Your desk isn't just a home away from home. Your workplace setup can have a real impact on your workplace posture and ergonomics, which can affect your life expectancy and heart health. Fast.Co reports that standing desks can "be effective in improving overall health, considering both physiological and mental health components."
However, a desk that gets stuck in a seated position or suffers from a slow, loud motor won't perform as advertised. Nothing can make your blood pressure skyrocket more than a desk that's a candidate for your arch-nemesis within a week or two of purchase. To help you ensure that your desk improves your health and happiness instead of inspiring feelings of rage, we'll examine some common problems with sit-stand desks to help you avoid them.
What is a Standing Sitting Desk?
Standing sitting desks, also known as sit to stand desks, offer the best of both words. You can quickly transition between either a sitting or standing position. This option can be perfect for standing newbies, who may need some time to adjust to being on their feet for long periods of time.
In most cases, the "sit to stand" functionality is enabled with a motorized lift. However, some rare sit to stand desks offer spring-loaded lifts or a "stacking" function instead.
We admit we're a little biased when it comes to quality standing sitting desks. However, we've done a lot of research on what's available on the market, and uncovered a few trends based on reading thousands of user reviews. As a result, we've discovered the following patterns in reported issues.
1. Mechanical Failure
Users commonly report mechanical failures with lowering and lifting desks, which can totally defeat the purpose of a sit to stand desk. In worst case scenarios, you could find yourself stuck in an awkward position that's neither sitting or standing.
In some cases, the fix is relatively easy. One Reddit member reported that the mechanical brain of his Ikea desk turned out to be fine, but the power source was dead. A new cord shipped from his manufacturer fixed the issue. In other cases where you've experienced total mechanical failure, you may need to wait for a replacement to be shipped if you're lucky enough to have bought a desk that carries mechanical warranties.
2. Balance Issues
Most standing sitting desks offer a weight capacity between 150-250 pounds, although you may find options with slightly higher or lower capacities. However, the "weight as advertised" isn't always the truth when it comes to stability. In some cases, a stable-looking leg design can indicate a desk that won't wobble or shake at the highest heights—but not always!
3. Loud Motors
There are a few standing desks with a totally quiet motorized lift, however, the best sit to stand desks produce a light "hum" that's not obnoxious.
Others sound "whiny" and may even sound like they're struggling as the desk is raised or lowered. In some office environments, a loud desk motor that produces a "whine" for 10-15 seconds several times a day could win you many, many enemies.
4. Low-Quality Desktops
To be clear, desk tops that are prone to chips, dings, and scratches aren't just a sitting standing desk issue. Any cheap or low-quality desk can develop noticeable wear-and-tear from daily use. Reading between the lines in user reviews can be the most effective way to tell if your desk top is durable.
5. Slow Motorized Lifts
We get it, you're going to want to switch from sitting to standing on the fly. Waiting 10-15 minutes for your desk to complete adjustment can put a crimp in your productivity. Your desk's motorized lift doesn't need to travel at the speed of light, but it should be as efficient as you are.
6. Ergonomic Issues
Rounded shoulders and lower back pain are common complaints of seated desk workers. Unfortunately, a standing desk is no guarantee that your ergonomic woes will disappear.
If you're not average height (meaning short or tall), be sure to carefully investigate the minimum and maximum heights before making a purchase. This can be important to verify that you won't find yourself hunched or stooped at the maximum height extension.
7. Deceptive Marketing
To be clear, deceptive marketing isn't limited to the sitting standing desk industry. No matter what you're buying, there's a chance the product might not work as claimed.
Unhappy buyers of standing desks can find the motorized lift was slower or louder than advertised, or the weight capacity isn't quite what was claimed. If environmental impact is important to you, it may also be important to look beyond a desk brand's messaging to find out if their production processes are truly green.
How Do I Avoid These Standing Desk Problems?
A desk manufacturer's marketing and website promise a sturdy desk with a quiet, super-fast motor. How do you make sure their claims are true, and you won't suffer the world's worst desk?
When you're shopping and comparing options, there are a few steps you can take to ensure your desk is actually what you need.
- Read Online Reviews
Dive deep into what real-life users are saying on Amazon, distributor websites, and third-party review sites to discover any patterns in reviews. Occasional issues happen, however, if you start to notice that dozens of users are complaining that the desk shakes when they're typing, it's definitely something to pay attention to.
- Do Your Research
You're going to want to become fluent in things like motorized lift speeds, desk widths, minimum and maximum height, and other measurements. If you've never shopped for a desk before, these specs can feel like gibberish. We promise, they actually do matter in the end.
- Shop by Warranties
The standard warranty options for sitting standing desk manufacturers can range from 7 years to, well, nothing.
Here's something weird. The most expensive standing desks don't always carry the best warranties. The "worst" desks also don't have the shortest warranties. Pay attention to this part, because it could really matter later on.
- Focus on Customer Support
Let's imagine for a minute that you order your new desk, and absolutely love it. However, you use it for two weeks before something goes haywire. All of a sudden, the mechanical lift starts acting up. What now?
It's important to think about customer support before you order in case you deal with the worst-case scenario at any point. Is there a phone number for customer service questions? Will your questions be handled by an actual representative of the company who can provide resolution or a 3rd-party representative? Are they usually 5-weeks back ordered on replacements or will you receive one quickly?
Customer support can be the difference between an amazing experience with your desk manufacturer, or an awful one. Don't hesitate to test their service availability before you buy!
- Look for a "Lifestyle" Company
Standing desks are technically furniture. But that doesn't necessarily mean you should buy a desk from a cut-rate furniture manufacturer! Standing desks aren't the same as couches or even seated desks.
A standing desk manufacturer who considers themselves a lifestyle brand may invest in better design. They may perform more thorough testing to see if a desk is up to the task of supporting your work, 45-60 hours each week. They may field better laboratory testing to ensure a quality product. The difference between "lifestyle" and furniture brand may seem subtle, but it can make a huge difference in customer experience.
A sitting standing desk should support your desire for a healthy work lifestyle, not make your life more difficult. By doing thorough research before buying a new desk, you can avoid slow motors, product failures, instability, and other common issues with adjustable desks.
To learn more about what StandDesk's real customers have to say about our products, click here!