For well over a year now, I’ve been working at a standup desk after trying sitting on a ball or at a knee chair at various points of my career. At this point, I have had enough chatter and questions floating around this topic that I figured it qualified for a full blog post.
While different seating arrangements may not be ideal for everyone or even available options, I wanted to share my journey so that readers understand why I now work standing up.
How it began
After severe rotational whiplash from playing volleyball many years ago (picture someone doing the Superman while going to strike the ball/ for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction sort of thing), I’ve gone down the path of taking my spinal health very seriously including chiropractic care, lots of yoga, massage therapy and even electrical therapy.
I’m a fairly active person, so much of this required me to maintain a high level of performance. But if you know about what it takes to keep your nerves from being on fire from the top of your skull down to your fingers and toes or stopping terrible spasms that put you down for a few days, you have felt my pain…literally.
At this point, it has been years since that level of inconvenience dogged me and I attribute that fact to finding the sweet spot between chiropractic and better habits that keep my body in balance.
A big part of that balance is standing.
Solving difficult technical problems requires a level of concentration that would sometimes leave me in the worst sitting positions. I have good posture when I sit, but when I have been in a cave of focus that went for an extended period of time, I realized all I needed was some salt sprinkled on me to resemble a pretzel.
It became obvious that I tend to be more productive when standing while working, or truly free to move around in general. In the past when I was remote and had complex discussions on the phone, observers would see me wandering around the house or pacing up and down a hallway. I see my man Bobby Condon with his mobile handset all the time, reminding the world how we provide value all while marching around outside the office. Something about that freedom fuels focus, I think. A lot of it boils down to type of people we are and what style fits us best.
I think that the “movement toward movement” has begun and someday it won’t be so different to see someone standing at a workbench than it is to see them sitting. I also found I’m not the only one here that stands as when CEO Jeremy has office hours, he’s usually at his stand-up desk in his office.
I think I’m healthier when I stand because I maintain better posture, a stronger core and a higher energy level.
Be warned that the first few weeks I committed to standing, I found that my shins and calves were clearly fatigued. It reminded me of the feeling that I experienced when going for a very long hike without building up to it. My experience and the wisdom of several doctors told me that having a sturdy tall chair or the means to lower your workbench makes a lot of sense, especially in the beginning.
There are plenty of options out there for finding a sturdy stand-up and the picture above shows my Dyn workbench: a cheapo media center that happens to fit my height requirements very well. I do want to plug a great post by Eli Weinstock-Herman (the first article I found which took a very practical approach to seeing if standing was a good fit for him) and another post at osXDaily that showcases a completely fresh approach to a workbench. I love it and I hope my experiences can be a starting point for more great ideas like it.
So while you’re busy scaling your business, please always consider scaling your health. I think they go hand in hand. Happy scaling (and standing).
Tim Chadwick is a Database Alchemist for Dyn, the world leader in Internet Performance Solutions that delivers traffic management, message management, and performance assurance. Follow on Twitter at @DynData and @Dyn.