There’s been a lot of ridiculous advice lately on social media and the internet about working from home by people who have never done it. I’ve been working for home full time for over 20 years, and I could give out lots of tips on productivity, focus, distraction, etc., but to me the things you want to do if you are working from home at this particular moment in history are, A) stay healthy, and B) make your home office as much as possible like the real office in which you used to get work done. A stand up desk is definitely a good solution for A, and if like thousands of employers across the nation, yours had already embraced this concept, than adding one to your home if you had one at the office will also solve B.
On top of all this, while the health and longevity benefits of standing over sitting have been very well documented, we are also living at a moment when a lot of people are cut off from their conventional means of exercise and fitness routines. I just wrote a story here at Forbes about a fantastic app that will let you take all kinds of guided classes led by world class instructors in a wide variety of disciplines (yoga, strength training, cardio, bootcamp, cycling, running, walking, etc.) in your home for free (for the next three months) and that is a great option right now. But anything you can do to stay more active and healthier is vital, and a stand up desk can be part of that solution.
The stand up desk trend is not new, and I wrote about it back when I got my first model six years ago. Now I can personally confirm the benefits, and among other things, I feel a positive difference at the start of every ski season now even as I get older (I am an avid skier), ditto for the start of spring road cycling season, and even walking the golf course carrying my bag, the normal way I play, is easier since I started standing at work. Because of this, for years I have implored my friends to go stand up, just as my wife has. It works. I was standing when I wrote this and standing when I wrote much of what you’ve read of mine in this column, magazines, newspapers and books in the past few years.
The World Health Organization identified physical inactivity as the fourth biggest killer on the planet (ahead of obesity), and there are tons of rationales to stop sitting. But just one example article on the subject included scary stats about sitting such as slower blood flow resulting in clumping of red blood cells in the legs; up to a 20% drop in “good” cholesterol; heart disease risk soaring up to two and half times greater; rise in chronic inflammation; decreased lung capacity; rotator cuff weakness and/or tightened hip flexors, glutes and pecs, leading to decreased range of motion; and a doubling of the risk of diabetes. All of these came from sitting, which most of us do for about 10 hours per day. To make matters worse, these problems were not alleviated by other exercise – no matter how much. Not surprisingly, for this story Men’s Journal magazine minced no words on the title -“Sitting: The Most Unhealthy Thing You Can Do.” So, while standing is good for you, you can also look at it simply as avoiding sitting, just as you might avoid smoking.
But the standing is also actively advantageous, burning around 155 calories per hour more than sitting, and this is perhaps the greatest fear or misunderstanding about going stand up – you don’t have to suddenly stand all the time. You can do it for an hour a day to start, and many think it is even better to alternate shorter period of standing and sitting, instead of standing for one big chunk.
In order to do this you should skip the cheapest types of desks, which are stand up only (essentially taller tables or podiums), and go for one that easily adjusts up and down. There are motorized commercial models, but unless price is no object, I have been perfectly happy for years with two less expensive, mechanical models from industry leader Vari (I upgraded to a bigger one when I started using dual monitors). These are flattish contraptions less than six inches high that sit on top of my existing desk, hold the monitor and and other stuff (my phone, keyboard, mouse, etc.) and easily adjust up and down with spring loaded trigger-action handles. The squeeze of a lever gives you a variable range of heights, and as it required no installation, furniture swaps or other modifications to my office, I had it out of the box and up and running in minutes.
What I love about the Vari solution is that it offers the full up and down flexibility you need in a standing desk with a low price point and easy adoption using your existing desk, but if you want, they also have full-height models to replace your desk (or for newfound home offices, to become your first desk). The large size double monitor version I have, the Vari Pro Plus 48 (inches) costs $495, while the least expensive dual monitor version is $395, and single monitor models start at $295. In comparison, top shelf motorized models cost several times as much and can run well in excess of three grand.
But at the end of the day, I think you should use a standing desk, at work, at home, wherever you use a desk, and simply doing it is more important than which brand or style you opt for. There are lots of choices out there. Be well!