The Standing Office

Many Americans sit for a vast majority of their waking hours. I definitely fell (sat?)  in that category, until a few months ago when I decided to do something about it.

Those things you sit in

If you’re anything like me, and odds are good that you are; in a given week you spend 35 hours working a desk job, sitting; 14 hours (or way more) driving a car, sitting; and 10 more hours at meals, sitting. If you’re close to the average American, then there’s 30 more hours per week watching TV… you guessed it, sitting.

That’s a little over half of all the hours in a week. Not waking hours; all 168 of ’em. For waking hours, it’s closer to 75% (depending on how much sleep you actually get). That’s 85 hours in a seat on average, and there’s plenty who sit for more than that.

I can’t stand up while I drive to work (wouldn’t that be awesome though?!) or when I go to the movies or when I eat dinner. So I changed the one significant remainder; when I’m on the computer at work and at home.

Of course, I didn’t have all those statistics a few months ago when I started all this; just a mysteriously tweaked back muscle and the nagging thought that I was sitting more than I liked, and that it should change…

Even with good ergonomics, sitting all day kinda sucks

Maybe it’s because I’m left-handed, but I often re-shape my physical space to better suit my needs. Monitor? Raised up. Mouse? On the left. But those changes were no longer enough, more was needed. I first changed my office work station, where I took a look under the adjustable keyboard tray. Unknown to me and everyone else in the office, the cube-furniture was actually outfitted to convert to a standing position:

Now I can see things, and stuff!

The office furniture was designed to adjust to a standing position, and it’s awesome. The incline of the keyboard tray keeps my wrist flexure down and I’m no longer anchored to a chair that required a cardboard shim in its workings to seat me where I wanted.

At home was a completely different matter, mostly because even though our home furniture is also old and hand-me-down (like at work), it’s not 1980’s office furniture equipped to transform into power-hour-mode. Which means that someone had to get creative.


Thinking occurred, some rowdy shoes were evicted from their high-rise, the desk was hoisted, and voila:

Side by side, and standing

And it’s awesome. Both at work and at home I enjoy the option to stand and work; and I exercise that option probably 3 times out of 4. Instead of being anchored to a chair I’m free to move and see and fidget and breathe and wander and think and do. Now I don’t sit simply because I’m there, I sit because I want to (and usually because my feet have had enough).  The benefits for me are multiple, though I can’t really quantify them or prove them. I categorically feel more energetic, less hamstrung, and more focused when I’m working.

This surprisingly poorly written article from Cornell’s department of Ergonomics says that standing all the time can be bad for you too. I’m not advocating that we abolish chairs.

A few weeks after shifting the office desk, the back muscle that was maybe not-so-mysteriously tweaked calmed down. Also, I now have some horrifying statistics about how many hours people spend sitting down, probably hunched over a computer!

How far do you go to shape your space to suit you? Or does your space shape you?


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