Problems with DIY Standing Desks
February 20, 2019
Standing desks have been catching on not only in the workplace but at home as well. In a 2017 report about the U.S. workforce, it was found that 3.9 million U.S. employees work from home at least half of the time1. This study doesn’t include the 43% of U.S. employees who work remotely according to a 2016 Gallup report2. While most office spaces that upgrade to standing-sitting desks cover the costs and set-up fees, what’s the average person who works at home to do? Bring on the DIY, it’s simple… or so they thought. In this article we will discuss some common issues to be aware of with DIY standing desks.
Having a stable work surface is essential, especially considering the expensive equipment that will be resting atop the desk. No one wants their expensive monitor to come crashing to the ground, and their cup of coffee to follow. Since a standing desk is much higher than your average sitting desk, it needs to be properly braced to ensure sturdiness. Home offices aren’t immune to running kids who with wild abandon often accidentally bump into furniture or, not so accidentally, climb up onto them. It’s true, most of us aren’t carpenters by trade, so building a standing desk from scratch can pose more than just a little problem. Here are some quick stable DIY standing desk ideas that won’t break the bank if you’ve got the time:
- Purchase a standing desk frame and use a new or existing desktop surface
- A dresser fitted to your ergonomic height
- Tall fixed height desktop surface (filing cabinets, table, etc.) and a drafting chair
- Add small side tables to your existing desk to raise your monitor and keyboard
- Purchase a small desk converter to immediately transform your sitting desk into a standing one
Considering the easiest types of DIY, most are fixed and not adjustable. Why is this an issue?
Well, in a home office, the fixed setting is for one person; unless everyone is the same height in the family, the desk will only be usable for one person. Consider too, the ideal desk situation is not a fixed one. Any position that is fixed for long periods of time, be it standing or sitting, is bad for you. Sitting too long causes back problems3. Standing too long is linked with circulatory problems. Having a desk that is not adjustable can cause another problem if the user does not move around. By having an adjustable-height desk, you can have the freedom to sit or stand as needed while working.
DIYers are all about creativity, and that is to be praised; however, don’t let the creative juices leave out the science of ergonomics4. Since you’ll be standing, we’ll start from the ground up:
- Investing in a good anti-fatigue mat can greatly decrease the stress on your feet and back.
- Next up are your shoes; wear supportive shoes like tennis shoes or orthopedic shoes.
- Aim to keep your posture vertical, head above shoulders, shoulders in line with hips . If possible have a small stool where you can prop one foot up; be the captain of your home office.
- The standing desk height should be equal in relation to your elbows.
- Computer monitor should be at least 20 inches or an arms length away.
- The top of the monitor should be at or just below eye level.
- Keep wrists in a straight neutral position with hands at or below elbow level.
- Arrange the items on your desk so that the items you use most often are closest and the items that are not used as often are farther away. Desks most often end up this way anyways, however if you plan for it, your desk will be tidier.
- If you are just making the transition from a sitting to a standing desk, it is advised to pace yourself at first. Going from sitting 8 hours to suddenly standing 8 hours can be rough on the body. Take breaks often.
- If possible, invest in a drafting chair that can be adjusted so you can continue working while taking a break from all of the standing.
It’s true that most DIYers are looking to save money. However, time is just as valuable, if not more. Take into account the time you will need to spend to make your DIY standing desk. What materials will you use? How will you assemble them and how long will it take? Is there room for error? If you’ve counted the costs and are prepared to go the distance, we applaud you. If after reading this you feel you may not be ready to invest that much time to make your own standing desk, we’ve also got your back. A simple adjustable standing desk really can change your workflow and look good in the process.
Making a DIY, stable, adjustable, ergonomically approved, and low cost standing desk is possible. Follow these guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to standing, or sitting, or standing, or maybe sitting, but most likely standing while at work.