A few weeks ago, I became one of those weirdos and purchased a Harmoni standing desk.
This was a rational decision and not at all influenced by the fact that my phone was listening to me while at an osteopath appointment where I said ‘standing desk’ twice, then started showing me ads on Instagram about Harmoni standing desks, basically pressuring me to buy one, until I did. That had nothing to do with my decision to buy.
A standing desk you say?
The premise behind standing desks is simple;
“You are descended from apes who spent their days standing and running around to get a handful of berries; you however spend all day sitting down looking at Facebook and spreadsheets and eating cheeseburgers.”
So basically, for your own good, get up off your desk and be more like your primeval forebears. Very Sapiens-like and so on.
I therefore decided to buy a standing desk to see if I too could stand tall and in the pinnacle of health like my ancestors before me. Here’s what I found out.
In the beginning
I’ve wanted a standing desk ever since I visited a good friend of mine in Sweden many years ago and saw his IKEA hack of a standing desk that he put together, basically an IKEA desk surface coupled to a separate set of electrically-powered pneumatic risers. Very neat, me likey.
The problem is that to get a top-of-the-line standing desk of a decent size (my friend’s was too small for me) you need a fair bit of money, plus, I have a very big desk which is adequate and I don’t need or want to change it.
However 2020 being what it was and all of its associated working completely from home, I was basically breaking my back.
Granted, I worked super hard and super long in 2020, often pushing 12 hour days spent mostly sitting down, so I wasn’t doing myself any favours, but as a 34 year old of general fitness and who is not overweight, I did not feel that I should conclude a work day by feeling like an old man coming apart as soon as my butt touches the the dining room chair or the sofa in the evening.
I decided I needed to see to this, and aside from taking up my fitness regimen again and starting a little bit of running once again and so on, I went to an osteopath a couple of times.
He sorted out the damage I had done by sitting badly for so many hours, we discussed posture, I told him that I want to buy a standing desk and I bought the Harmoni standing desk a couple of days later.
I’ve owned it and used it every day for three weeks now and I’m going to tell you the truth as I see it so far about the Harmoni standing desk, about working standing up, as well as whether this protects your health and enhances your productivity.
Is it cheap?
No. It’s not cheap, for what it is. When it arrives, it’s a beautiful thing, lovely chamfered woodwork with rounded corners, gorgeous Harmoni logo etching on the front and so on, but then you say, “Oh, wow I paid so much money for four pieces of slatted wood that basically I could have made myself.”
No doubt I could have made one myself, but it would not have been so pretty, and it would have taken me so long that it would still have cost me that much or more in terms of my time.
So I bought it for €195 and got free shipping, which is always nice. I’ve spent that much on sillier crap before, and this is to improve my health after all, right?
Does it work how you expect?
Yes in some ways and no in others.
It’s simple really; 4 pieces of wood that together make a stand and two shelves upon which you put your mouse and keyboard and laptop or external monitor. Adjust the distance, and you’re good to go – you’re working standing up.
So yes, it works in that you can stand up and work.
Is it flimsy?
No. Once you’ve slotted the shelves in, which is dead easy to do, it can comfortably take the weight of a full size wired Apple keyboard and a wireless mouse with its mat, and the force of my arms resting on it as I type.
It can be a little slippery, but if you’re sliding about with your standing desk, you’re doing it wrong.
Does it actually work?
Yes. I found it extremely helpful, honestly.
So far, and bear in mind I’m three weeks in, I find that working standing up allows me to take calls better as I don’t literally slump into my chair and curl up into a ball and stop thinking.
Instead, I’m standing up and I’m pacing around a little (as my team members by now know) and I keep things snappy and literally on their feet.
We agree on things quicker, decisions are also taken quicker, and things move along.
In terms of productivity, I have found that yes, it helps.
In brief, it’s great for taking calls, which we do a lot more of these days, for watching tutorials, quick replies to emails, and most admin work that isn’t too keyboard intensive.
What about your posture?
Look, I don’t sit perfect, and I don’t stand perfect, but the Harmoni standing desk is helping.
As my osteopath said, it’s about movement – we are not designed to sit or stand still for long periods of time, so the important thing is to move around regularly.
I do feel better than I did 3 weeks ago; my back pain is gone and the sharp pain I’d experienced in my behind when slumping into the sofa after a long day of sitting down is also mostly gone. Like I said, I’m also taking better care of my body and working out, so that’s definitely contributing, but the standing desk must be helping too.
Any downsides to the standing desk?
Well it’s big and does occupy a fair amount of space, so there’s that. You do need a fairly sizeable surface to put it on, so if your desk is tiny, may want to rethink it. You can of course dismantle when you want to sit, but I’ll come to that.
Can you type a sentence without urking at your keybohh\
Typing is a little weirder on a standing desk.
Maybe because the screen is now much further from the keyboard so they’re in completely different fields of view, and especially if you set your keyboard shelf too low, typing standing up takes a little getting used to.
I avoid truly very heavy typing tasks while I am standing, and I either dictate, or save those tasks for later.
The wires, oh the horror
The Harmoni website and Instagram feed makes it look like an extremely pretty product that’s super usable and easy to use and so.
And true, it is, but crucially, all the visual material I saw is someone using a laptop, wireless keyboard, and wireless mouse.
View this post on Instagram
In the real world, that’s not how we work. For “heavy lifting work” I do such as video editing, photo editing, and spreadsheet work, I need a separate, bigger monitor. For that, you’re going to have wires, so the standing desk is never going to look as good as it looks in the promotional pictures with their Zen-like sense of calm and utter bliss in minimalism, because you’re going to have wires dangling off the back.
This just kills me.
Honestly, it’s the thing I dislike most so far, because I have not found a good way to bundle them together and hide them.
It would of course be very easy to tie them together with zip-ties, but if you’re going to want to switch positions, that makes it even harder to do so.
Stand up/sit down
You will want to switch positions from standing to sitting because you’re never going to stand up to work all day long.
According to my osteopath, ideally you should stand for eight minutes, sit for ten and walk for two and keep rotating that way all day.
Now that’s not going to happen because it takes me 60 seconds to disassemble the whole thing and fold it by the side and sit down, and another 60 seconds to assemble the whole thing, which doesn’t sound like much, but I’m not going to be doing that three times per hour.
So what I do is I kind of split my day in half; in the morning after I’ve worked out or I’ve gone running with the dog so I’m pumped, I work standing up until about midday.
In the afternoon, after lunch I sit, though I might stand again at around four.
Sometimes the bottom of my feet start to feel like I’ve been standing in one spot too long, and at that point I’ll know that I’ve overdone it basically and I should have sat down earlier. Hey, you live, you learn.
Switching to a Harmoni standing desk could be the best decision you make this year, says the Harmoni website.
Well, we’re only in the last week of February, and I hope I make a few more good decisions by December, but so far, buying a Harmoni standing desk hasn’t been the dumbest decision of the year either.
If you go to the Harmoni website via this link and use the code AIFWJY you’ll get 10% off your order, and I get a little kickback which you have totally agreed to and are fine with, ok?
UPDATE – The Harmoni website appears to be for sale, their Instagram is dead and has a bunch of comments about people not receiving their orders, so I have no idea what happened to the company. Good luck everybody!