Sitting all day is the new smoking according to certain research over the last few years. In fact, the idea that sitting all day while completing your office work was flagged bad for you as early as 1961. Yet we all do it. Like smoking though, habits can change and over the last 15 years or so standing desks have become commonplace in a lot of offices.

I used to work standing up when a significant part of my role was coding. I had a stand that elevated my laptop so my arms were in the right position. Buying the stand was meant to be a small experiment but I ended up working like that for a few years unless I was on the road. What I didn’t realise was that because the screen was not elevated I was looking down in a position that was not ideal. In fact, it basically mimicked the position you are in when using a laptop directly on the desk. As my role evolved and required more calls and meetings, for some reason I went back to sitting.

Over the last six months, I have found that I been sitting for longer than normal and my lower back had developed a bad ache. I started to look at standing desks again and actually purchased one. Like before, I was unsure how I would get on and set a budget which if the experiment failed I wouldn’t be too upset about. My new set up is now:

And this is how it looks.

(Actually, that is how it looked when I set it up. I have now tidied up the cables and power supplies so they are out of view.)

I am really pleased with how I am getting on with the setup. Moving to 3 screens from only a laptop for the last couple of years has massively helped my development workflow. How have I found standing? The first couple of weeks I built it up by 30-minute increments each day. Now I am standing pretty much all day unless I am talking to clients. I tend to sit for those calls so I am looking square at the webcam on the laptop. The desk has a manual hydraulic mechanism so positioning the desk is painless.

How is the back pain? A lot better, in fact, I have not felt it in over a month. In saying that I am mindful of the potential side effects from standing. Research shows that it is not a magic bullet. The effect on the number of calories you burn during the day is negligible. The benefit on the heart is not massive either. Research shows that if these are your key drivers for trying a standing desk you should look at treadmill desks instead. Standing for prolonged periods can cause leg and back pain (irony?) It is important that if you choose to stand you pick a good anti-fatigue matt to reduce the risks.

Since we’re almost all working from home at the moment, people have the time to experiment with how they work. I recommend trying a standing desk and seeing how you feel against sitting in a chair all day. I find that I walk more by working standing up as when I have a problem I walk around the house to think about it instead of slumping in my chair. On calls, I pace around the garden more than I did when I chair bound. You don’t have to pay a lot for a desk to start with either. A pile of books or two can create the perfect solution. Give it a try and see if you come away feeling more energised and less tight after a day at work.




Experienced CTO, technical architect, board advisor & technical leader. I focus on building distributed applications & great teams.

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Andy Crouch

Andy Crouch

Experienced CTO, technical architect, board advisor & technical leader. I focus on building distributed applications & great teams.

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