A Year of Using a Standup Desk

I’ve been using a computer at a standup desk since April 2012 (almost a year.) When I first started using a standup desk, the key things that I noticed were that it was challenging to stand all day and that I felt more awake and able to contribute. 

Companies (especially startups) are noticing the twin benefits of standing up and of the attendant productivity gains – here’s a video demonstrating what the folks at Freshbooks are doing:

Fast forward to February 2013, and the following things about using a standup desk seem true to me:

  • Standing for long periods of time now feels natural
  • The overall fitness benefit is substantial
  • And my ability to make points as a public speaker is better

What’s the net benefit for each of these observations?

Standing Feels Natural

This sort of makes sense, doesn’t it? Stand all day, and it will feel natural? (Duh.) When I was sitting all day, every day, and telling myself that I was getting some exercise when I got up to go to the refrigerator or on a brief walk outside, I wasn’t practicing the effort of standing. In particular, my sense of being in a space has improved. And when I spend all day standing, the act of delivering training to customers and to answering their questions feels more like it does when I’m actually in front of them (more on this a bit later.)

The net benefit: using a standing desk makes the process of standing feel more everyday and natural. (A mundane, but important benefit.)

You Get Much Healthier

Whatever you were doing before, if you consider that you have been probably sitting for eight plus hours a day, the simple act of getting up and standing has varied health benefits and helps you live longer. I’ve also found that I have more energy throughout the day, I get tired less easily and I have better core strength and ability to stretch. I haven’t quantified the benefits, but I just feel better.

The net benefit: turning 8 hours of inactivity into subtle activity brings unexpected health benefits (your own mileage may vary, but try it out!)

You are more nimble on your feet. Literally.

The act of presenting from your feet – whether while on a web cam or simply on a conference call – provides lots of opportunities to refine your ability to speak publicly. One of the best benefits I’ve found to standing up and sharing information with customers is being able to better identify and stop my “stop words” or “filled pauses.” Spending time to identify the pauses you make and substituting silence is a great gain.

The net benefit: being more mindful of what’s coming out of your mouth can always help you 😉

I’m still standing up almost a year later. I haven’t gone through with my initial plan to get a standup treadmill desk yet, and I’m thinking through that idea still. I think I prefer taking a walk outside to walking through my email. But while I am answering customer questions, I am more mindful, healthy, and awake because I’m standing up through more hours of the day.


13 thoughts on “A Year of Using a Standup Desk

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  1. Great post Greg. I’m not at my desk very much, but I do spend a lot of time sitting in partners and customers offices (and hotel rooms and airplane seats) to get work done. I wonder if the trend will catch on to have stand up desk options at hotels.

    Also, one of the things my dad instituted 30 years ago at his company was … Stand Up Meetings. It was controversial at the time, but people got to the point (as you mentioned in your post) faster and they got back to doing what they were supposed to be doing … managing their teams … sooner.

    1. Jeff – Thanks! Standups are a great and effective part of the Agile process, and love the idea of getting back to what you were supposed to be doing … faster 😉

  2. Hi Greg — thanks for the update. I remember you original post when you first moved to the standing desk and I have been waiting to hearing updates. I went to a standing desk about 5 weeks ago and am enjoying it quite a bit. I find it keeps me more focused and productive with my computer work.

  3. Hi Greg, thanks for the post.
    How’s the standing going at this point? Have you thought at all about getting an adjustable height desk rather than a standing desk?
    I ask because I was in the same boat at first– using just a standing desk. I started to realize that though I liked standing better for most of the day, there are times when I need to sit down (I call them short “sitting breaks.”)
    Now I use a NextDesk so I can just push a button and move from standing to sitting or any height in between. I am really impressed with this product and recommend it to anyone (including you!)
    Check it out if you are interested. http://www.nextdesks.com.

    Thanks again.


    1. Eric –

      I sit for 10-15 minute stretches during calls a couple of times during the day – that helps, along with hip flexor stretches. I also have a closed-cell foam mat that I stand on.


  4. I worked at a standing desk from 2010-2012. Since I’ve been bootstrapping clippPR I haven’t made the investment for one at home, and I’m missing it. =(

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