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Trying Out a Standing Desk + Livening Up My New Office

I split my work days between two spaces: my lovely home office (above, with its DIY walnut waterfall desk, sunny window with mountain view, and a handy treadmill in the closet), and a windowless office space which literally used to be a closet (below).

I am really trying to make this closet-office work, and I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to work from home some days, but if I am being honest with you then I have to admit that the dreary, windowless space has made it difficult to stay motivated.  It was especially difficult when the days were the shortest, because I’d commute in the dark both ways and then spend the entire day under fluorescent light.  I know that this plight is not unique to me and many, many people log their working hours in less than ideal conditions – and to some, I probably have it really good (did I mention they recently installed a heater in this closet office?  #spoiled).

I also know that I have been very lucky.  Getting to work from home for 10+ years was a luxury and I took for granted how the sunlight pouring in kept my mood elevated and my brain focused.  Adapting to a new environment – the job and the office – has been challenging, but that’s life.

I knew the adjustment would be difficult, but what I didn’t predict was how the job would wreak havoc on my body, thanks to a 2-3 hour commute (depending on winter road conditions) each day, combined with extended periods of sitting at a desk.  When I work from home I can skip that time commuting, plus I am more inclined to get up for breaks.  I toss a load of laundry in the machine, take the dogs for a pee break, or hop on the treadmill for 15 minutes.  At the office, I just sit and sit and sit and sit – sometimes I even sit on my breaks and lunch because someone comes in and we chat.  Or I just feel too blah to get up.  For some reason, I just move less at the office.  By the end of my first week, I was getting so sore and achy that it was actually painful to drive home.

The saddest thing is that I am doing research in workplace health – and my own work space made me unhappy and unhealthy!

I decided that I had to make some changes.  I brought in a few things from home to make my desk a little nicer and more functional – even something small, like switching my mouse pad for a prettier cacti one and bringing in a photo of Hubby and I, made me happier.

It sounds silly, but buying an inexpensive electric kettle made my office situation so much better too, because having a nice cup of tea any time I want is so relaxing and comforting, plus walking down the hall to fill up the kettle gives me a reason to move at least a few times a day – but I’m not blowing my pay check by wandering over to the cafe every day.

Don’t laugh, but I also went exploring and found a bathroom really far away and that’s the one I use – so once I filter my tea (haha), I’ve got an excuse stretch my legs.  Now that the weather is warming up (but still kinda snowy and icy where I live), I keep some boots with good tread under my desk so I can go for a little walk around on my lunch.

All of these little changes have added up (and I still have more changes to make), but the biggest change was adding a convertible standing desk – which has actually made a HUGE impact on my health.  My physiotherapist warned against a standing desk because standing all day can cause health problems too, but I really wanted the chance to switch between sitting and standing.  I did a lot of research and the problems sitting causes us are so alarming.  The solution seems to be avoiding staying stationary: not sitting or standing in one place for too long.  So a desk that converts from sitting to standing – and a commitment to move more during the day – seems to be the best way to combat the negative health impacts of sedentary jobs like mine.

To help me make my office space healthier, AnthroDesk sent me their ErgoSpring Standing Desk Converter (and an anti-fatigue mat) for review and this standing desk been a life changer for me.

It is HEAVY, so Hubby helped me haul it in (say that three times fast!).  Set up was quick and easy (10 minutes – just as promised), and because of the weight this desk is incredibly sturdy.  It grips my existing desk with four strong suction cups.  Sometimes I lightly lean on it when people come in for a chat (shhhh, you’re not supposed to do that) and it doesn’t even wobble – it’s so solid.

By grabbing two levers on either side, I can lift or lower this convertible standing desk with ease thanks to the gas spring technology.  The desk has six different height adjustments available: 44cm, 43cm, 38cm, 31cm, 22cm, 13cm, which is what I wanted because, at 5″9, I’m not freakishly tall but, as my Mom says, I have a long turkey neck, so I like that the desk height can be adjusted – I always use the tallest height setting.

In the lowered position, it raised my work surface a bit, so having an adjustable chair was necessary.

The height and ergonomics are perfect, but I am still struggling a little with the mouse because if my keyboard is where I want it (centered), my mouse is moved to the right and then my hand feels like it rubs under the desk.

But the positive impact on my health has been amazing.  I still experience some pain and stiffness because, as my physiotherapist tells me, I shouldn’t be sitting for more than 2-3 hours a DAY – and I do that just driving to work and home.  However, I do feel a lot better better thanks to this standing desk option.  When I’m standing, I try to do some light stretching and movement while I work and that helps a lot – I never keep my feet planted in the same standing position for hours on end.  Plus, when I’m already standing I seem to be more inclined to move, which is great!  The key, for me to feel good, seems to be finding the balance between sitting, standing, and walking around.

I would definitely suggest a convertible standing desk as an option to anyone who sits for work, with the caveat that you alternate between sitting and standing to reap the full benefits.  Huge thanks to AnthroDesk for sending me this convertible standing desk!  The best thing is that they have both a Canadian website and a US website and – major perk for my Canadian friends – they offer free shipping in Canada (for orders over $50).  Check out their FAQ page if you’re interested in more information on standing desks.  If you’re ready to commit, they offer regular sales and discounts, so be sure to follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  There’s a giveaway on the US page right now (good luck!).

While I adjust to this new work environment, I’d love to hear from readers who have made their work spaces happier and healthier – what are your tips for me?



  1. Mia
    March 1, 2018 / 5:56 pm

    What a great start–standing, and the very important stretching. Where do you get/keep your source of water? We had filtered water in the kitchen at work, and I would get only half a mugful, so that I had to get up and walk more. If the florescent light is bright enough, I think violets do well. A small group would be a nice splash or color. And ZZ plants require so little light. Maybe have one at home and one at the office (or any low light plant) and swap them out every month or so, if necessary. And if they would permit hanging one framed poster/print on the wall visible while at your desk would be a mood booster. And sunlight-simulator lamps just for your situation. Looking forward to your posts about this.

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      March 2, 2018 / 6:04 pm

      There’s a fountain down the hall. Not filtered, sadly, but better than using a bathroom sink – gross. I love your plant ideas! I had no idea a violet could live here. Swapping plants at home is such a smart idea. Thank you for so many great ideas!

  2. Jennifer Renda
    March 2, 2018 / 12:23 am

    Agree about artwork that makes you smile. I live in the land of cubicles, so a standing desk with my 3 monitors would not work for me sadly. However, positive artwork and pictures of my hubby and cats bring my space to life. I also try to get up and move around when I can.

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      March 2, 2018 / 6:06 pm

      That’s a lot of monitors! I have seen standing desks that accommodate more monitors. Maybe you just need to find the right one? But getting up and moving is good too. I think artwork is such a good idea – I hope my office mate won’t mind me hanging up a beach scene.

  3. Cred X
    March 2, 2018 / 5:30 pm

    Oh yes, as Mia said, plants. Pothos (Devils ivy) can grow pretty well in a windowless room but swapping hem out with pants from home is a good idea- plus getting up to fill a watering can and to water is one more task away from your desk, albeit only once a week. I think a couple of wall pockets like you have (I think they were umbra) would be beautiful on the wall with a couple of plants. Plus, plants clean the air.

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      March 2, 2018 / 6:06 pm

      I am learning so much about plants today! I am really excited about the idea of having one at work – I didn’t think it was possible with no window. So happy I asked!!

  4. Staci Jackson
    March 3, 2018 / 12:20 am

    I can see how rubbing your hand against the upper level of your desk would get bothersome. I use a mouse like this at work (and I have for 4 years) and it helps reduce arm and shoulder fatigue A TON. It takes several days to get used to but now I never even think about my "weird" mouse.

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      March 4, 2018 / 5:46 pm

      It does look so funny but I can totally see it being way more comfortable! Thanks for the tip, I never would have tried this without someone recommending it.

  5. Staci Jackson
    March 3, 2018 / 12:22 am

    Followup comment: I didn't realize the one I linked you was FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS. You should certainly be able to obtain one for a fraction of the price. I just picked the one that looked the most like mine- HA!

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      March 4, 2018 / 5:44 pm

      Haha yeah a bit steep lol, but I get the idea. Thanks for the recommendation – that might be a really good solution!!

  6. the optimist
    March 3, 2018 / 2:23 am

    You might also look into an ergonomic keyboard and mouse — I was lucky enough to snag the ones an officemate was giving away before they moved to a new job and I have no plans to switch back. I never realized how much they were contributing to the tension in my shoulders and neck. The mouse takes the most getting used to!I have an older version of this keyboard: a non-wireless version of this mouse (can't find a direct link):

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      March 4, 2018 / 5:45 pm

      Thanks for these links! I do think an ergonomic keyboard and mouse are my next must-haves for my desk set up. It’s nice to have a recommendation because it’s so overwhelming…

  7. Mia
    March 23, 2018 / 7:16 pm

    What’s become of your office decor? Will there be an update post on the improvements you’ve made, and if they’ve helped you? So hoping it’s better.

    • Tanya from Dans le Lakehouse
      March 25, 2018 / 11:47 pm

      It’s still a work in progress! I’ve been out of the office a bit (yay) so I haven’t had a chance to hang art or do anything new. But the standing desk and some happy pops of color have helped a lot. To be honest though, I do still struggle with the darkness in there. I have had some recommendations for plants that can live under florescent, so I want to track some down.

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