Pros & cons of DIY standing desks

Today I have been kneeling at my desk, as I forgot to bring my portable standing desk to work [i.e. prototype 1 of Zestdesk].  It took me back about 25 years when I used to kneel at my work desk for almost 2 years. This followed a lower back injury; since then I haven’t been able to sit for prolonged periods without aggravating the low back pain.

I am a medical general practitioner and patients would find my kneeling hilarious. Some comments were: “While you’re down there Doc, say a prayer for me” and “I’ve never had a doctor kneel at my feet before.”

Some of the surfaces I knelt on were: small cushions, standard pillows, Dacron filled cushions, firm foam, soft foam, gardening pads, carpet, wooden floors and tiled floors (ouch!)

Then one day when my knees were hurting more than my back I thought ‘STUFF THIS’. So I built a DIY standing desk by building a platform to put the desk on. I also bought a ‘high-rise chair’ for the patients to sit on (so they weren’t intimidated by my new elevated desk) and started standing at work.

I have been standing ever since.

Below is a photo of the desk on the platform taken in 2002.

My DIY Standing Desk

This worked very well for me as most of my consulting work was done in this room. Note the rubberised  mat on  the floor which provided great cushioning to my feet.

Then in 2004 I moved from my own medical practice of 20 years in country South Australia to live and  work in  inner city Melbourne. Here I had to share rooms with other GPs who sat at work. The platform  wasn’t an option!

This practice had recently renovated the kitchen and had a spare timber-framed small cupboard [door and back were missing]. This, I ‘seconded’ for a standing desk ‘set-up’ by lying it on its side on the desktop. It weighed about 10 kilograms and had to be put in the storeroom when not in use. It was awkward to handle, so not ideal for someone with a sore back. I used this for 5 years.

After my wife Michelle finished her studies in Melbourne, we decided to go to the Northern Territory for a year in 2009, which ended up being more than four years.  I worked at Wurli Wurlinjang Aboriginal Health Service in Katherine as a senior GP.  Wurli Wurlinjang means ‘home of the mosquito dreaming’ as the first building was erected near a mosquito infested waterhole. This work place was quite different to those in Melbourne and Balaklava, South Australia; here the health service was spread over three different work sites and I needed a car to travel between them. If I was to continue to stand at work, I would need something more portable.

Enter DIY Standing Desk 2 – the Cardboard Box!

DIY Standing Desk – The cardboard box

Here are the boxes I set up to use at home.

This proved useful and was easy to throw in the boot of the car. It was often hard to get exactly the right height. Also other staff would throw my box out, not realising it was a vital piece of ‘office furniture’. Then there would be a mad rush to find a replacement.

On holidays in January 2011 I had an idea.

I decided to design a ‘portable standing desk’ and get it built.

It seemed so simple at the time.  I drew up some plans and rang an Industrial designer. It was over 6 months before I was able to meet with the designer and at that visit the reality of the extent of the project was explained to me. This didn’t deter me, as I realised there were many people with similar problems who were also in need of a ‘portable standing desk-kit’ solution.

The first name for this product was simply the Stand Up Desk; i.e. SUD for short.  Wasn’t very imaginative but is quite descriptive at least.

It is now called ‘ZestDesk’ and we are onto our 3rd prototype and feeling very confident about the product.

The last word of this blog must go to my knees; they are pretty good taking all things into account, even though they creak a lot when I crouch down.

Dr. Peter Moore GP/Family Physician

Written by Maxime

Last Updated: Aug 2nd 2020 

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