It’s common knowledge that sitting is “the new smoking” with many of us averaging over 9 hours a day sitting at a desk. In fact, according to, “85% of workers experience discomfort on the job” especially in situations where there are few options available for postural change during the day. It’s no wonder then, that sit-stand desks (or stand-up desks or sit-to-stand desks or height adjustable desks) are becoming increasingly popular.

But questions abound such as; Are height adjustable desks right for me? How do you evaluate a height adjustable desk? What are economical options for rolling out sit-stand options at the office? And how can I ensure my ROI on stand-up desks and ensure they are being used?

First off, let’s be clear, standing all day can be as harmful as sitting all day. The best option is to change postures throughout the day, moving often from sitting to standing and even perching at a stool height counter. The ideal candidate for a sit-stand desk is generally someone who is tied to a computer or phone at a desk and cannot easily get up and change postures by moving to another place within the office.

In addition, there are different options for rolling out sit-stand desks at the office. You could of course go all out (if you have the means) and give everyone a height adjustable desk, but often this is not practical. A very practical option is setting up shared sit-stand workstations throughout the office for people to use as needed. Lastly, many companies are saving the option to have a stand-up desk for people who have medical issues that require them.

Regardless, when choosing an adjustable height desk, it’s important to ensure that you consider all the options and thoughtfully evaluate how your people will use them. That way you can ensure they get used! Here are 10 things to consider when choosing a height adjustable desk.

Height range. BIFMA suggests an optimal range being 22.6″ to 48.7″ but it will depend upon the height and needs of the individual using the desk. If people are sharing the sit-stand desk than best to find a desk with a large range. For info on measuring for a sit-stand desk click here.

Depth. A 30″ depth is advisable as a minimum but this is taking into consideration that people will want to spread out their work. If that’s not an issue you can look at smaller footprints. In addition, bear in mind there are often multiple options for the shape of the work surface.

Noise. Is the mechanism loud and disruptive or is it unobtrusive? When sit-stand desks are noisy they are often not utilized for fear of disturbing collegues.

Ease of movement. There are numerous ways to raise and lower desks, from hand cranks to electric or pneumatic lifts. The latter two being the most quiet, efficient and easy to use.

Speed. How quickly does it raise/lower. Obviously, the quicker the speed, the more often people will adjust their worksurfaces throughout the day.

Power. Make sure if you choose a height adjustable desk that requires power that you have easy access to electricity.

Leg fatigue. One common complaint from people using sit-stand desks is that they get tired standing. Some strategies include; wearing supportive shoes, adding a riser to support one foot while standing, adding a gel mat and encouraging people to slowly build up their tolerance by incrementally adding to the time they stand.

Weight. Each desk has its own weight restrictions, make sure the desk can handle your equipment.

Programability. Some desks are easily programmed to different settings making them super easy to set the proper ergonomics every time.

Functionality. Factoring in whether the aesthetic fit into your office environment as well as considering whether the desk can accommodate privacy screens, lighting or tool rails all will impact usability

And of course lastly you have to consider pricing which can vary dramatically within the stand up desk category. The best course of action is balance functionality using the above factors with your office roll out strategy.

Steelcase manufactures a variety of options for today’s modern office taking into consideration different options balanced with price point. There’s never been a better time to consider a sit-stand desk for your office environment. There’s a lot of choice in the market right now and with the right evaluation criteria you can make an informed decision!

Airtouch height adjustable desk

Light touch with no electrical required, 26″ – 43″ range, 150 lbs weight limit

Ology sit to stand desk

Programmable settings, 22.6″ – 48.7″ range, supports space division, lighting and tool rails, available with an antimicrobial surfaceSeries 5 sit-stand desk

Series 5
Electric with 1.7″ per sec. speed, 25.5″ – 52″ range, weight limit of 220 lbs