Oceans Group Goes Vertical: My Experience with a Standing Desk

Standing desks certainly aren’t new, they’re becoming more and more prevalent and probably everyone knows someone who has done it. You may have even thought they looked ridiculous and had a bit of a chuckle but the idea is gaining in popularity so if you’ve thought about giving it a try, here is my experience.

The original thinking came from physical issues (not getting any younger) I was finding that I was sitting in interviews, sitting in meetings, sitting on the phone at my desk all day, as a consequence my hips were tight, my knees sore and the lower back had issues. But for a while I didn’t connect this to the actual desk or sitting down.  I bumped into a friend of mine who had moved to a standing desk for similar reasons and suggested that I try it out. So I went online and bought one, it cost all up about $500. That was about three months ago.

When I first started driving my new desk it was hard. Standing up in one position was tiring and to a degree impacted the hips and knees and back even more. For a short period, I thought about giving it up but persevered. I think what happens is your knees, hips and abs get stronger. After about two weeks your body adapts to standing, if you continue to do it you find you don’t actually consciously think about it anymore.

Strangely it begins to feel as comfortable as if you were sitting down, I’m guessing your muscles have adapted. I’ve found that now when I do sit down at my desk I don’t feel comfortable, I’ve got to stand up.

My wife is starting to get frustrated because I’ll often stand in the living room watching TV, which makes her feel a bit uncomfortable. It is a little bit weird.

You do need to teach yourself to stand properly and be aware that you aren’t putting too much weight on one leg without thinking about it, or leaning on the desk. You may subconsciously put your hip out to one side or lean forward, putting pressure on different joints.

I went to a physio and asked him to show me, given my body shape, what he thought was the best standing position for me. I tend to stand with my feet pointed out but that was putting pressure on my hips so I make the conscious effort to stand with my feet a bit straighter. You have to learn it, a bit like having to learn to run properly, you have to learn to stand properly.

Three months in, my back issues are gone, my hips are no longer tight and my knees are no longer sore so I’m back doing middle distance running that I had stopped doing for a few years. I’ve lost 2.5kgs without necessarily doing anything different (apart from swapping to a standing desk). One of my work colleagues has decided to do it as well. He’s in week three and also saying he wouldn’t go back.

It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you’ve been sitting at a desk, it’s never too late just to move about a bit.

I think people get a bit nervous about it. They think they’ll get too tired and for the first couple of weeks, the first month even, it feels like hard work and you are quite noticeably tired at the end of the day, but that’s just the adapting phase. Like when you start running for the first time and everything’s a bit sorer than usual. I used to get to about three o’clock and have to go out for coffee, finding myself a bit weary. I don’t get that anymore. So there are noticeable positives.

If you want to give it a try here are my suggestions.

Combine your desk with a Bluetooth headset for your mobile or a phone that has a cordless headset so that when you’re on phone calls you can walk around. You can find yourself getting a bit sore if you stand still all the time.

Buy a rubber mat that comes with some of these desks to soften the impact on the soles of your feet, especially if you’re wearing hard leather work shoes. This will help you if you’re standing all day, especially in the early days of standing up.

I got the Varidesk as it sits on top of your existing desk so you (most likely) don’t have to get corporal approval as it is not new infrastructure. It’s also adjustable so when I want to sit down and eat my lunch I can move it down and still have my screen in front of me.

Learn how to stand properly, and stay conscious of your standing position. Also get your screen at the right height so you’re not looking down and hurting your neck.  

Introduce it carefully and slowly, and be prepared as it takes a bit of effort. It’s like riding a bike, once you’ve done it you get it but you have to learn how first. And lastly…

Be prepared for lots of ridicule from your colleagues who will make comments such as “you look like you’re standing at a bar”.



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