to start: