By now we have all heard the warning, "Sitting is the new smoking." Resting on our laurels all day is slowly killing us, but most of us have no other options, since in the modern age our jobs require us to be connected to our computers upwards of 10 hours a day.
Ergonomics experts say the answer is an adjustable desk that allows us to alternate between sitting and standing. If you don’t want to part with your gorgeous solid wood executive desk in favor of an industrial-looking drafting-table type desk, then you can try to make your own adjustable desk. Many desk jockeys have even resorted to cardboard boxes and a mishmash of lifts, stands and other devices that help elevate a computer monitor or laptop.
This is a good temporary solution, but most of these desks are hideous looking and can ruin the aesthetics of an office. For us who are style-minded, it has been like the choice between flats or heels. One is comfortable and will save your back and feet, but the other so much more pleasing to the eye.
The ideal sit-and-stand desk is one where style matches function, and that's what I found in Lotus Sit Stand Workstation by Fellowes (MSRP $499), available at Office Depot. Staples and Office Max.
This workstation, which comes in white or black, is ready to go out of the box, with no assembly required. It features a dial to adjust a platform upper down to raise a keyboard and monitor shelf at once to 17 different positions. Its operation is smooth and easy, so even if you must repeat the process of raising and lowering it multiple times in a day, it is not a terrible inconvenience.
While the workstation is primarily for separate monitor and keyboard systems, it is flexible and can be used with a number of different set ups, including laptops with or without wireless peripherals, such as a wireless keyboard and mouse. For all-in-one users and old-fashioned desktop users, there is a wire cubby to hide cables, so those ever-important aesthetics are preserved.
Additionally, the set-up kit came with a plastic spiral cord keeper that might just be the best discovery I’ve made to declutter my under-desk area. My tangle of at least a half dozen cables is now one ponytail of a cord, which is much neater and organized looking. Now I need to find where to get these for all my electronics.
While Fellows named this system a "workstation," just to be clear, it is not a complete desk, it is an adjustable, multi-level, table-top platform, i.e., it has to sit on a desktop or countertop. Also, as the "Sit Stand" portion of the name implies, the workstation is for both sitting and standing, and ergonomics experts will tell you, the goal is not to stand all day but to alternate positions, from sitting to standing. Getting used to the desk is a gradual process, and you should build up from 10 minutes to 30 minutes of standing at a time.
To give your back a break from prolonged standing, an excellent accessory to a stand-up desk is cushioned pad to stand on, such as the eco-friendly NewLife EcoPro mat ($79.95 for a 20" x 32" size). These high-density polyurethane foam mats reduce spinal compression to help relive discomfort and stress on the back and prevent fatigue. When not in use, they can be stored under the desk, out of the way of a chair.
As the name Lotus implies, conjuring up the showy sacred flower, this desk is beautifully designed, sleek as such a practical and functional piece of equipment like this can be. Until one day these lift systems can be incorporated into glamorous high-end furniture, this is a fantastic quick fix that will save your back and neck and get you off your derrière. And if all the research about the unhealthiness of sitting is accurate, it may even save your life.