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Cutting Edge: Sit/Stand Desks

Cutting Edge: Sit/Stand Desks
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photo: courtesy of Standbyyourdesk.com

BY MARY JANE HORTON

I came upon the concept of the sit/stand desk out of necessity. I hurt my shoulder, badly, in my Pilates class. And then a bout of back pain followed. Then I realized it was all exacerbated by years of bad ergonomics at my work desk. The desk was too high (I’m short), and I couldn’t get my chair high enough to have my arms straight – which is how they are supposed to be.

So I researched, researched and researched new working arrangements. The science regarding sit/stand desks – they go up and down with the touch of a lever or button – was certainly compelling. For instance, in a Stanford University study of back pain, workers who used sit-stand desks were 78 percent more likely to report a pain-free day than those who used regular wrokstations. Other studies point to cardiovascular and even psychological benefits of a standing desk. I was sold. But that brought me to the questions of which one.
The price range and list of options is endless. There are low-end desks that use a weighted system – not electricity – to go up and down, then there are mid-range ones that use electricity, and then the high and even higher range with lots of bells and whistles. Of the good solid desks, the price range was about $700 to $3000. I relied heavily on people who had tested several models and wrote about it – from websites like Forbes.com and Wirecutter.com, a tech site. And here are the desks that made my list.

The Jarvis Bamboo Adjustable Height Desk, http://www.ergodepot.com/Jarvis_Desk_Bamboo_p/jrv-b.htm. At a base price tag of $750 (on sale now for $499), and the options of lots of add-ons, such as a cut-out style, that hugs your body and electrical outlets on the desks, this was actually my first choice. Once I configured the desk I wanted, it came in at around $1,300 – which was the lower end of what I found – and I was ready to go. But – and for me this was a big but – they had no one in Los Angeles who could put the desk together. They tell you to go to Task Rabbit, a site where you can find people to do tasks such as this. I have a handy man. But to me this whole concept seemed risky – you buy the desk and get a third person to put it together and then if something goes wrong the company doesn’t stand by it. To be fair, all the desks are returnable, but, still, I didn’t want to take a chance.

Next, was actually the Next Desk, http://www.nextdesks.com/, which I read was the Mac of standing desks. With its sleek design and great materials, I was sold. I opted for the mid-range “Terra” model which – when configured for me – came in at around $1,800 (a little higher than the first but still in my budget). I called – they have someone who delivers and puts together the desk – so I ordered and waited. It typically takes several weeks or more to get these desks because they are individually made. Finally the day, and the desk arrived. Well part of a desk that it. The packages had been separated and the wooden top was sitting at a loading dock somewhere between California (where I live) and Texas. Back it went – I wasn’t willing to wait to see how and when the rest might arrive. I got my money back and went back to the drawing board.

The Uplift, by Human Solutions, http://www.thehumansolution.com/adjustable-height-desks.html, seems like another great pick. Starting at $599, even with all of the add-ons, my configured choice came to around $1,200. I called, again, about the building of it. And again, they had no one in Los Angeles. Now, I know Los Angeles isn’t New York, but it is a major metropolitan area, and certainly it couldn’t be hard for the company to find people to put the desks together so that the customer – me! – wasn’t responsible, but no.

Onward and upward (pun intended). I decided that it would be easier if I could buy a desk from someone locally so that I could actually see the desk and have a place to go and complain if anything went wrong. So, I headed to our local Relax the Back store, http://www.relaxtheback.com/. They had a couple of options – The Jesper Standing Desk, starting at $399, just didn’t seem substantial enough, the beautiful Stir Kinetic Desk was amazingly beautiful, which it should be with a starting price of $2,990, but above my price range. Their own Electric Standing Desk, starting at $1,995, just didn’t appeal to me – it had a bulky and intricate wooden piece in the back and I preferred a sleeker design.

So I went to the mecca of all things modern, Design Within Reach, to check out the sit/stand desk from renowned office furniture designer, Herman Miller (of Aeron Chair fame). The Renew Sit-to-Stand Table, http://www.hermanmiller.com/products/tables/sit-to-stand-tables/renew-sit-to-stand-tables.html, really fit the bill. It is beautifully designed, simple, and elegant. With the price tag of $1,500, and about $2,000 fully configured, it was at the high end of my budget. But, alas, they were having a sale for 15 percent off. DWR is also well known for their great delivery and assembly. I was almost sold, but decided to do a bit more research. I went to the Herman Miller site and saw that other vendors sell the same desk. I found one – Smart Furniture, http://www.smartfurniture.com/, a brick and mortar store in Tennessee, that had a lower price, free delivery and assembly, and would even take it back if it didn’t work out (DWR wouldn’t because it was a special order). Even though I wanted to buy locally, I has several food calls with the people at Smart Furniture, and I felt secure, Sold! Even though I had to wait for about two months, the research, false starts, and frustration was well worth it. I am standing here happily typing at my Renew desk. I love it – and so do my shoulder and back!

 

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