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How to Select the Best Height Adjustable Desk

Research shows that about 50 to 70 percent of people sit for at least six hours every day. This sedentary lifestyle is often discouraged because it can lead to health problems such as high blood sugar, increased blood pressure; increase the risk of developing cancer, increased chance of cardiovascular diseases, and more. One study even claims that this inactive lifestyle can lead to death.

Research by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that physical inactivity ranks as the fourth leading cause of death in the world.

Think of all the time you spend sitting. How many hours does that translate to?

In addition to the time you spend sitting in the office, don’t forget to factor in the time you spend sitting while driving, sitting while watching TV, and sitting while eating.

Most professional physicians will advise you to take a break from work, stand and walk for a while so your blood can circulate well.

Makes a lot of sense, right?

One of the challenges with this approach, however, is that you may end up taking too much time off work, thus leading to overtime problems and delays.

The best solution is to use a height adjustable desk. It allows you to switch between standing and sitting positions throughout your workday. The result is health benefits such as increased blood circulation, increased productivity, and improved health and wellbeing.

A 2013 study discovered that standing stimulates approximately ten heartbeats per minute, which is equivalent to an extra 50 calories burnt every hour. With a height adjustable desk, you won’t have to complain about numbing, muscle cramps, and back pain anymore. Instead, you will gain more core strength and a better posture. Martyn R.Shorten, Ph.D, reports that in a study of 39 participants using Protalus shoe inserts, results showed that there was improved alignment of the body, which is why shoe insoles are greatly recommended for those who opt for standing desk options.

Because standing all day is as bad as sitting all day, a regular stand up desk is not the best solution. You need a height adjustable desk to help you switch between these two positions every now and then. That way, you will stay rejuvenated and get more work done.

Height adjustable desks come in different shapes and sizes, are priced differently, and built with some unique specific features. For this reason, selecting the best product becomes a challenging task. This article aims to help you select the best height adjustable desk that meets your expectations and satisfies your needs.

But before we delve into the selection process, let’s first learn a bit more about height adjustable desks.

Categories of height adjustable desks

These desks are available in electronically-operated, gas-assisted, and manual models. Usually, the option you choose determines the price.

  • Electric height adjustable desks

These are the most well-rounded and popular desks. Just with the press of a button, you are able to switch from sitting to standing in about 10 to 20 seconds.

Although electric height adjustable desks are often the most expensive option, they are large enough to accommodate most of your accessories and equipment. You can, therefore, move your stuff up and down together.

Even though these desks are exceptionally convenient, bear in mind that to operate them, you’ll need access to power. Moreover, since most electrically operated components are prone to breakdowns, it’s essential to maintain the desk well to minimize breakdown of components.

  • Manual crank height adjustable desks

With manual cranks sit-stand desks, you have to adjust the desk manually to achieve your desired height. It’s an excellent option for people who are concerned about electrical components breaking down frequently, or people who don’t have access to a power source in their workspace.

Crank adjustable desks offer you plenty of room to work, and since the entire desk surface moves up and down, all the contents of your desk move with it as well.

The desks also feature heavy lifting capacities, which means you can keep all kinds of equipment within arm’s reach.

One thing you have to keep in mind with crank sit-stand desks is that you will need to put in a lot of effort to operate them. For every 1” of height adjustment, the desk will need about 6 to 8 cranks. Also, for you to completely switch from a sitting to standing position, the desk will require approximately 10” to 14” of height adjustment.

  • Gas lift height adjustable desks

Also known as laptop desks, gas lift adjustable height desks are an excellent option if you have limited space and money. Since they are small in size, you can move them around easily. Also, if you use casters, you can convert them into a mobile workstation.

Gas lift height adjustable desks are commonly used in manufacturing facilities, hospitals, and apartments. Their small size, however, limits them from having a large work surface. They have a much lower lifting capacity compared to crank and electric desks.

Factors to consider when choosing a height adjustable desk

When selecting a height adjustable desk, it’s essential to make sure you consider all factors and critically evaluate how it will benefit you or your employees. Here are a few factors you should consider when selecting a height adjustable desk:

  1. Height range

The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) recommends an optimal range of about 22.6” to 48.7”. However, the height range usually depends on the needs and height of the person using the desk. Obviously, a shorter person won’t adjust the desk to the same height a taller person.

If you’re looking to set up a shared height adjustable workstation, it’s advisable to choose a desk with a large height range.

The desk should accommodate the person using it while in a fully standing position and a fully seated position. Make sure to consider factors such as the height of the keyboard surface on top of the desk or keyboard tray attached below the desk, thickness of floor mats, shoe height, or any other factor that affects the height range.

If you are using the desk alone:

  • Sit on your chair, place your feet flat on the floor, let your upper arms rest at your sides, and bend your elbow as if you’re typing. Make sure you are comfortable and don’t lean forward. Now measure the distance from the bottom of your elbow to the floor. Always ensure your keyboard height stays around that height or below.
  • Now take the same measurement while standing up. If you plan on using a footrest or an anti-fatigue floor mat, be sure to consider that height as well.
  • Choose a desk that you can adjust to at least as high as your standing height requirement and at least as low as your sitting height requirement.
  • If you’re a shorter individual and you can’t find a desk that adjusts low enough to accommodate your height requirements, consider incorporating an adjustable height keyboard tray or a footrest.
  • You may also consider incorporating casters to your desk to develop a flexible work environment. Make sure to consider the caster height when determining the final height adjustment range.

If the desk is to be shared by two or more people:

  • Repeat the procedure described above (for a single user), but do it for all users (especially the tallest and shortest users).
  • Choose a desk that can be adjusted to as low as the shortest sitting height requirement and at least as high as the tallest standing height requirement.
  • If the desk can’t accommodate the shortest user, try adding an adjustable height keyboard tray or a footrest to the workstation.

If the desk is to be used in a common area:

In such a case, you have to consider that the desk may be used by different people working different shifts or carrying out different tasks. These workers may come and go so you can’t be sure about how tall or short they are, or the kind of work they do. For this reason, you will need to consider the greatest height adjustment range you can find.

Furthermore, because populations vary in height from region to region, country to country, it’s essential that your selection fits your region’s population characteristics.

  • Choose a desk that can be adjusted high enough to cater for a 95th percentile height male and low enough to cater for a fifth percentile height female.
  • If you are unable to find a desk that meets these adjustment range guidelines, go for a desk that adjusts to a standing height of about 50” for taller users. Also, incorporate a height adjustable tray or a footrest for shorter sitting users.
  • You can add casters if you’d like to create a flexible office environment, taking into consideration the additional height they add to the desk.
  1. Weight

Every height adjustable desk comes with its own specific weight restrictions. You should never go above this weight because it might affect the functionality of the desk, especially the mechanism responsible for height adjustment. Always make sure your equipment doesn’t weigh more than the desk can handle.

For example, if the desk can only handle 250 lbs. and your equipment weighs 300 lbs., the risk of breakdown increases tremendously. If you are the business owner or operations manager, inform other employees about these weight limits as well.

  1. Depth

A 30” depth is the recommended minimum. The depth takes into account the fact that employees will wish to spread out their work. If you don’t consider this an issue, you can opt for smaller footprints. Moreover, keep in mind that there exists multiple options for the configuration of the work surface.

Nevertheless, any depth less than 30” usually means the monitor is positioned much closer to the user. Such heights may interfere with visual capabilities and preferences, thereby encouraging eyestrain or discomfort and reducing visual performance.

  1. Ease of movement

As mentioned above, there are several ways of raising or lowering height adjustable desks, from electric lifts to pneumatic lifts to hand cranks.

The most suitable option is one that is the most efficient, quiet, and easy to use. Usually, hand cranks are more difficult to control compared to electric and pneumatic lifts. However, electric lifts are more prone to component breakdown.

Select a desk that moves easily. You don’t want to spend too much time when switching between sitting and standing positions.

  1. Noise

Is the height adjustment mechanism disruptive and loud? Or is it unobstructed?

Noisy height adjustable desk is often not the most ideal because they are likely to disrupt other employees.

Autonomous product, the SmartDesk 2 is designed to operate smoothly but quickly, so you don’t interrupt your colleagues. Consequently, you are also able to seamlessly transition from sitting to standing throughout your workday, thus encouraging healthy blood circulation and focus.

How To Increase Productivity and Creativity in Office Environment

The desk also has a 300 lb. lifting capacity and an XL 71” top to accommodate as many of your equipment as possible.

  1. Functionality

Taking into consideration whether the desk can accommodate tool rails, privacy screens, lighting, and more impacts functionality and usability.

It’s also essential to determine whether the desk’s design fits into the interior design of your office environment.

  1. Programmability

A good height adjustable desk should be simple to program to different settings. This makes it easy to set the correct ergonomics each time.

  1. Leg fatigue

One of the most common complaints from workers using height adjustable desks is the fatigue that comes with standing. Some of the ways to combat this include incorporating anti-fatigue mats and footrests, wearing supportive shoes, including a gel mat, and encouraging your employees to slowly develop tolerance by incrementally increasing their standing time.

  1. Power

Electric height adjustable desks require power to operate. For this reason, make sure you have access to power in your workspace before you purchase the desk.

  1. Speed

They say time is money. The same applies for height adjustable desks as well. A good desk allows you to raise and lower it swiftly. Certainly, the faster the desk’s speed, the higher the frequency with which people will adjust their workstations throughout their workday.

Final thoughts

Since an adjustable desk is a great investment, it’s only fair that it serves you well. And what determines how the desk operates is its features. The above-mentioned factors will help you evaluate the features of the desk, and, hopefully, help you land a desk that fits perfectly into your office work environment.

After working as digital marketing consultant for 4 years Deepak decided to leave and start his own Business. To know more about Deepak, find him on Facebook, LinkedIn now.


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