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What's it like to have a sit-stand desk? One office worker reviews the DeskRite 500

Scandinavia. The happiest region in the world, the home of flat-pack furniture, pickled herring and the six-hour working day.

Scandinavia

It’s also the world’s biggest adopter of the sit-stand desk — a workstation that can be adjusted, as the name suggests, from sitting to standing height.

While most British office workers spend the majority of their working days shackled to their chairs, gazing at computer screens and (if the obesity stats are anything to go by) grazing on snacks, over 90% of Scandinavian office workers have the freedom to sit and stand throughout the day with the help of adjustable desks.

deskrite 500 DeskRite 500

It makes sense. There’s an increasing body of scientific research to suggest that spending long periods of time on our behinds isn’t just contributing to the national obesity epidemic. It’s also making us more prone to diabetes, heart problems, some cancers and premature death. Scientists are even saying an hour in the gym after work won’t counteract the dangers of sitting all day.

girl-in-the-gym-1391368_1920 (1)

Somewhat unsettling. Especially if you, like me, depend on a computer to make a living. I’ve always found it difficult physically and mentally to sit still for long periods of time. At the age of 21 I slipped a disc in the gym and ended up with sciatica for at least 10 months of my life. Sciatica causes persistent agonising pain up and down the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back to the toes and makes it difficult to carry out everyday activities. Suffice to say sitting for eight and a half hours a day in an office was not conducive to recovery. I wasn’t the only one. Chronic (long term) pain affects one in 10 people in Britain, and a massive one in four Brits will experience some form of back pain in their lives.

back pain

Our sedentary working culture is only making this problem worse. We’re not built to sit. And yet many of us do so for over 14 hours a day - in the car, at work, at home in front of the telly. When we sit, the body slows down. Heart rate is slower, oxygen flow is stilted, digestion is sluggish. Lazy posture causes hunching and head hanging, which puts strain on the spine that can in time cause injuries — like slipped discs and resulting sciatica.

sedentary office work

I always had a feeling that more activity was the answer. Being immobilised makes you want to move. I spent countless hours in the gym doing any non-weight-baring exercises I could, I took up pilates and cycled to and from work. Eventually the pain faded and life for me is back to normal (aside from a new enthusiasm for strenuous exercise). But many other people of all ages continue to suffer in offices all across the country.

Today I spend some of my working day sitting, and some standing at my DeskRite 500, the ‘top of the range’ sit-stand desk designed by Posturite. Standing boosts blood flow, activates more muscles and remarkably increases my heart rate by about 10bpm compared to sitting (I measure this with my FitBit). In fact one doctor (Dr Mike Loosemore, Lead Consultant in Exercise Medicine at the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health), says that standing for just three extra hours a day is the equivalent of running 10 marathons a year in terms of calories burnt.

There’s no doubt in my mind that sit-stand desks should be a real consideration for employers who want healthy, productive employees. But is the DeskRite 500 the best option? Let’s take a closer look…

deskrite 500 sit-stand desk

Design

Looks are important. Your office is essentially your front cover: it needs to impress. On first impressions the DeskRite 500 looks like a standard, modern computer desk. Unlike the sit-stand surfaces designed to be placed on top of existing desks, the DeskRite doesn’t require any additional accoutrements. In its seated position, you wouldn’t immediately know it was a sit-stand desk. My model has a pale maple finish with a silver frame but there’s also a range of other shades available, including a beech, oak, cherry, walnut, silver, black and white (only maple and beech are available online, for all others you will need to contact Posturite). The cable management system at the back ensures there’s no unnecessary bulk and everything can be kept neat and tidy.

deskrite 500 birds eye view

I use the DeskRite 500 writing desk, which is a simple rectangular shape - perfect for my current set-up with two large monitors. If you know you'll be swapping between paperwork and computer work, you might prefer the right or left corner desks, or a right or left stance desk.

Mechanism

The DeskRite 500 has an intelligent up and down mechanism created by ‘linear actuators’ in the legs. The actuators are manufactured by Linak, globally renowned for high quality engineering. They create a clean movement with accurate and smooth motion control that require little or no maintenance, and have a long lifetime with low operating costs.

Put simply: moving up and down is easy. You’re not going to make heads turn if you decide to stand up for a bit in the middle of the afternoon — and you’re not going to send your computer flying off the surface with any sudden juddery movements.

Controls

The controls are simple: an unobtrusive panel on the right hand side consisting of an up triangle and a down triangle. No over-complicated switches or numbers, just simple buttons that you can control with your hand without even looking at them.

linak switch

The DeskRite 500 can be bought with an optional programming switch so you can set heights for ease, track how many calories you burn, and set timers to remind you to sit or stand throughout the day.

Feel

Looks matter, as does engineering. But I think it’s just as important to consider how a product makes you feel. Initially, I noticed how sturdy the desk was — especially considering it stands on two back legs (sort of like a kangaroo). It can support considerable weight regardless of where it’s distributed. I know, because I’ve often found myself leaning on it with no catastrophic collapses. It’s also worth mentioning that I feel more alert and confident when standing at my DeskRite. Perhaps it’s something about standing body language, or the increased flow of blood around my body. Either way, this sit-stand desk makes me feel good.

Value for money

Starting from £915.00 +VAT, the DeskRite 500 is clearly not the cheapest option out there. This model is for those who want the absolute best; those who want the smoothest movement, the strongest structure, the most robust mechanism.

Posturite offers a guarantee of five years, so broken down the most basic DeskRite 500 (without accessories and add-ons) only costs around £18 a month for five years. Although I have strong suspicions it will far outlive this deadline. If it helps users stay active, strong and fit; if it limits back pain and other health problems associated with sitting, then the return of investment could be huge. How many sick days will it save? How much lost productivity from being in pain?

As simple as it might be, the sit-stand desk changes everything. For me, it’s about freedom. It’s about your employer actually valuing your health and happiness.

Recommended use

The perfect ratio of sitting and standing is unknown. What we do know is that the key is in the transition — moving from sitting to standing and vice versa. For this reason we suggest standing up for 20 minutes of every hour. Set a timer to remind yourself. It’s important!

To conclude…

I love my DeskRite 500. It’s spacious, sturdy and it keeps me moving. If you’re looking for a more affordable option there are lower cost options available, like the DeskRite 300, which is much the same but with more affordable components. Posturite also sells VARIDESK models, which are cheaper but sit on top of your existing desk.

But if you want the creme de la creme — the Ferrari of sit-stand desks, then it’s DeskRite 500 all the way.