Working on a standing desk

“If you aren’t trying new things and failing, you aren’t learning.”

—Pedram Keyani, Facebook engineer

Pedram is right.

I first saw Pedram at MTV’s “The Diary of Facebook“. Apparently he is a very talented engineer, hacker extraordinaire, creator of Facebook’s infamous “Keg Presence” and has a radical approach regarding his work-desk. He doesn’t use a chair!

When I first saw this (for me at least, new) approach, I was in a way shocked. I was asking myself “is he crazy?” or “don’t his legs hurt a lot?” Well, the answer to both questions is no. No he is not crazy. Regarding legs, more in a second.

So today I thought why not try this. Experiment. Learn. Fail maybe, but learn whatsoever. I’m already working for 40 minutes at my standing desk and feels really cool. At first, I thought I’d dislike this new way but these 40 minutes prove me wrong. It feels a lot better as of working/writing/coding/killing time standing in the front of my Macbook while sitting on my chair.

Pedram’s arguments were that by standing and not sitting he was more active and busy all day long rather than getting too comfortable on a chair. My arguments are “just try it” and see if it fits you. I’m not sure if I can describe well the new feelings of the “standing desk” but I’m sure you’ll like it. For me it’s like freedom to stroll around brainstorming when you’re stuck with something (eg. writing this blog post), being more creative, having more luls, easier to interact with other people and fun.

Regarding legs as Gina Trapani wrote, the first two days will be a pain for you. That varies of course for each one. You might be athletic and you won’t hurt you a little or you might be not athletic and you’ll have to adjust yourself for a couple days or so. Really, it depends on your body type.

Most surprisingly though, medical studies have shown that the human body is not suitable for to work many hours while sitting. Excessive sitting might cause health problems. I guess though, all you need is some balance. When you see that your feet hurt take a 10-minute break to sit somewhere. Eat something, drink a tea—have a break basically.

Pros

  • Freedom, enabling you to work better in many ways
  • Focusing easier to your work
  • Unique desktop environment
  • It feels great
  • Brainstorm awfully easier
  • It’s better for your health!

Cons

  • Feet-ache in the first couple days (maybe)
  • New workflow for you to adapt into
  • I don’t know something else

So, who else is using a standing desk?

As Gina informs us, mighty former Twitter developer and founder of BankSimple, Alex Payne, creator of Instapaper, Marco Arment, podcaster extraordinaire Dan Benjamin, novelist Philip Roth and even former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

My setup

This is how my computer-standing-desktop looks like now.

If you’re still skeptical about it, I’d say give it a 1-day try. I bet you’ll like it. Already using or want to use a standing desk? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Also, tips for standing desks from the Boing Boing blog.

posted: April 20, 2011
under: Reviews

8 Responses

  1. hkalant says:

    I was writing a college paper when your tweet about this post appear in my timeline on Twitter. I read it and I decided to give it a try. And I can say this is pretty awesome – actually pretty good for my back!
    So, this is my standing desk: http://flic.kr/p/9Aeedd
    I know it cannot be permant, but I will figure a way out for this.
    Thnx for the idea.

  2. Apostolos says:

    That’s cool.
    Well, regarding a how-to or ideas on how to make your standing desk, see Gina’s post. She wrote some handy tips there.

  3. Mind your back and neck with this practice. The monitor should be at eye-level.

  4. Apostolos says:

    It’s slightly below—I’ll be tweaking the shelves the coming days.

  5. hkalant says:

    Here’s another funny and interesting fact. Have you ever watched Smallville (a tv-series about the early years of Superman)?
    If you haven’t, check the very latest season out. They use standing desks in the Watchtower!
    Two screenshots: http://goo.gl/DboEm and http://goo.gl/EScsh

    Awesome huh?

  6. netfreak says:

    Well, the best solution of course ( + a item of desire ) is a *motorized* adjustable height desk… but they are kinda expensive… ( $700+ ).

    “IKEA Hackers” has a post on how to build a standing desk on the cheap ( i calculated it around 170-180€ ) with IKEA products – of course. Seems nice, but i’m not sure if those IKEA products are available everywhere ( i.e. Greece ). Maybe there are height adjustable desk legs in some DIY shops? ( over 1.1m height needed tho )

  7. Apostolos says:

    @hkalant LOL!
    @netfreak seems interesting. I don’t know if I can spend ±$200 right now, maybe around summer or something. But I always loved IKEA and they do provide some good DIY hack solutions.

  8. hkalant says:

    Here’s another interesting personal post about standing desk: http://t.co/pkzFG80