If you follow the blog or my tweets you’ll know that, a few months ago, I changed jobs and careers within the library world. After working some 17 years in the Circulation world, I became a library web guy, specifically a Web Content Manager. I love this job. It’s techy, it’s geeky, it’s… librarian-y? I think that’s a word? It is now. Anyway, I’m able to stretch my tools, talents, and abilities to fulfill new things for the library and I’ve learned so much in the last few months. However, there was a problem, and it was kind of a big one.
See, when you’re a Circ Guy, working the front desk and the back areas, you’re up and down. Moving and going and coming and shifting and rarely sitting for long periods of time. Even though the front desk at the branch was a sit down desk, I was always up and running about showing people where things were and how to do stuff.
Then I get here, and wind up sitting for 8 – 10 hours per day.
My back, which is notoriously screwed up, didn’t like that one bit.
I toughed it out as long as I could and then I finally had to do something about it. A couple of nights, after work, I went home in absolute agony. Something had to give, indeed something was giving and, unfortunately, it was my back. So I did some research and learned a bit more about standing desks. I’d heard of these before and, in a former gig, worked a Circ desk that was completely standing. After looking into the benefits, I decided to try it. However, I didn’t want to just ask my job to pony up a lot of money to get one for me, especially when I wasn’t sure if I’d like it. So with some stuff I had lying around, I converted my existing desk to a standing desk. As you can see from the picture on the left, it looked incredibly ghetto.
Now then, new equipment like desks aren’t cheap. If I liked this, I was going to ask for a standing desk. If not, I was going to bag it and figure out something else. As it happens, I loved it. Within a couple of days the tension in my back eased up. I had to move. I had to shift. If things were uncomfortable, I shifted and things realigned and worked out. My back stopped hurting all-together within a week. (Other than the standard residual pain that is always there. Protip: Am I conscious? Yes? Then my back hurts.) I was going to put in for something when the guy in charge of our facilities around here saw it, laughed, and said “Oh that crap has got to go! Let’s get you a standing desk.” So I didn’t even have to ask, they went to work on it for me. (By the way, I work in an awesome library system.) They checked options and, as things go, there was a conversion kit to take my current work surface and make it an adjustable standing desk. So they ordered it.
Monday morning, I went to teach a class on eReaders at one of the branches. When I got back to my pod, this was waiting for me:
This thing is six shades of superb. It’s adjustable, you can barely see the black release button underneath the left side of it. So if I want to sit, I can. It used my existing desk, so I kept my same workspace and it stayed the same size. They mounted the monitor on a swivel arm so I can put that thing wherever I want it. I’ve got all the room in the world for two laptops, a tablet, external keyboard and mouse, notepad, and anything else I need. It is, without doubt, the best desk I’ve ever worked upon.
Now then, the adjustment bit on the desk. Seriously, all I’ve ever done is raise it a little higher or lower. My other two work surfaces remain at the same level so, if I need to sit down, I sit there. The standing desk is my main work surface and it remains in the standing position. The only time I ever sit down is when I’m reading something. 99% of my normally 10 hour day is spent standing, and I love it. The chair you see on the front left of the picture? That’s where it stays almost all day.
I’m not just a standing desk convert, I’m becoming an evangelist. My back has seriously improved in the few weeks that I’ve had a standing desk in place and, after the last few days of using the real deal, I’m never going back. Heck, I’m trying to figure out how to get something like this set up at home. If you’re a librarian, working a desk, and your back hurts, you need to try this. Give it a shot. You don’t have to go full standing all day like I’ve done, but I bet you can convert your desk into a standing desk with only a few things. Try it, I think you’re going to find it to be worklife-changing if not life-changing. If you do like it, check with your managers to see what you need to do to get a real standing desk. Chances are, there’s money somewhere to do that because of ergonomics advances within government organizations. They’ve realized that how you work is just as important as what you’re working on.
People may stare, they may make off-handed comments, and they may even mock the idea. Let me say with all honesty “to hell with those people.” They don’t have to work at your desk and they certainly can’t share the pain you might be feeling. The long-time mantra of the workplace has been “Work smarter not harder,” so let me tell you this:
Standing desks are pretty damn smart.