Sit stand desks / adaptors can be a great way of incorporating more movement into your working day when you are based at a DSE workstation, in the office or at home.
Different Types of Sit Stand Options
There are a number of different options if you want to be able to adjust between the seated and standing position when at the workstation.
Sit stand desktop adaptors, I find, work well for DSE users that want to be able to stand during virtual meetings, while completing typing and mouse tasks in the seated position.
If looking to purchase a desktop adaptor, be suer to measure the surface area of your current desk and get the dimensions of the adaptor you want to be sure it will fit on your current desk. A lot of home work surfaces are too shallow to accommodate a desktop adaptor.
Ideally, I would always recommend a sit stand desk as the best option as this allows with whole work surface to be raised and lowered as required, reducing bending to reach items from the desk that may be required. Also, a desk can be adjusted by electronic push button is a more user-friendly option compared to a crank operated desk and it requires less effort to adjust, increasing the likelihood that working position will be altered frequently.
How To Get The Most From Your Sit Stand DSE Workstation
Use an electronically adjustable desk if possible
The easier it is to adjust your workstation, the more likely you are to adjust it frequently.
With the exception of some models (the Oploft comes to mind) the desk will also provide more surface area for support and equipment compared to a sit stand adaptor with a split level surface.
Make sure to alternate frequently between sitting and standing
You now have a desk that allows you to move frequently so use it!
Any prolonged or static postures can have a negative impact on musculoskeletal health.
I recommend starting with short periods of standing, 10 – 15 minutes, building up to a maximum of 45 minutes in both the seated and standing posture.
Some tasks are easier to do in the standing position, for example taking calls and virtual meetings, while some people find it easier to complete typing tasks while seated. Spend the time to find what works for you.
Listen to your body. If you feel yourself starting to fidget, slouch or lean to one side in either posture, that is your body telling you it is getting tired and should be your signal to change position and / or take a microbreak from the workstation.
Ensure the desk is at the correct height for you when sitting and standing
A fool-proof guide to ensuring you workstation is at the correct height for your stature in both the sitting and standing positions is to have it level with your elbows / belly button when your shoulders are relaxed and feet planted on the floor. This will prevent adverse postures and excess strain in the shoulders and lower back.
Ensure the monitor is at the correct height for you when sitting and standing
Ideally, when you are seated / standing upright and looking straight ahead, your eye-line should be on the top third of the monitor. A slight upward tilt on the monitor will help keep the neck in a relaxed position. The good news is that the distance from your elbow to your eyeline is consistent whether sitting or standing so if set up correctly on a sit stand desktop you should not have to adjust it each time you alter your posture.
If using a sit stand desktop adaptor, you may need to adjust the monitor position slightly when moving between sitting and standing. It will depend on the model being used.
If using a laptop, I recommend placing it on a stand and using an external keyboard and mouse.
Aim to keep your hips level when standing
One common occurrence when people stand at a workstation is that they shift their weight to one leg, tilting the hips and bending one knee, while locking the weight bearing knee. This causes uneven weight distribution and strain.
One tip to avoid this is to place a box or footrest under the desk and intermittently place one foot on it at a time. This will allow for a change in standing position with reduced strain.
If you aim to stand more than you sit at your workstation, and your floor surface is hard, anti-fatigue matting should be considered to reduce fatigue and discomfort in the lower limbs.
Consider your footwear!
It is important to wear shoes with good arch support and firm sole if you are going to be standing frequently during the day, especially if you are flat footed. If casual shoes are not permitted in an office, use gel or foam shoe inserts.
Can A Sit Stand Desk Replace Regular Microbreaks?
Sit stand workstations are a good option to increase mobility at the workstation, especially if you experience discomfort or tightness in the lower back, hips or hamstrings or have a role that restricts your ability to take microbreaks from the workstation.
However, in my experience, sit stand workstations do not provide relief from symptoms of upper back, neck or upper limb issues.
Working in the standing position is not an alternative to taking microbreaks from the workstation. When working on the computer, you should leave the workstation briefly every 45 minutes, e.g. go get a glass of water, to give the back, neck, shoulders, upper limbs and eyes a break from the demands of the DSE workstation.