Backache and Standing Desks

As I have mentioned on Facebook, I have been suffering from lower back pain for the last month or so. I thought it was easing off, and cut back on my medication, but I was wrong.

Having just seen the doctor again, she reckoned that the most likely cause is the long time I spend sitting in front of a computer desk. This is hard to avoid, as I work with computers, albeit from home.

So my answer? To sit in front of a computer for even longer, researching how I can make things better.

My chair is a good one, purchased in the last year – I spent a decent amount of money on getting one suitable for my size and weight, and it is fully adjustable. So I am fairly certain that isn’t a problem. The issue is simply the number of hours I spend in it. So, not for the first time, my thoughts turned to a standing desk.

I have considered this a few times, but find it a difficult idea to commit to. I have been on customer sites before where the only option is to stand, and after a few hours, I have found it uncomfortable; although that may be more to do with my fitness than anything. But a desk where I could sit or stand… that’s an idea, especially if it was simply to change during the working day. So I started looking at adjustable desks.

One item I found was the Varidesk. This is a platform that sits on top of a conventional desk, and allows for the surface to be raised by up to 16″ when necessary. I liked the look of it, but I wasn’t sure of it. The fact that any monitors are just free-standing on a platform you are moving gave me concern, and I wasn’t quite sure if the height adjustment was suitable of someone of my height. In the end, the lack of any YouTube reviews (allowing me to look at the thing in action – *real* action, as opposed to marketing videos) ruled this out for me.

One of the other companies who seem to be quite prominent are Ergatron. Their WorkFit-D is a full-sized desk, that can be changed from sitting height to standing height quite easily. Again there is the issue of free-standing objects, but this desk appears to be a bit more substantial (and so less potentially wobbly) – also, most of the photos show them mounting monitors on arms bolted to the desk (an optional extra).

Now this option tempted me; and I may be tempted again in the future. However, now isn’t the right time for me to buy a new desk. For the last couple of years, I have been planning to move my home office into a different room. Laziness, junk storage issues, and, yes, my bad back have continued to delay that; and I will be astonished if I achieve anything before 2014, now. So if I am going to buy a new desk, especially an expensive, height-adjustable one, it will be after the move.

However, another Ergotron offering was intriguing, the WorkFit-S. A bolt-on to the front of your desk, that has a pillar on which VESA-mounted monitors and keyboard moved with a range of 18″. It looked kind of ridiculous to me, but there were a ton of YouTube videos and reviews, all saying pleasant things about it. It is not cheap, but at half the price of a fully moving desk, it was worth considering. I could quickly set it up in my old office, and simply move it to whatever desk goes into my new office.

So I’ve ordered it. If it can ease my back problems, it will be worth the money – I even went for express delivery from Amazon, so I can set it up over the weekend, ready for work next week. The WorkFix-S comes either with single or dual monitor mount. A lot of my colleagues use dual monitors, but I don’t. However, the Amazon deal includes an adapter that replaces one of the monitors with a laptop fixing, so I have gone for that.

If it works, who knows, I may even go for the full sized desk when I kit out the new office next year.

One Comment

  1. chris
    October 21, 2013

    What with one thing and another, I didn’t get to set up the WorkFit-S over the weekend, so I did it after work today. Surprisingly easy to do, and I now have a choice of standing up or sitting down at the computer.

    The big question is whether it is going to help me, or be a waste of money. It feels a bit strange typing while standing, and I seem to be making more typos this way – presumably because of the position of my body to the keyboard. But it is worth a try.

    Pros: It is really easy to change from seated to standing, just pull or push the whole thing into place.

    Cons: There is an appreciable wobble of the monitor as I type. Not a lot, but enough to be irritating. It may be that I can tighten up some of the mounts, or I may just get used to it.

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