Health

How to Use a Standing Desk Without Looking Like a Tool

Published On 10/03/2016 Published On 10/03/2016

It's hard to overstate just how terrible sitting all day is for you: it kills your back, ruins your posture, and can cut down your lifespan by a significant amount. Sitting leads to almost 4% of all -- ALL -- deaths! Luckily, more and more employers are offering standing desks in an effort not to, you know, kill their employees slowly. For those with an eye on staying alive as long as possible (most people), taking advantage of a standing desk is a no-brainer.

But standing at work isn't just a preference; it's a powerful new way of life. And with great power comes great responsibility... to avoid being an asshole, because it's a truth universally acknowledged that a man or woman with a standing desk risks looking like a smug piece of trash. Anyway, here's how to utilize your new standing desk like a goddamn pro, without drawing the ire of your colleagues.

Don't be TOO smug about it

Look, you know you're helping extend your life by a few months -- months! -- and saving your back and posture from irreversible damage. But maybe the people around you aren't as quick on the uptake as you are, or maybe they just don't care. Either way, don't rub your infinite health wisdom and knowledge of longevity in their faces; stand tall, stand proud, but don't stand and preach. 

Make sure you're not standing like Quasimodo

This seems like a no-brainer, but using a standing desk is pretty much worthless if you're still hunched over your computer -- standing, by itself, doesn't erase the strain on your back and neck.

Keep your monitor or laptop propped up at eye level to maintain optimal posture (and save your back and neck!), and try to avoid the desire to rest your arms and elbows on your desk. If you're feeling fatigued while standing, go for a little stroll around the office.

Don't peer into your neighbor's desk space

When you're standing, elevated above the desk space, it gives you a whole new view of the office, and sometimes a whole new view into Brenda's work world. Monitors, personal photos, and cat calendars are all within the eye's gaze. Resist the urge to pry! The websites Brenda visits are no one's business but her own and the NSA's, and you probably don’t want to know that much about her personal life anyway.

Don't dick around on the internet

Related to the above, but more extreme. Now that your computer is elevated above normal desk height, it's much easier for people to see what's on your screen; a small price to pay for saving your back and extending your life. This means that you should probably stay on task, and and not pull up any NSFW images or websites, unless you want them to be seen by everyone walking by. Which you might want, if you're trying to get fired, but who knows if you'll be able to snag a standing desk at your next job?

Invest in comfortable shoes (and/or a cushioned mat)

Nothing will put a damper on your standing-desk space like painful footwear; standing for a few minutes becomes unbearable, let alone all day. Make sure you're equipped with shoes that have proper arch support, like sneakers. Keeping an extra pair at work might be helpful if you have to wear heels or dress shoes to meetings throughout the day.

If wearing sneakers at work isn't an option, at least opt for a mat to rest your tired dogs on. Standing, even if it's barefoot or in flats, on a cushioned mat will help alleviate back pain. 

Master the art of the seamless transition

There are now these desktop contraptions that elevate your computer from a sitting to standing position with the pull of a lever. Options! But the problem with those are that they can be quite finicky, and raising and lowering them without much distraction is... difficult.

If you can, try and practice on your desk space after hours so you're not raising, lowering, and potentially knocking things over during the workday. (Full disclosure: these are the same desks Thrillist staffers were blessed with recently, and not everyone has quite perfected the art of moving up and down without causing a scene and/or doing damage to computers.)  

Don't lock your knees and pass out

This is real! The science behind why locking your knees causes you to faint is still up in the air; it may restrict blood flow to the brain, or it could have more to do with being stressed and dehydrated. Either way, for anyone who's stood in military formation or been in high school concert choir, there seems to be a correlation. Don't take that chance. Bend your knees and change up your standing position. This isn't ROTC -- you don't need to stand stiff and straight for hours at a time. Plus, Brenda will appreciate you not passing out on her work space and knocking over her cat calendar. 

Don't use your new standing desk as a gym

Standing is one step in the right direction of better health, but don't use it as a license to turn your work station into a fitness studio. In a perfect world you'd be able to exercise at work without feeling like a fool. But the reality is that doing lunges, squats, or yoga poses at your work station is particularly distracting -- especially if you're in close quarters with other employees. Fit in your sweat sesh in other office locations, like an empty conference room. Or climb your building's stairs a few times; save the planks and sumo squats for after hours. 

Standing desks are a proper-postured step in a healthy direction, just don't be an asshole about it. Nobody wants to be that person who's constantly bragging about how much healthier he or she is, doing lunges every 20 minutes, and creeping on other people's work. After all, it's still just a desk. 

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Christina Stiehl is a Health and fitness staff writer for Thrillist who still mostly uses a seated desk for fear of looking like an idiot. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaStiehl.

Clickbait

close

Learn More