Optimize health and flourishing at work: by mixing standing, sitting (and siestas)


Whether you work 40 or 80 hour weeks, have a startup or big company budget, every worker should have the flexibility to alternate between sitting and standing while working. I have suffered lower back pains from sitting down for too long at a desk but I also do not have the energy to stand all day. Offices do not need to invest hundreds of dollars on motorized or high-end adjustable standing desks, there is a simple and convenient solution for less than a hundred that can be shared among co-workers and involves minimal space and modification to existing offices. Aside from room for the table and standing, there are really just two design constraints: both the height of the screen and the desk need to be adjustable:

There is now a laptop stand (http://www.actto.com/shop/product_detail.asp?cate=&code=NBS-07) for about 50 USD with adjustable angle and height to allow one to line up the top half of a standard laptop screen with your eye-level.  A bar or laptop table (movable and adjustable height lap top tables are more compact, mobile and cheap) just needs to match your elbow height (mine is 105cm). (If the adjustable table is too short, you can buy a drawer from MUJI to raise its height.) It does not need to be big and can even be shared between co-workers if laptops are being used. Together the adjustable table and stand will allow you to effectively replicate the idealized effect of more complicated, fixed, cumbersome and expensive standing desk setups. I myself prefer alternating between sitting down and standing up for about an hour each while occasionally taking fruit and toilet breaks. Being able to socialize with colleagues across the table is just another added bonus. If navigating the Korean website was too much for you like it was for me, you can also get it from this HK company: http://www.ergoshopping.com.hk/products/lsz-laptop-stand

And if your legs start to ache after standing for an hour, you can easily take the laptop (if equipped with a USB 3.0) and plug it into this new adapter from Dell (http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=bsd&cs=04&sku=452-BBZI) which will allow you to connect your laptop to dual external screens (although you may need monitor raisers to get them to the right level too). Finally, a wireless USB keyboard and mouse will allow you to switch seamlessly from the standing and sitting desks.


Now unto the more controversial siestas/breaks in prone and suppine positions. Many people in Mediterranean and Sinic cultures have post-lunch time naps although I may be offending many traditional corporations by suggesting that it is optimal to lie down for 20 minutes (sleeping for longer leads to sleep inertia and you don't need to sleep or even close your eyes, I find that even reading on a bean bag helps with blood flow and reading helps reduce stress among other benefits). The ideal is that by mixing three different working positions together your body does not become rigidly fixed into one position, reducing the hours we need to spend at yoga and pilates class to restore our agility. Standing also burns more calories and exercises muscles more than sitting down.

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