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Hey Team Rocket,

I, like the rest of us, spend a lot of time sitting. 8 hours at work, an hour to work on the bus, and an hour back. Plus at least 2 or 3 when I get home, working on personal projects various and sundry. Basically the entire day.

It never used to bother me all that much, but I seem to have reached the point where I'm starting to feel really stiff and achy. Plus, to be frank, by the end of the day my ass hurts something terrible.

I've done a fair bit of reading about sitting apparati, especially the Herman Miller Aeron. Now, I'm sure it really is a snazzy bugger of a chair, but I just don't have umpteen bazillion dollars to spend on a new place to put my bum. I know it's worth it, since I spend so much time in it, but it's hard to wrap the head around paying that much for a chair.

There must be a better way!

Enter the question:

What about a Standing Desk?

Every 20 minute (it seems) LifeHacker or BoingBoing or the New York Times is ePublishing an article on how wonderful it is to stand while you work. I have to say that while these sources' reputations all hinge on being very early adopters of new tech fads that may or may not have as much merit as they seem, I must say that I'm a hairs-breadth from convinced.

At the same time, I'm dubious. I all too vividly remember the abject misery of being 16 and working 8 consecutive hours behind a retail desk and movie theatre concession stand. Ignoring the fact that I was also allowed neither to eat nor drink while in view of the public (sometimes 4+ hours at a stretch), I remember it being extremely tiring for my knees and lower-back.

I know there are at least a few of you who are already doing it standing, so, I thought it might be fun/interesting/illuminating to compile a compendium of Pros and Cons for anyone who might be thinking of making the switch to a standing desk.

Input is encouraged!


Here's my hack'n'slash version so far. You will notice that my KRKs are actually serving as the supports for the further shelf. Obviously I still have some work to do, But it's a start.

alt text


The List So Far:

Pro:

  • Reduced pressure on lower back.
  • Increased mobility.
  • Calorie Burn.
  • Increased concentration.
  • No need to get up to pace around importantly while talking on the phone.

Con:

  • Tired feet and knees.
  • Varicose Veins
  • Awkward for client visits (particularly if they're shorter/taller than you)
  • Your co-workers may, or may not, look at you funny.
  • Re-calibration of room acoustics (possibly).

Meh:

  • Posture, posture, posture. Can't get around the problem of posture. Just as important as when sitting.

Standing Desk Manufacturers:

Build Your Own:

Reference photos:

standing desk measurements alt text alt text alt text alt text alt text alt text alt text alt text


P.S. Feel free to suggest any other photos/manufacturers you come across.

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I love that you referred to us lot as Team Rocket :) –  Joe Thomas Cavers May 22 '11 at 21:53
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This is one of my all-time favorite posts on this site. –  Jay Jennings May 30 '11 at 6:44
    
While this is an interesting and well done question, it doesn't seem to really be about sound design in its current form. If it can be re-worked as a question about how to make standing desks work for a sound design or studio setup, then I think it will work well, but a general question about the benefits of standing desks is not related to Sound. –  AJ Henderson Jan 30 at 17:23

11 Answers 11

Walter Murch is a big believer in standing while he works -even in his KEM days he had it raised so he could stand... he goes on a fair bit about his reasons in both "In the Blink of an Eye" and "The Converstations" - although in those cases he's talking more about video than audio editing. I haven't tried it yet myself, but I'm seriously considering it for the rebuild of my personal room.

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Once I was working as a "mail sorting man" in a warehouse, and my desk was adjustable but not by a motor, but by a foot pedal. Those can't be too expensive and they don't steal any electricity. Just attach your speakers to the table somehow and it'll be fine, I think :S

Another way of solving this issue is to have a cordless mouse or keyboard.. My workspace is controller-free (eg no consoles or musical keyboards etc, only mouse & keyboard) and when I'm feeling restless I simply stand up or walk a bit away from the computer with my cordless mouse and keyboard :) a nanorest, but it's still a rest.

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I did try the 'standing desk' setup for a couple months...I found it brings stiffness and soreness to new areas. I then began switching back and forth every few hours. I found this was advantageous.

I still believe the best solution is stretching before and after work, as well as having one of those hot beads that you throw in the microwave and then wrap around your neck. And lots of water will also have its benefits. And certainly ergonomic equipment (mouse, mouse pad, keyboard pad, chair)

Cheers!

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We've had this kind of discussion before in a post about ergonomics. I work standing up, with a high "drafting" chair to sit on if I get tired. To date though, I haven't seen a better "standing" design than the one Jory Prum has got in his studio.

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@Shaun, Thanks! Any chance of a pic or two of your setup? The one you posted in the previous discussion has migrated pages, and your wife takes a lot of photos : ) –  g.a.harry May 23 '11 at 4:15

I actually just adjusted my desk last week to standing and so far have been really enjoying it! I was having the same problem as you, aching from sitting 8-12 hours a day and read some Lifehacker etc posts and decided to give it a shot.

I honestly think it's effectively solved all my problems. My feet are a little sore each day but that's lessening and I've read that other people have had the same thing and it's gone as time passes.

I do however still need to get something to mount my speakers and monitors on, they're currently not quite as high as they should be and I'm concerned that over time that'll start to affect my neck and cause more aching.

My advice would be if you can somehow prop your desk up on something and give it a shot, then do it and see how it works. If you like it you can always buy a new desk or keep it as it is, whatever works!

Hope this has helped, feel free to ask any questions.

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@Joe, the height is also one of my concerns. I'm 6'2", not a giant by any standards, but tall enough to make some things awkward. I'll probably end up having to build custom-height speaker stands. –  g.a.harry May 22 '11 at 20:04
    
@harry I'm looking at 45" tall stands with Auralex Mopads underneath (or the makeshift foam I have that is very like Mopads lol). This should hopefully aim it correctly but then I'm only 5'10". –  Joe Thomas Cavers May 22 '11 at 21:52

I had recently moved to Berkeley and didn't own a desk, yet, so I invested in an Ergotron Workfit-S. It's great. I spend most of the day standing, but I can quickly lower it to sitting. Also, with a standing desk I move around a lot while I'm listening or waiting for the computer.

One key is to stand correctly. If you're holding your body improperly or with a lot of tension then it's just as bad as sitting with bad posture. I take pilates for that. I also wear supportive shoes. I saw a guy who built a tiny sandbox to stand in that looked great. My dad never sits at the computer. He just raised up his monitor and put a pedestal-like table in front of his desk for his keyboard and tablet.

Here's a photo. I look a little awkward just cause I'm posing for the photo. :) http://www.nathanlively.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/IMG_1662.jpg

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Perfect. You don't look that awkward. –  g.a.harry May 23 '11 at 3:42
    
@Nathan that picture is amazing, that's exactly what I'm after! What stands are the monitors (speakers, not visual) on? –  Joe Thomas Cavers May 23 '11 at 7:27

Neat to see you guys found my setup already, but I can add a bit to the discussion. I began working standing back in 2000. I'd been working up at Skywalker Sound, had seen Beau Borders' standing workstation, and thought it was an excellent idea. Since my job at LucasArts included both sound design and studio maintenance work, I was constantly sitting down for very short periods to setup a batch process, then running down the hall to continue a task in the recording studio. It was quite tiresome, all the sitting and standing and sitting and standing. So I asked to raise my workstation and was told to go buy cinder blocks!

Once I'd raised everything up, it was clear that the arrangement suited me considerably and was going to continue long after I departed that job.

On exiting Lucas, I needed to find a standing workstation for my home studio and it was no easy task at that time. I visited nearly two dozen furniture stores before giving up. Then I lucked out and found the HON model I have been using since 2001. It had been unsellable at the shop I discovered it in and they gave me a huge discount to take it off their hands. I also ordered a tall drafting chair so I could easily alternate between sitting and standing at any time.

The next problem was speaker height. While working in a tiny space I was able to get along with cheap wall-mount TV stands from Home Depot, but they make acoustics quite difficult to tune; the low frequencies load up considerably at the wall when the speakers are so near the sheetrock. When I built my current space, I decided to invest in custom stands. I felt that Sound Anchors made very sturdy stands (especially for earthquake prone San Francisco) and contacted them about getting tall stands built. At that time (2004), they charged me for a stand + $2 per inch of additional height. I added about 20 inches to the standard height, so the 5 stands were definitely not inexpensive.

The nice thing about the arrangement is that the acoustics can be tuned for one position, but I can sit or stand to be in that position. (A footstool is highly recommended for the seated position, BTW.)

I was initially concerned about getting my clients (who sit behind me) to an elevated height, too. But the reality is that a 12' x 13' room is going to have drastic bass holes regardless of whether my clients are on tall chairs or not. I also found that clients rarely wanted to sit tall and it would also necessitate a tall desk for them, which I really don't have room for. The trade off ends up being that they trust my ears 99.999% of the time. Which is as it should be. :-) And if they're really concerned, they can come put their head in the listening position.

Another unanticipated issue is the fact that many people are a different height than me. I first noticed this when a couple friends from THX came by to see my new space. They both towered over me, as I'm 5'8" and they were at least 6' tall. That issue can be resolved easily, though: they just need to sit and not stand. It really hasn't been an issue, but it should be considered if your workstation will be utilized by a variety of people.

All told, I still love having a standing workstation and have no intention of altering it anytime soon. Is not for everyone, but I absolutely love it!

Jory

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Welcome Jory! Glad you found us! –  Steve Urban Jul 11 '12 at 8:01

I really like that natural oak modular Ikea looking setup in the 4th pic from the top.

Yeah, I'd personally advise that you should have an alternating scenario. Likely best to have a tall stool for some sitting on occasion like @Shaun Farley has suggested.

One idea is that you can put your Office/Internet workstation in a standing setup and keep your DAW as a sitting setup. That way you are going back and forth, but also since you're standing to do emails, browsing and etc it's more likely that you'll spend less time doing it. That way you won't have to modify your audio rig in any extreme way (especially in case it ends up that you're not happy working standing up). It'll be much easier to create a standing office setup. You won't have to worry about re-treating your room acoustics either. Oh, and you'll still have a sitting scenario in case you're hung-over or not feeling well and prefer to sit for the day.

Good luck and post some pics when/if you decide to try this out!

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@Syndicate, Purely on aesthetics I'd have to go for the one with the "Refresh" poster. Sadly, you'd never be able to get speakers set up for something like that. –  g.a.harry May 23 '11 at 8:03

Give yourself the option of doing BOTH!

At work we use these: Height Adjustable Desks. They are excellent.. as long as you have the cable length, you can quickly go from sitting to standing in a few seconds.

A lot of folks use the tall type desk chairs and just sit and stand alternately while keeping their desk higher. I get up and walk once an hour, so I never have sore-ass syndrome, but I can see if you're locked down how it can be a pain.

I also really like kneeling chairs. It changes your posture nicely and is good if you have any back problems. Another option is an exercise ball. Great for the butt, forces an upright posture, and you can do some crunches if you take a little break. I think you can still keep a lower desk and explore some better chair options like beanbags or pillow chairs. If you don't have to have a formal professional looking setup, you can do something alternative.

Good luck!

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A few years ago I went thru some heavy back issues that required phys therapy. I dont do the exercises that cured me anymore (shame on my lazy self), but i still do 1 thing that is easy and even enjoyable. I replace my chair for about an hour a day with one of those giant exercise balls (65-75 cm).

It helps build core strength (which is critical for back health), and it doesnt take any time out of the day. They cost about 20$, and its kinda fun if you can deal with people making fun of you at work. There are a bunch of at-work excercises you can do with it as well.

dr

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Whether you believe in standing desks or not, if you are spending 40+ hours a week sitting behind a computer there is no way that is going to be good for you. You will end up wrecking your body eventually.

Sitting always leads to a slumping posture and a curved back. If you stand for at least a few hours a day, you give your body a chance to recover. No one is saying we should be standing all day, rather a few hours a day will definitely help our bodies.

An anti-fatigue mat will help with the leg pain. Also as mentioned a high stool to rest.

I don't believe its a fad. If you look at the people who are standing, the vast majority of them would say that they would never go back to sitting. That tells you a lot about whether or not standing desks are going to be a fad or or something more permanent.

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