Don’t call me DOM

14 March 2013

Standing at work

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The past few years have seen the rise (ha!) of a trend of people with an office job working while standing (rather than sitting). A lot of the motivation for that trend has been health-related, based on the argument that sitting 8 hours or more per day was not something our bodies had evolved for — something I can easily relate to.

I’m susceptible to back pain, which I attribute to a combination of a being relatively tall with having hyperlax joints, so I’m always keen on finding ways to reduce the risks associated with bad posture at work. I have made my best to set up my desktop ergonomically, I have invested in a pretty comfortable chair, and even use from my time to time one of these big exercise balls you can sit upon (although it mostly makes the joy of my children).

Following the positive feedback from a work acquaintance, I recently started setting myself up for alternating between sitting and standing at my desk.

So far, so good! I don’t have much to report on health considerations yet, but I’ve found that standing had unexpected positive effects on my work.

As a remote worker, and in an organization based on international cooperation, I spend a lot of time on the phone, and standing while in teleconferences work well; I find that it helps me stay focused on the discussion, and help me be more expressive while talking (my voice gets easily very dull when talking to my screens). While I still prefer sitting for coding, I have also found that standing helps quite a bit inspiration for more textual writing.

On more practical matters, the current physical set up of my work station to adapt to this alternance is ad-hoc at best:

  • my traditional work mode (while sitting) lets me use my two monitors, a keyboard and a mouse, all sitting on my desk; the docking station with the laptop (to which the two monitors are connected) is up on a second level of the desk
  • when standing, my eyes face the screen of my laptop; I raise the keyboard to the level of wrists by putting it on a box of the right size (I haven’t found a good way to get my mouse at that level yet)

So to switch from sitting mode to standing mode, I switch the display from the two monitors to my laptop built-in screen, and the reverse when sitting again. xrandr let me do this easily from a shell script:

# switching to standing mode
xrandr --output HDMI3 --off --output HDMI2 --off && xrandr --output LVDS1 --primary --mode 1366x768
# switching to sitting mode
xrandr --output LVDS1 --off && xrandr --output HDMI3 --primary --auto --output HDMI2 --right-of HDMI3 --auto

Because I organize my windows differently on my gnome-shell desktop depending on whether I have one or two monitors, I use wmctlr to automatically move the windows I want depending on the mode I’m in.

But if I do stick with that alternance of work postures, I will probably consider investing in more a robust set up, e.g. with a height-adjustable desktop; the ones I have found are fairly expensive though, so I’ll want to make sure I’m not just succombing to another temporary fad…

One Response to “Standing at work”

  1. baidu censor Says:

    Other countries censor content and not just rogue regimes such as the Iranian mullocracy. Poor people!

Picture of Dominique Hazael-MassieuxDominique Hazaël-Massieux ( is part of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Staff; his interests cover a number of Web technologies, as well as the usage of open source software in a distributed work environment.