How to Feel Comfortable Working at a Standing Desk
It’s worth noting that changes to one’s lifestyle are rarely easy and instant. Some people will take to a standing desk like water off a duck’s back, whereas others might not feel the benefits immediately, feel discouraged and be tempted to slip back into the permanently seated sphere of the sedentary.
In any case, simply buying the furniture is only the first step. All in all, it’s an adjustment to your daily routine and positive change often requires a little effort before the full benefits are seen and acknowledged.
Whether you’re a grizzled veteran when it comes to standing desks and trying to preach the good word to your friends and colleagues, or are a recent convert and looking for some tips on how to make it truly work for you - we’ll be looking at how to make your office desk time as effective and good for you as possible.
Adapt your desk to your body
Ergonomic furniture is designed to be an extension of the body. It’s there to complement the natural curvature of your spine and not force you into any uncomfortable or unnatural positions, which will lead to problems with posture and many other associated health issues. However, the benefits don’t come automatically and it’s important to use your new tools correctly - improper techniques will work against you and defeat the point of owning such a piece of furniture.
The first thing is to make sure that you can use your mouse and keyboard comfortably; your wrists should not be bent and there shouldn’t be any strain in your forearms - following this rule will work to prevent things like carpal tunnel syndrome. To achieve this position, set your adjustable standing desk at the right level for you - too low or too high will both have the same undesirable effect.
The next factor to take into consideration is the position and angle of your monitor. You should be able to focus on your monitor without craning your neck up or down - your head should be level. If you’re having trouble doing this, it might be wise to invest in a monitor arm or an additional platform for your laptop.
For most people, a simple adjustment to the height of your standing desk will be all that you’ll need to solve these problems. However, ergonomic and in fact most offices and other furniture are made with the average human in mind. To take height as an example, the majority of desks and chairs are going to be made with a range that’ll cater to the average male and female. This means that if you fall quite far out of the 5”5 to 5”10 (165cm to 178cm) range, you may need to seek a more customized solution for your particular requirements.
Consider the task
There isn’t one catch-all position for you to be standing or, god-forbid, sitting in all day. The idea of having an adjustable standing desk is that it is versatile and will allow you to move it into the right position at the right time. This might change based only on preference or a desire to switch things up, but the task you are doing should definitely play a part in the decision-making process.
For those who do a lot of word-processing, the position will be different from those who have to make a long international conference call. Perhaps your job requires a lot of space for technical drawing or maybe you work in an office that is relatively paperless and so you don’t need the space for documents. Also, roles and responsibilities can change in the blink of an eye, so it makes a lot of sense to get a fully adjustable desk that will have you covered and deal with whatever you throw at it.
Complement your desk
Owning a height-adjustable standing desk is a great step in the right direction, but in all honesty, it’s only one on the road to having a truly ergonomic workstation. If you think about it, using a chair that doesn’t give you the proper back and lumbar support or even just having unergonomic peripherals for your PC is going to work against the benefits that the standing desk will bring.
While the desk will encourage you to stand more often and reduce the time you spend seated, the vast majority of people aren’t going to give up sitting altogether. As a result, the next most important ergonomic port of call will be your choice of the office chair. There are thousands of options available on the market, so it’s important to consider your needs before you buy one.
If you’re likely to spend most of your time standing, you could go for a more active seating option, like the Autonomous ErgoStool. The ErgoStool is great at providing breaks from standing and is designed to encourage movement while seated, helping you strengthen your core and back as you work.
Autonomous has many different seating options to suit a myriad of tastes and budgets, with all of their office chairs designed with comfort and ergonomic support firmly in mind. The best-selling ErgoChair 2 is one of the most popular models and is well known for its high degree of adjustability and points of ergonomy. For a quirkier option, the stylish AvoChair would fit in very nicely to a modern office and also offers an extremely comfortable and posture supporting experience.
Getting the right accessories
As we previously mentioned, having your monitor at the right height is key to working comfortably and avoiding neck strain. If you aren’t able to look at your monitor without straining, it might be a good idea to get a Monitor Arm. This model is particularly flexible; it has 360 degrees of rotation and a vertical range of 20 inches, meaning that you’ll easily be able to find the right height for when you’re sitting or standing - and avoid any of those irksome strains.
Another great addition to help you get the most of your standing desk is an Anti-Fatigue Mat. What the mat does is encourage better posture and increased circulation throughout the day by
providing a gentle 2” incline that effectively massages your instep while you’re standing at your desk. As the incline also serves to keep your spine balanced at specific angles of support, it is another useful tool in the fight against back and foot pain.
The range of accessories can go on forever, so the last couple of areas that we’d like to mention are ones that are often forgotten about. For those of us who work with a computer all day and have to type a lot (coders - I’m looking at you) it’s important to look after your money-makers - your hands and wrists. Additional support for these can come in the form of proper ergonomic peripherals, such as your keyboard and mouse, but you can also pick yourself up an ergonomic wrist rest to help further. Don’t forget about your feet either - make sure you have a pair of shoes at work that are well-padded with structured ankle support.
Change your posture and ergonomic settings often
Getting the right adjustable furniture is an important step in the right direction, but while we’re on this journey of change, it’s worth being introspective and considering your work habits too. Try to change your posture throughout the day to avoid being locked into one static pose and have different positions that can accommodate rest, work and play. Every hour to 90 minutes, stand up, stretch out and move around a little. Taking a short break isn’t just great for the body, it’s also important for the mind.
Changes in habit can extend to the office too and many companies are taking to walking meetings as an alternative to sit-down ones. Throughout history, the combination of walking, talking and indeed thinking has been used to great effect and studies have shown that this type of meeting encourages and produces more creativity, honesty and productivity among participants. Healthy and more productive? Certainly a no-brainer.
Getting it right
At the end of the day, working at a standing desk has many benefits and it makes sense to both maximize them and make sure that you aren’t negating them. Try to incorporate the right accessories and habits into your workspace to create an ergonomic hive of productivity - where you know that throughout your hard working day, you’ll be comfortable, supported and safeguarding your well-being.
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