Thursday, June 4, 2015

Stand Up Desks

     The first time I ever heard about a stand up desk was when I read about the CEO of Schneider National sometime back in the 1990s.  It seems that Don Schneider worked at a standing desk because he was believed it made him more alert and created a greater sense of urgency.  I was intrigued and never forot reading that because no one I knew had or worked at a stand up desk. 
     What is a stand up desk?  Historically, they were not so rare.  Think of the Bob Cratchit desk without the stool.  Think of the maitre'd desk at many restaurants.  They especially make sense for restaurant seating staff as they need to be eye to eye with customers, they are always moving, and thus getting into and out of a chair is wasted time and motion.
     A few years ago, I heard about them again from my son.  He had gotten one in his office and just loved working standing up.  He told me that they were now fully electric and could be raised and lowered by a switch.  I did what I normally do in such situations:  I Googled it.  There were a few companies making such desks that ranged from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on the size and features.  The web search also revealed numerous articles touting both the evils of sitting in a chair all day long and the health benefits of working on one's feet for at least four hours a day.  
There's an emerging body of research that suggests sitting down all day at work, then sitting in front of the TV at home, can heighten the risk of serious illness, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and other ailments, and premature death.

Physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth-leading risk factor for death for people all around the world, according to the World Health Organization.  ~ CNN Money 
     At that time, I was working out of my home office for both my consulting projects and adjunct teaching. There was no way to justify replacing the desk in my study which was a piece of furniture with one of these desks that would never pass the decor standards of my dear wife. I pursued the idea no further... that is until I began my full time position at North Park University.       I have an office at North Park.  It is, how shall I say it, not very big:  7' x 10.5'.  It is small.  I could get all the hand-me-down furniture available in the basement of the house in which the School of Business and Nonprofit Management was located.  I thought about getting one of those cool electric stand up desks but given the plentiful amount of surplus, i.e. free, furniture and a department furniture budget which was smaller than my office, I didn't ask for a $2000 stand up desk.  
      My office is functional.  The only thing I really wish I had was more desk space which is a spartan 4' x 2.5'.  Next to my desk is an empty square space of 2.5' x 2.5' which I knew should be better utilized somehow.  I thought of getting a bigger desk but facilities has not been the most responsive as they are understaffed and the fact that I already have a desk.  I then thought about buying something myself an end to table for storage and desk extension.  I looked around and could never find anything that was suitable from the criteria of price, dimensions, and style.  So, I did nothing.
     A month ago, I was in an office supply store and walked by the furniture section and saw an offering of stand up desks of varying sizes a few of which looked small enough and reasonable priced to be candidates for my empty space.  I wrote down the dimensions and basically did nothing for a month as it was the end of the semester exam and grading time.  One of the small stand up desks, actually it was really a stand up table, looked like it would fit.  It was not electric but could easily be adjusted.  It cost $200 which was at the upper limit of what I wanted to spend.  
     Before buying the desk, I looked online.  There were a lot of stand up workstations between $60 - $350.  While the dimensions were provided, I did not want to buy anything I could not see, touch, and ensure worked to my satisfaction including the maximum height of the work surface.  I stopped at another office superstore just to see what was available from them.   They had a very study stand on which I could easily use as a computer while standing.  If I lowered it, I could use it as a text book stand.  Best of all, it was the last one and priced to go at $100.  I bought it. 
     It is the stand in the photo.  It is a perfect size of my workspace.   As my first stand up activity, I wrote and posted this blog.  I am so trendy.

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