Modern Office Furniture

How to Adjust the Height of a Standing Desk When You Are Working

Autonomous Autonomous | Feb 27, 2018
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Standing desks are a growing trend in the ergonomic workspace. If you still haven’t used one, you’re bound to within the next few years. At the very least, you’ll begin to notice the drawbacks/failings of your uncomfortable office and take action to upgrade it.

Office workers can spend more than eight hours per day at their workstations, which makes the design of their desk furniture an integral part of the company’s hardware. How people sit, stand, and move during their workday affects how they think, feel, and how productive they can be. It also affects their health.

Working at a standing desk comes with more health benefits than you’d think. Sitting for long periods of time puts strain on the spine, which is the primary alignment structure of our bodies. Remaining seated in non-ergonomic positions causes extra damage. When the spine shifts out of alignment, or stressed due to tension and repetitive muscle use, the entire body is then off kilter — worsening over time and revealing itself in many painful health complications. Muscles have to accommodate this misalignment and the whole body begins to move in unnatural and strenuous ways. Unfortunately, while many workers are focused on their tasks, they may not notice how these poses and movements negatively affect them until they’ve performed them hundreds of times.

By using a standing desk at work, you increase your blood circulation and overall muscle movement throughout the day. You keep your spine more aligned. You are more inclined to take regular active breaks. Many workers also report that a standing desk helps keep them more focused, especially in the early morning and right after lunch when office employees tend to feel the most sluggish.

Of course, no worker wants to stay standing up all day long. This is why the most popular forms of standing desks are those with adjustable height options, which can move your standing desk at work from sitting to standing with the lightest touch. There are a few different ways that this adjustment happens.

DIGITAL PANELS

The most convenient way to adjust the height of a standing desk is via a digital height adjustment panel in the desk itself.

The adjustable standing desk by Autonomous is a great example, with a small height dashboard under the front rim of the desk that can be set to fractions of inches.

The advantages of digital should be obvious: this lets you remember the height settings that work best for you and adjust back to them every single time. In fact, Autonomous’s SmartDesk 3 even comes with an app that adjusts the desk throughout the day for you, based on your habits. We foresee this data becoming even more useful as the “internet of things” becomes commonplace and health and habit data take over the world. Micro adjustments for the height of a standing desk come at the push of a button with digital, rather than the turn of a crank.

The disadvantages of digital are, of course, that the desk requires power to work, at least during the time of adjustment. If you’re working off-site or off-grid in a place where electricity is iffy, you may run into issues. However, if you’re using this standing desk at work in any modern workplace, you shouldn’t have any problems. Digital panels truly make standing desk height a fluid, elastic, and even automatically programmable feature of your workspace.

Some workers start the day standing up and slowly exhaust themselves into sitting over time. Some may slowly energize into standing by the time their first meeting (or happy hour) draws near. Most of the people working at a standing desk will need their standing desk height to be constantly adjustable throughout the day, as they’ll shift back and forth from standing to sitting a few times. If you’re working at a standing desk in a regular office with full electricity we recommend a digital panel solution. If you’re working in a more mobile way, either moving your workspace around or setting up in off-site locations regularly, then a manual crank or lever design might actually be best for you. If either of these is unavailable for the time being, then hopefully there’s a stack of books nearby.

MAKESHIFT STACKS AND TRAYS

The original methods devised to adjust the height of a standing desk were crude. Early desk users relied on stacks of books and small foldable trays to raise their monitors or laptops above standard desk level.

Nowadays, if you’re working at a standing desk, you can usually adjust the height of a standing desk with features in the desk itself.

LEVERS AND CRANKS

Desk from Ikea, use a SKARSTA Stand-up desks with cranks, such as this turnable crank that can be mounted on either side of the desk to raise and lower the desktop. It sounds great, right? But many users report that the crank method is anything but smooth. If you’re aiming to use your standing desk at work, then you’ll likely raise and lower this desk a few times per day. Working at a standing desk means you’ll have more than just your computer within reach — snacks, coffee, and stationery all vying for space. The problem with the crank method is that the movement between positions is wobbly, which can send desktop items flying. No one wants to spill coffee on their keyboard or have to move everything off the desktop every time they change the position of their standing desk.

Other desks like this Pneumatic Adjustable Height Standing Desk use a lever-activated pneumatic cylinder to adjust the height of a standing desk. This may be a bit smoother than the turn-crank but again, if you have many things on the tabletop of your desk, this can become a bit arduous. For the best ergonomic benefits, adjusting your standing desk height should be as fluid and elastic as possible.

DESKTOP DESKS

Some standing desk models are actually just tabletop desks that you can place on top of your existing setup to increase your standing desk height.

Take the ProPlus36 by Varidesk, for instance. This tabletop desk converts a sitting desk into a stand-up one, which makes it a good addition if you’re having to convert your pre-fabbed workspace into an ergonomic one on your own, or on a thin corporate budget. It features a two-tier design for monitors and keyboards that is sturdy enough to hold up to three screens. It sets up in minutes, holds 45 pounds, and can take you from sitting to standing in three seconds flat. This means that, in a pinch, you could just add this desk to your setup then remove it repeatedly throughout the day. It feels like working at a standing desk when installed, then takes you back to the regular sitting desk when gone. The benefit of this is that you can move the desk around on a work surface if need be, or easily carry this desk like a tray to a couch or bed in a home office. The disadvantage is, of course, that these adjustments may be more effort than they’re worth. at your actual desk may be more effort than they’re worth.

The only advantage to these methods nowadays is that they’re non-electric and non-digital, and so while you’re working at your standing desk you can’t be affected by any electrical or digital glitches. This may be a bonus for some. Still, with user-friendly digitally adjustable desks readily available, it’s hard to see why anyone would opt for a hand crank in 2018.

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