A web designers life – Long hours, desks and health issues

Owning and running a small web design studio can be very hard work at times. I often work very long hours, sitting at my desk for long periods of time absorbed in designs or working on complicated UI problems or bug fixing code. I’ve also been a website designer for far too many years now and although I have the perfect studio in a wonderful location I still lead a very work focused life. Unfortunately, this has taken its toll over the years and back problems have become a regular occurrence.

We’ve been in the current kc web design studio for over 7 years now so it felt like time for a revamp and refit. As part of the studio redesign I looked into sit/stand desks as a way of fighting the constant desk bound nature of working on computer screens. There’s a huge amount of information on the negative health effects of sitting down at work for too long. It seems like sitting is the new smoking!

There are a number of sit/stand desks on the UK market and all of them seems to be at quite a high price of normally over £1000. Fortunately, IKEA have just entered this marketplace with a sit/stand for below £500 that is very, very good.

The IKEA Bekant sit/stand desk can be bought in a number of different configurations and the one we went for was the black corner version. The desk height is adjusted by a small keypad and motors built into the legs of the desk move the desk up and down to your required height. The motors are smooth and quiet and easily move the desk height even with 2 monitors and an array of drives and desk accessories. It looks just like any other desk and you’d never really know to look at it that it moved. Some of the other sit/stand desks look monstrous with motors and leads everywhere. The IKEA desk is simple and elegant and the style fits with other furniture that IKEA supply so we could kit out the whole studio in matching kit.

Everyday life with a sit/stand desk

There are lots of articles out there that talk about the health benefits of sitting down less so I won’t go into that here. I’ve been using the new desk now for about a month and it has completely changed the way I work and my lifestyle in the studio. I rarely sit for longer than a few hours a day now, the rest of the time I’m stood with the desk at chest height. It takes a little brain adjustment and a few days to get used to things but standing now feels much more normal. Sitting down for only a few hours now feels wrong, static and lethargic. Standing at a desk keeps you energised and moving around, your body posture is better and there’s no stress on your back. I’m sure standing all day would eventual have a negative impact on knees or other areas so getting a good balance is key. I tend to sit for a few hours in the morning then stand for the rest of the day, especially in the afternoons when you can have a bit of a lull, and then back to sitting in the evenings when things are quieter in the studio. I’m now a complete convert to standing at work and after a month or so I’m already feeling the health benefits and my back is causing far less problems than it did before. I’d recommend trying a standing desk to anyone that works long hours in the web design world or any office environment where you tend to sit for long hours at a desk.

Paul Ledbrook

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