Alas, the cluttered desk, the symbol of my personal style and intellectual mediocrity, not to mention the brand around which I built this blog, is no more. At least for this week anyway. It may not take long for my new one to become cluttered, but there is a lot less space on this one to do so. This past week, I succumbed to the anti-sitting drumbeats of the workplace wellness crowd, and converted to a standing desk in my office.
I was recently visiting a friend's office, and noticed one of the employees had her desk modified to be a standing desk. I asked her how long she had used it that way and how she liked it. Her answer was three years, and she absolutely loved it. Best thing since sliced bread, apparently. Her enthusiasm resonated with me. While mentally I feel quite young, and my wife says I act like a ten year old, physically, at the age of 54, I am beginning to feel the effects of time, stress and alcohol. Mainly alcohol. Or stress, mostly when I've run out of alcohol. I knew at the moment I was speaking to her that I wanted to try it out for myself.
Fitness for the “office bound” has been a big topic recently. We know that as a nation we are getting older, fatter, weaker, crankier, and tired of stories about Justin Bieber. Personally my own struggles with weight have been well documented. Several years ago I lost about 55 pounds, but about 20 of those pounds have slowly found their way home, hanging around my belt and overlooking the back of my legs. While I am still 30 plus pounds under my peak weight, it continues to be an endless struggle. Anyone who doubts I struggle with my weight should see me trying to get off the couch.
My blood pressure has also become a concern. Long in the borderline territory, it recently began ringing the bell in the 160 something over 90 something range. People, like my annoying namby pamby doctor, seem to think that is a problem. The fact that I don't believe in solving every medical issue with a pill also seems to confound these blood pressure pansies. Personally I view my increased blood pressure as an investment in my poor lifestyle choices. When it gets to 200, I'll sell.
In all seriousness, of course, I want to find a way to address these concerns, and increasing my physical activity in the place I spend many of my waking hours seems to make the most sense. There is a lot of data to back that decision up.
There are now ample studies to show that sitting is simply not good for us. According to a recent story in the LA Times, “New research that distills the findings of 47 studies concludes that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death.” It goes on to tell us, “Even for those of us who meet recommended daily levels of exercise, sitting for long periods of time boosts our likelihood of declining health.” Imagine that; 47 studies showing that sitting kills. Even though my new standing desk was ordered before I read that article, I just couldn't take that kind of news sitting down.
Available research shows that those who are sedentary over long hours are 90% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Long hours of sitting increase the likelihood of dying from cardiovascular disease by about 18% and the risk of some cancers increases between 13% and 16%. Studies have shown “even higher rates of breast, colon, colorectal, endometrial and endothelial ovarian cancer among those who logged long hours in a chair.”
In the face of all this information, a standing desk just made too much sense. I researched them fairly extensively, and settled on one from an online store. While most standing desks are very expensive, and I am half Scottish, this presented a bit of a problem. The one I found, however, is very well constructed and is adjustable (hand crank, not electric. Remember the Scotsman in me). It can be either a standing or sitting desk, and was about $320 before tax and shipping. I put it into service one week ago, and have stood at it for all but about 2 hours in the office since.
Bob's new desk allows him to perform a stand up job
I realize that it will be several weeks before this becomes comfortable for me, and probably longer to start feeling any significant benefit. I certainly expect to see positive results, which makes the inability to feel my feet acceptable at the moment. I will keep you posted as to how this entire experiment plays out.
There was always rumored to be a desk in here somewhere
Plus, this new desk, being about half the surface area as its famously cluttered predecessor, gives me the opportunity to completely remake my office. My office is exceptionally modest, probably smaller than some readers walk in closets (Remember, Scotsman). Now that I think of it, it's smaller than my walk in closet. Having the reduced area desk will allow me to add a table, and somewhat ironically, chairs, so that visitors may relax and partake of my somewhat awkward hospitality. Unless they are claustrophobic, at which case I'll meet them in the conference room.
Either way these are improvements for which I am willing to take a stand.
A couple people in my office are very intrigued with this concept, and have indicated an interest in having one of these desks as well. Despite my inner Scotsman, I have committed to buying one for whoever chooses to have it. As an employer I believe I will see benefits in that arrangement, since studies pretty clearly show it will provide a healthier employee as a result.
Finally, for those of you who are wondering, I have no plans to rebrand this blog. This realm has always been, and forever shall be, Bob's Cluttered Desk. Besides, you need to give me time. This new desk may be much smaller, but you'll be surprised with what I will eventually be able to stack upon it.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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Bob is an accomplished speaker for the workers' compensation industry. He is available for conferences, corporate events, children's birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs. You may access his Speakers Brief here.