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The stand-up desk craze: what is it, and how can you try it out?

Standing desks are wildly popular in tech offices and coworking spaces across the nation, and the benefits are substantial, but how do you know if it’s right for you without investing dough?

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Why are stand up desks taking the professional world by storm?

Sitting at your desk for eight hours a day can become tedious very quickly, and we’ve all heard how gaining weight is a natural side effect or result of this type of sedentary behavior. Unfortunately, many of us don’t have much of a choice, as our jobs require us to sit at a computer or at a desk all day.

But the truth is that you do have an interesting option—the stand up desk. The stand up desk is exactly what you think: a desk that allows you to work while standing up.

Advantages of standing desks

There are several advantages to making the switch to a stand up desk. The first is obvious. You’ll burn more calories standing up than sitting down. This will help you be more active throughout the day so that dreaded weight gain won’t find you.

The second advantage is that it can help you become more productive. Sitting down can cause you to be more recessive in nature. But if you stand, you will feel more energized and your mind and body will know it’s time to get things accomplished.

A third advantage is that it can help alleviate back pain from being seated for long periods of time. It can build your back and torso muscles so that you can not only alleviate that pain, but get rid of it altogether, and fans of standing desks say it also helps with your posture.

Disadvantages of standing desks

One major disadvantage to using a stand up desk is that it can be hard on your body if you’re not wearing the right shoes or even standing with the right posture. Doing anything for eight hours straight – and many times even longer – is hard on your body, no matter if it’s sitting or standing.

The second disadvantage is having lunch at your desk. In your job or industry, eating your lunch at your desk while you continue to work on tasks can be cumbersome. If so, you’ll have to find some place to sit down so you can eat your lunch, and then get right back to work after.

The final disadvantage to a stand up desk is potentially a lack of privacy. If you work in a space with many other coworkers, standing up while working could mean that you’re the center of attention and everything you do within your work station is visible to everyone around you. If you need to make a phone call at your desk, some people may watch you absentmindedly. If you need to reapply some makeup or zip up a forgotten zipper, guess what? You’re basically on a stage.

The takeaway

Stand up desks have taken the professional world by storm because they promote a healthier lifestyle than the alternative. However, making the switch will take some getting used to. In fact, you may feel wiped out during the first few days or weeks as you adjust. And if you want to take it one step further, there are even stand up desks with treadmills.

Or, if you don’t want to commit to one type of desk, you do have the option to purchase a desk that converts to a standing or sitting desk. The important thing is that you’re aware and you take control of your health and your professional life. Ultimately, you’ll need to decide and act upon which method works best for you.

Bonus: try out a stand up desk right now

Before investing in a new desk, or creating your own, Lifehacker style, there are some ways you can try out a stand up desk to see if it is something you even like, as visually outlined below:

stand-up desk

Remember, ergonomics are important, and there is such a thing as a standing desk that is too high or too low, so study the visual below, and go to the Ergotron calculator and enter your height to see where your personal standing desk needs to be.

standing desk

For more inspiration, visit Flickr.com and do a search for “standing desk” and “stand up desk” to see what is already being used in the workplace.

The American Genius Staff Writer: Charlene Jimenez earned her Master's Degree in Arts and Culture with a Creative Writing concentration from the University of Denver after earning her Bachelor's Degree in English from Brigham Young University in Idaho. Jimenez's column is dedicated to business and technology tips, trends and best practices for entrepreneurs and small business professionals.

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33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. BullRealty

    September 20, 2012 at 5:45 am

    @mheschmeyer when you tried stand up desk, did you have sit down option? Nice to sit and then stand sometimes like when making sales calls?

    • mheschmeyer

      September 20, 2012 at 6:15 am

      @BullRealty Did not Michael. It was like standing behind a pulpit.

      • UpDesk

        September 20, 2012 at 9:52 am

        @mheschmeyer I agree with @BullRealty. It’s more about finding the perfect mixture of sitting AND standing.

  2. okaycitynate

    September 20, 2012 at 8:35 am

    @ShowMeOKC I do! I’ve been working at a stand-up desk since January and I *love* it!

    • ShowMeOKC

      September 20, 2012 at 8:36 am

      @okaycitynate Awesome! What are the top 3 things you love about it?

      • okaycitynate

        September 20, 2012 at 9:32 am

        @ShowMeOKC Off the top of my head: My back feels great, I have more energy throughout the day, and it’s easier to manage desktop clutter.

        • ShowMeOKC

          September 20, 2012 at 9:32 am

          @okaycitynate Thank you! Those sound like major benefits.

        • okaycitynate

          September 20, 2012 at 9:34 am

          @ShowMeOKC downsides: my feet sometimes hurt, it’s harder to eat lunch at my desk, and it hasn’t helped me lose one extra ounce.

        • ShowMeOKC

          September 20, 2012 at 9:36 am

          @okaycitynate Those makes sense too. Do you move around a lot more than you did before?

        • okaycitynate

          September 20, 2012 at 9:40 am

          @ShowMeOKC not as much as I’d expected, but yes.

        • ShowMeOKC

          September 20, 2012 at 9:42 am

          @okaycitynate Thanks for the info! Really helps to have input from real-life locals 🙂

  3. desireegood

    September 20, 2012 at 8:56 am

    @ShowMeOKC I love my standing desk! I still use a chair occasionally but like the option to do either.

    • ShowMeOKC

      September 20, 2012 at 8:57 am

      @desireegood It sounds great! How long have you been using the standing desk?

      • desireegood

        September 20, 2012 at 9:01 am

        @ShowMeOKC about 6 months. I have an IKEA desk with adjustable legs but I wish it would go a little bit higher.

        • ShowMeOKC

          September 20, 2012 at 9:01 am

          @desireegood Great! So, was that desk made to be a standing desk, or did you modify it?

        • desireegood

          September 20, 2012 at 9:11 am

          @ShowMeOKC The legs are adjustable so it’s made to be taller but even though I am only 5’3″ it still needs to be about 4″ higher.

        • ShowMeOKC

          September 20, 2012 at 9:12 am

          @desireegood Ah, interesting. Seriously considering it here in the office.

        • desireegood

          September 20, 2012 at 9:15 am

          @ShowMeOKC there are about 20 of us that have gone to the standing. One guy even had custom legs made to get the height he wanted.

        • ShowMeOKC

          September 20, 2012 at 9:17 am

          @desireegood Wow! Any chance you could send a pic of how your office is set up with all those standing desks?

    • UpDesk

      September 20, 2012 at 9:31 am

      @desireegood That’s actually what we suggest! It’s all about finding the perfect balance of sitting AND standing. (cc @ShowMeOKC)

  4. jonbenya

    September 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I’ve been wanting to switch to a standing desk for a long time.  Finding one worth buying seems to be the challenge.

  5. UpDesk

    September 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    @RaymondDuke Why don’t you get one then?

    • RaymondDuke

      September 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      @MyUpDesk still figuring out how I could make my own. I’m on a budget; on both $ and living space.

      • UpDesk

        September 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm

        @RaymondDuke Ah, gotcha! Here are some tips for you in the meantime: https://t.co/3xpIKPDr

        • RaymondDuke

          September 20, 2012 at 7:13 pm

          @MyUpDesk Cool – thanks! Have a great rest of your week UpDesk Twitter persona!

        • UpDesk

          September 20, 2012 at 8:24 pm

          @RaymondDuke Yes, sir! You as well! Hope those tips were helpful to you 😉

  6. Roland Estrada

    September 22, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I love the idea. It becomes problematic if your office has built-ins. It would be nice to find add-on solutions that don’t look clumsy. 

  7. HltyOfficeSpc

    November 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    @hltyofficespc offers a Transition Workstation that works with your existing desk. This product is a great alternative to the D.I.Y desk because it features a slim, portable design that is easy to store when not in use.

  8. NatalieGrigson

    November 23, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Hi,
    Thanks very much for the post. I know there are advantages and disadvantages to standing all day– which you pointed out very succinctly and clearly, thanks! But it is also no good to sit around all day. I’ve read over and over that the best solution is to switch between sitting and standing, moving and staying still throughout the day. Once I found this out, I switched, not to a standing desk, but to a NextDesk. NextDesks are adjustable height desks, totally eco-friendly, easy, beauuuttiful, and even have adjustable keyboard trays (which is apparently much better for your wrist comfort and posture. 4 months after starting to use one, I see that it is!)
    Anyway, I’ve been very happy with my adjustable height desk so far. If you’d like to check them out, here is their website: https://www.nextdesks.com/
    Thanks again for the post!
    Natalie

  9. NatalieGrigson

    December 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Hi Charlene,
    Have you thought about using an adjustable height desk? Don’t get me wrong, some of these standing desks pictured look very nice, but what do you do when you want to take a break for a moment and sit down?
    I use a NextDesk at work– it’s a type of adjustable height desk. I really like it. At first I was sitting most of the day and taking “standing breaks,” but now I hardly ever sit down. When I do want to, though, it is nice to have that option without having to have two desks or a stool (stools usually don’t have the best back support, which kind of defeats the purpose of having an ergonomically friendly standing desk, no?)
    Anyway, I just thought you might want to check them out. They also just came out with a smaller and more affordable model, good for home offices, etc: https://www.nextdesks.com/models
    Cheers!
    Natalie

  10. H_Phillips

    February 10, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    I evolved my standing desk from:

    1) boxes propped up on a desk with keyboard on top.
    2) Encyclopedias placed under a desk to prop it up.
    3) Working on top of a tall dresser.
    4) Finally built a custom desk out of IKEA.

    I can’t say how gratifying it is to have a REAL desk and not working on a stupid collection of boxes or staring at a stack of books on the floor. Do yourself a favor and make the jump…get rid of your sitting desk and buy/build yourself a dedicated standing desk. Here is the one I built. I used about $115 of IKEA stuff and bought a kit online ($79) to extend the VIKA Artur desk to accomodate my height (I’m 6’3″).

  11. Pingback: Stay Healthy and Productive with a Standing Desk - Revedecor

  12. Pingback: OfficeHealth: the crucial app for anyone that sits at a desk all day - AGBeat

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Business News

Leadership versus management: What’s the difference?

(Business News) The two terms, leadership and management, are often used interchangeably, but there are substantial differences; let’s explore them.

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leadership Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Some people use the terms “leader” and “manager” interchangeably, and while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, there is still a debate regarding their similarities or differences.

Is it merely a matter of preference, or are there cut and dry differences that define each term?

Ronald E. Riggio, professor of leadership and organizational psychology at Claremont McKenna College, described what he felt to be the difference between the terms, noting the commonality in the distinction of “leadership” versus “management” was that leaders tend to engage in the “higher” functions of running an organization, while managers handle the more mundane tasks.

However, Riggio believes it is only a matter of semantics because successful and effective leaders and managers must do the same things. They must set the standard for followers and the organization, be willing to motivate and encourage, develop good working relationships with followers, be a positive role model, and motivate their team to achieve goals.

He states that there is a history explaining the difference between the two terms: business schools and “management” departments adopted the term “manager” because the prevailing view was that managers were in charge.

They were still seen as “professional workers with critical roles and responsibilities to help the organization succeed, but leadership was mostly not in the everyday vocabulary of management scholars.”

Leadership on the other hand, derived from organizational psychologists and sociologists who were interested in the various roles across all types of groups.

So, “leader” became the term to define someone who played a key role in “group decision making and setting direction and tone for the group. For psychologists, manager was a profession, not a key role in a group.”

When their research began to merge with business school settings, they brought the term “leadership” with them, but the terms continued to be used to mean different things.

The short answer, according to Riggio is no, not really; simply because leaders and managers need the same skills to be productive and respected.

This editorial was first published here in June of 2014.

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Business News

Does Raising Cane’s have the secret to combatting restaurant labor shortages?

(NEWS) Fried Chicken Franchise, Raising Cane’s, has turned to an unusual source of front-line employees during the labor shortage- Their executives!

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White paper sign with black text reading "Help Wanted."

I wouldn’t call myself a fried chicken aficionado or anything, but since chains are designed to blow up everywhere, I have experienced Raising Cane’s.

I’m pretty sure the Cane’s sauce is just barbecue mixed with ranch, but hey, when you’ve got a good idea, keep with it.

In the further pursuit of good ideas, the company has resorted to an intriguing method of boosting staff in a world where the lowest paid among us are still steadily dying of Covid, and/or choosing to peace out of jobs that they don’t find worth the infection risk.

Via Nation Restaurant News: “This is obviously a very tough time, so it was a joint idea of everybody volunteering together to go out there and be recruiters, fry cooks and cashiers —whatever it takes,” said AJ Kumaran, co-CEO and chief operating officer for the Baton Rouge, La.-based quick-service company, from a restaurant in Las Vegas, where he had deployed himself.”

The goal of this volunteer mission, which involves 250 of the 500 executives deployed working directly in service roles, is to bolster locations until 10,000 new hires can be made in both existing locations and locations planned to open.

It’s obvious that this is a bandaid move – execs exist for good reason, and in terms of sheer numbers (not to mention location and salary changes), this is hardly tenable long-term. But I can say this as someone who’s gone from retail to office, and back (and then forth…and then back again) several times – if this doesn’t keep everyone at the corporate level humble, and much more mindful of employees’ needs, nothing will.

The fast-food world is notorious for wonky schedules only going up a day before the week begins, broken promises on hours (both over and under), horrendous pay, and little to no defense of employee dignity in the face of customers with rank dispositions. With the wave of strikes (Nabisco, John Deere, IATSE) making the news, and lack of hazard pay/brutal physical attacks over mask mandates still very fresh in workers’ minds, smart companies are hipping themselves to the fact that “low level” employee acquisition and retention needs to be much more than the ‘work here or starve’ tactics that have served since the beginning of decades of wage stagnation. The best way for that fact to stay front-of-mind is to go out and live the truths behind it.

In Raising Cane’s case, the company also announced that they’re upping wages at all locations — to the tune of an actually not totally insulting $2 per hour, resulting in a starting wage of $15 and a managerial wage of $18.

Ideally, paying people more to cook, clean, and customer service all in one job will actually attract people back to fast food work. Seriously consider the fact that the people cleaning fast-food toilets are the same people making the food that goes into your mouth. The additional fact is that it’s better for everyone’s health when they’re paid enough to care about what they’re doing and stay healthy themselves.

Of course, one does also need to consider how much inflation has affected the price of goods and housing since the ‘fight for $15’ began almost a decade ago in 2012. Now, raising wages closer to the end point of multiple goods still might not be enough!

AJ Kumaran continued, “The chicken prices are through the roof. Logistics are very hard. Shipping is difficult. Simple things cups and paper napkins — everything is in shortage right now. Some are overseas suppliers and others domestic suppliers. Just in poultry alone, we have taken significant inflation.”

That’s global disruption for ya.

It remains to be seen whether this plucky move can save Raising Cane’s dark meat, but I’m very pro regardless. Send more top-earning employees into the trenches! No more executives with 0 knowledge of how the sausage sandwich gets made.

No more leading from behind.

Why not? What are ya? Chicken?

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Woman working in office with remote team

Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

This story was first published in November 2020.

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