Are Standing Desks Good for You? | art by Jonan Everett

Art by Jonan Everett

Are Standing Desks Good for You?

•  3 minute read

The jury’s still out on whether standing desks are scientifically proven to boost productivity and income, but for many freelancers and office workers, it’s a godsend.

It’s 1:30 p.m. How are you feeling? As for me, I’m getting a lot of work done, and I’m still feeling just fine. If you had asked me a month ago, though, I would have told you a very different story; I would have been crashing big time with post-lunch sleepiness.

Everyone is affected to a different degree by the post-lunch dip. But there must be something unique about my genetics, because everyone in my family seems like they’re borderline narcoleptic. After lunch, I become downright catatonic and can’t focus on anything, let alone on the important work at hand.

But I found something that changed everything: a standing desk! More accurately, I use a high ledge in my apartment that’s at just the right height for me to comfortably type on my laptop while standing.

But semantics aside, I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful in boosting my productivity. For freelancers like me, more work means more money. But even if you’re a W-2 employee, you can still benefit from a standing desk. No boss is going to penalize you because you’re just too darn productive.

Further Reading: “How to Optimize Your Time When You Work From Home”

Can Standing Desks Make You More Productive?

It seems odd that simply standing up would lead to a boost in productivity — wouldn’t you be more tired from standing all day, not less?

Indeed, one 2014 study did show variable productivity results from standing desks. On the other hand, a more recent 2016 study of call-center employees reported that workers with standing desks showed an approximately 53 percent boost in productivity levels over the course of six months. So are standing desks good for you or not?

In my case, I can say without a doubt that having one helps. I’ve almost completely eliminated my post-lunch dip. Now I’m able to keep up my peppy morning pace throughout the afternoon hours.

I also started picking up more work at about the same time I started standing up. Not only was I able to keep up with it, but I got everything out on time — even ahead of schedule. I actually boosted my earnings by 50 percent, and I know standing up had a big part to play!

I’m not the only one, either. Emilie Burke, a freelance writer and startup consultant from Burke Does, also recently switched to a standing desk. She agrees with me.

“I feel much more productive when standing. I can’t wait to move to a walking desk!” she says.

Freelance writer Alexandra Sheehan agrees. “I am more alert while doing my work,” she says. “When I was sitting all the time, it was easier for me to become unproductive and distracted online. Standing up, I am less inclined to do so.”

Further Reading: Check out one woman’s story of transitioning into a freelance writing career.

Are They Healthier for You?

If using a standing desk doesn’t translate into a productivity and income boost for you, perhaps it’ll still make your life a little bit easier. It may even save you from some expensive medical bills in the long run.

The aforementioned 2014 study concluded that overall discomfort was reduced when workers stood at their desks versus sitting on their duffs all day. Sheehan started using a standing desk four years ago for just this reason. “I was sick of having so much lower back pain,” she says, “so I took the opportunity to get a standing desk to see if that would fix it. Sure enough, it did!”

My brother-in-law Chris van Someren, chief executive at Ascentador Consulting, has also noted significant health benefits: “Alternating my position throughout the day has led to less lower back tightness and a stronger feeling of well-being. I cannot recommend it highly enough.”

Further Reading: Learn how preventative care can save both your health and your wallet.

Added Benefits of Standing Desks

Your health isn’t the only thing that will benefit from a standing desk. You can also:

  • Be super prepared if a cockroach comes to visit. Shoes are your weapon — choose them wisely.
  • Kick a ball back and forth with your child using minimal effort. They’ll think you still love them.
  • Impress your salsa class by practicing those tricky moves as you balance spreadsheets.

The Bottom Line: Are Standing Desks Good for You?

Standing desks can run the gamut of prices, ranging from a few dollars to thousands.

If you’re trying to be uber-frugal like me, you can just find a high counter in your home or office and boost it up as needed with thick textbooks as needed (and anti-sliding mats, hopefully). When I need a break from standing, I simply take my laptop back to my sitting desk.

If you’re just getting used to standing desks, don’t sweat it (literally). Build up to it gradually by standing for longer and longer periods each day until you’re comfortable with the amount of time you’re sitting and standing. Padded anti-fatigue mats may also help, as can wearing sneakers. This isn’t the time for your fancy high-heeled stilettos.

Emilie Burke points out, “The first two weeks of a standing desk can be a bit of a physical transition. You might find yourself sore from all the standing, if it’s something you’re not used to. I think what’s most important is to listen to your body!”

So are standing desks good for you? In the end, only you can decide. If you often find yourself getting tired in your office environment and need a little push, why not give it a try? Don’t be a couch potato — stand up!

Further Reading: “Being Money-Minded Can Even Help You Build Muscles!”