Taking a Stand

How many times have you had someone email you, or tweet, one of those “Did you know…?” images that are intended to make you take a stand against something or make some sort of positive change in the world? For example, they might tell you about what it takes to create a bottle of water or how to change your life for the better.

Most people read, agree with others and say, “Wow! That’s unbelievable…that’s something that everyone should be doing and thinking about!” They might even go so far as to print it out and hang it on their door or put it on the lunch table to encourage others to read it and become aware. I’m sure some of you have even done it recently.

But how many of you actually make a change, or do something about what you’ve read? For me, I almost never do anything about it because I’m one of those that print it out and hang it on my door as if it’ll inspire me to change my life.

A few days ago, I was about to print out another called “Sitting is Killing You.” But I didn’t. For some reason it struck me as something I really do need to try. Yesterday, I decided to make a change. I reconfigured part of my desk by raising it up to standing level so that I would be forced to work by standing the entire day. If I was going to make a change then I needed to be serious about it.

Surprisingly, my first day went pretty well and now I’m on day two. Here’s a few things I’ve already discovered in just the first day:

  1. I had my desk way too low when I first raised it up. My wrists weren’t too happy with me at the end of the day. I’ve raised it higher this morning.
  2. I’m actually using the keyboard correctly for the first time. My wrists have been elevated and not resting on the table.
  3. I work better standing. I work faster standing. I feel more productive. When I’m sitting down, I have the urge to slouch a bit which makes me feel less productive. No more!
  4. The souls of my feet hurt. This can easily be fixed by getting a pad to stand on, or perhaps I should be gellin’.
  5. Meetings are quickly becoming my best friend—they allow me to sit down.
  6. Need to stop locking my knees. Pretty typically habit when you’re standing in a line waiting for something and you’re becoming impatient. However, standing for 8 hours a day is much different than a line.
  7. People around me initially look at me in confusion, but once I explain why I’m doing it, they quickly seem to realize the benefit. Some have even told others and they’re impressed that I’m willing to try it out. That’s a good feeling.
  8. After standing for two days, I realize now how most of my career I’ve been low-ridin’ at the desk.

I’m not sure what will come of this experiment—will my legs hate me; will I lose a few extra pounds; will I do it permanently and give away my chair?! Whatever happens, I’m glad that I’ve finally decided to take a stand for something.

Here’s another GovLoop post with a lot of great discussion related to standing and working.

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Jeff Ribeira

Bravo Scott for taking the initiative! Kind of makes me wish my desk at work were adjustable too. Great insights!

Scott Horvath

Thanks a lot Jeff. Yeah I was a little lucky that I could easily adjust my desk. Sometimes it pays to have the cubicle stuff as your desk and not the U.S.S. Bulky Wood desk.

Charles A. Ray

This is a great post. Unfortunately, getting the bureaucracy to recognize that we’re all unique individuals who would work better if we could adapt our environment to our uniqueness is an uphill battle. Even being the person in charge, I find that I get strange looks when I make adjustments in my office that accomodate the fact that I can’t sit in one place for longer than an hour, and Iike to have whatever I’m working on at hand, even if it means using the floor around my chair as a temporary work surface.

Scott Horvath

Charles: Thanks for commenting. I agree that many people would more productive if they could setup their office environment to be more compatible with their uniqueness. I think that might be the issue for many organizations though because what works for you, or me, may not work for the next person that uses your office. In my previous job, I worked in a space where our team (five people) sat together in the same area. We had knee walls around our desks…that was our area of privacy. All five of us loved it. We were extremely productive because we could easily work together on solving any problem that any of us experienced.

For some that setup wouldn’t work. For others, there might be physically limitations that require a person to work in a unique setup. But it is a challenge in some organizations to have the benefit of adapting one’s office to their uniqueness be seen by others.

Stephen Peteritas

Jeff speak now if you want an adjustable desk in the new office but be forewarned I will laugh at you while I sit to my slow death. Seriously though I have a buddy that works completely standing up even though 90% of his work is computer desk work. If you really are trying to make a health difference with the standing up you might as well go all out… sketchers shape ups!

Amanda Rhea

I’m convinced. I’m going to work standing up today, even if I have to sit my keyboard and monitor on stacks of phone books (yes, we still have those in our office). I just forwarded that great post with the scary graphics to everyone in my department. Like you said was true with you, it’s the second or third article about how sitting shortens your life expectancy that I’ve shared with my office mates. To their benefit, the staff in Accounting now have a “parade” around the building a couple of times a day to force everyone away from their desks for five minutes, but I have yet to take any concrete action myself.

Allison Merkley

Way to go! Unfortuately I don’t have a desk where I can mod it for standing, but I did send the article to everyone at the office. The result was many of my co-workers have pledged us to doing walking meetings…just take a turn in the building or two as we discuss issues. Many of us are also working to take mini breaks, walking instead of calling each other for answers, etc.

We may not have a standing desk location, but hopefully the little changes will help out.

Mie Miller

Here my thoughts on “thinking about doing something” versus “actually taking actions” –

Recently, I have read a few books about neurology. The books helped me better understand how my brain functions and what triggers me to act. We often hear about the left brain versus the right brain; one is the logical side, and the other is the creative side. My logical side first does the thinking and planning to come up with all the things that I think I SHOULD do. However, at the end of the day, if my emotional/creative side (my heart) does not WANT to do these things, I won’t act. On the same token, when my heart wants something, no one can stop me; I have the energy and motivations to overcome all obstacles and make things happen. I am yet to figure out what triggers my heart to “want” something. Once I figure that out, I will be able to accomplish so much more in life!

Scott Horvath

Thanks everyone for those great comments to my post. I definitely appreciate all the interaction. To the person who asked a question about the varicose veins… the problem would be the same if you were sitting down all day long. Either way you have to exercise your legs, or exercise your feet, or your ankles, or whatever in order to keep the circulation flowing.

This is definitely an experiment in the works and I am hoping to learn more about finding ways of improving my ability to stand, or sit…whichever…I ultimately decide to do on a permanent basis.

Pam Broviak


All this talk about standing while working makes me think of the days when we drew plans on drafting boards. We had stools, but many times it was uncomfortable drawing while sitting on the stool – you just couldn’t get a good angle to work. Particularly because you needed to move around the board. So many times we spent most of the day standing. One tip I found doing that is it helps if you have a ledge a few inches up to put one foot on (most drafting desks have this feature) – I think it takes the pressure off a little.

Scott Horvath

I did just happen to see a piece by Mashable which listed 5 alternatives to the work chair. One in particular caught my attention, although I have no idea the cost: http://mashable.com/2011/05/14/office-chair-alternatives/#141413-Stand-Up-Stools. This one appears says it can extend to the height that you want whether you’re sitting or standing, and that it allows for the freedom to move and lean forward. This might be one potential solution that can help.