how to ask for a treadmill desk or standing desk at work

A reader writes:

In nine months, I’ll be finishing up a post-bac university program that will qualify me for entry-level staff accountant positions. For the past few years now, I’ve become very interested in treadmill desks as a way to stay alert/awake, healthy, and productive at work. These treadmills are designed to be quiet and unobtrusive to others in your working area, and their top speed is often around 2 to 3 MPH. Even some standard cubicle desks can be converted to a standing desk with no permanent changes or damage to company property.

I strongly believe that sitting for 8+ hours a day is bad for your health, and regularly working out in the evenings is not enough to controvert the negative effects of all that sitting (I believe there’s some emerging research to support this). Of course, I’m headed into a job where sitting all day is the norm, but I’m eager to avoid that. This is very important to me, and I’m willing to save up and pay for these two items (the standing desk arm and the treadmill) myself.

As I begin to prepare for the next recruiting season for full-time jobs, when would be the appropriate time to bring this up? All I’m seeking is the company’s permission to purchase these items myself and use them in my workspace. Would it be appropriate to bring this up during the offer stage? Or would it be better to wait until after I’ve been in the new job for six months or so, and have established something of a track record? Or would it be best to wait until I’ve had a few years of experience and am in a more senior position? In which of these scenarios would you feel most receptive to such a request?

It would be great if this were such a routine thing that you didn’t even have to worry about asking, and could just bring it up casually. In reality, though, while standing desks and treadmills desks are becoming more of a commonplace thing, there are still plenty of employers where the request risks marking you as high-maintenance if you ask for it right off the bat.

So, is it a deal-breaker for you? In other words, if a company for some reason said no, would you still want the job?

If it’s a deal-breaker, you should bring it up during the offer stage. I’d say something like this: “I’m really interested in having a standing desk or a treadmill desk for health reasons, and would be willing to pay for it myself. Is that something you’d be okay with?”

If it’s not a deal-breaker, I’d wait until you’ve been on the job for a while. For some reason, there’s something different about asking for special equipment as a brand new person than there is when you’ve been there a while and have become more of a known quantity.

I don’t think you need to wait years though. Six months in, it shouldn’t be a big deal to say, “Hey, I’d love to get a standing desk or a treadmill desk. Is that something you’d be okay with? I’d even purchase it myself if I needed to.”

{ 195 comments… read them below }

  1. I live to serve*

    Most work places want you to be as healthy and as comfortable as possible to be able to do your best work. It has been my experience that there is no reason to bring it up in any of the interview stages. Make sure that some time during the interview stages you ask to see the work space that the position occupies. Assume approval for a standing desk (I am not sure of the space considerations/ co-worker distraction of the treadmill) Casually note that you will be needing a standing desk and if there isn’t a budget for one you will handle the expense. No need to go into details or studies or anything else.

    1. JMegan*

      I don’t know, I think that would go down…not badly, but certainly oddly, where I work. It’s a pretty conservative culture, so not only do we not have these types of desks, but the person who asked for them would probably be considered a little weird. I wouldn’t assume approval, even for a standing desk.

      And it’s not free, even if the employee pays for the desk itself, because it would still have to be company staff who dismantled the existing desk and installed the new one. (Or at least, it’s free in terms of monetary cost, but there would definitely be company resources required.)

      Unless you’re really sure of the culture you’re walking into, I think it would be better to take Alison’s advice and wait about six months, until you’re a bit more of a known quantity.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        There are attachments that can be added to existing cube-type office furniture, so it really could be free, but we don’t know where the OP will land. . .they could have old-school wood desks or something.

        1. kristinyc*

          One of my coworkers rigged something out of an Ikea end table (he attached a shelf to it for his keyboard/mouse, and just put the whole thing on his desk) for a standing desk. Not expensive, and easy to remove. Now I kind of want one. :)

          1. YoungHR*

            I started standing at my desk about a year and a half ago. I grabbed empty paper cases and they are the perfect height!

          2. MaggiePi*

            I did the same thing with those black plastic crates and two wooden boards. It was meant as a temporary trial before I invested in something else, but it works just fine, so why change it!

    2. socrescentfresh*

      That said, some employers that value employee health also have strict rules about workspace layout and equipment that make standing desks and treadmill desks a non-starter. I work at a large medical research nonprofit that offers fantastic benefits, encourages biking to work, has locker rooms and midday yoga classes…and requires a doctor’s note for a standing desk. After several years in this job, I asked about buying my own standing desk converter and was told they’re forbidden except for employees who can’t sit for long periods due to medical conditions. So basically, even though I want a standing desk to stay healthy, I have to be injured or sick to get one.

      1. the gold digger*

        A coworker at my former job got a standing desk. It was a pain in the neck for her to get it because someone had to reconfigure her cubicle and the organization did not have its own maintenance staff so had to use the contractor, etc. Based on my one data point, I would suggest waiting until you are in the job before asking.

        PS If this were true – “Most work places want you to be as healthy and as comfortable as possible” – then we would all still have doors.

          1. Gobrightbrand*

            I’m currently sitting crosslegged and would be horribly annoyed if my desk wasn’t tall enough to allow it. Maybe a shorter chair?

            1. kozinskey*

              I have this problem too, and I’m tall. I can lower my chair, but if I do that, then I end up so close to the ground that my legs are uncomfortable in an entirely new way. There’s just no winning!

              1. LCL*

                Again, I work in a big company so I would call facilities. But if I worked in a small office, I would look online for blocks made to fit the office furniture. That’s all facilities does to raise our desks. Once you have the parts on hand, this can be done fairly quickly.

          2. Windchime*

            Yes, this. I am very tall for a woman (5’11”). The lower sitting desks were ridiculously short for me when we moved to this building; I could barely get my legs under them. The “ergonomics specialist” came over to evaluate my situation and said there was nothign to be done; I could either crouch down at the low desk or get a “standing” desk. The standing desk is too low to stand at, but now I can get a tall chair and at least sit comfortably. This “specialist” could see no reason why a tall person would need to have a desk of a different height from a short person.

            My son is 6’5″ with back problems. He works for the state, so there is no money for special equipment. He rigged up a standing desk with stacks of copy paper packs.

            1. BeenThere*

              Wow, some specialist that was. I’ve worked places where the tall people get the appropriate desks and monitor mounts. I’m 5′ 8″ fortunately I’m long torsoed so I sit low and have my monitors high. I still wish I had the adjustable height desks we had in the computer labs at university.

      2. Suze*

        I can’t help but wonder if you were to present the idea in the form of a proposal using a persuasion method set out by Alison G in this article that it might fit better with your corporate culture.
        I like also that one of the respondents to this article said that once one person had a standing desk in their office they wanted one too.
        Ideas are infectious!

    3. LQ*

      I think a tour of the space (which can give a lot of value in other ways too) is a great way to handle this.

      I think a treadmill desk would be kind of more difficult. My org gives out standing desks to anyone who asks but would never consider a treadmill because of the implications if you fell at work. (And yes it happens, and no you can’t just pinkie swear you won’t fall.)

      1. SJP*

        I was definitely just thinking this. We’ve just started to make the transition into standing desks at my work but only because a good few people asked for one. Not their permanent desk but one they can use from time to time when stretching their legs. If they asked for a treadmill desk I’d seriously think they’d get told no, no matter how quiet they may be they’re still going to be distracting as people walk loudly on them, and also could fall, things get caught in them etc. They’re just too much for a risk for a company to say yes to i think, even one like ours that takes H&S very seriously but is realistic.
        Also i think it depends on the culture. If we had a new starter ask here I think they’d accommodate them somewhat but not straight off the bat, even if that person was paying.
        Also the company have to take into consideration that you may insist that the company pay for it if it breaks cause its on work property/if a colleague broke it..

      2. Penny*

        Yeah, the injury thing would be an issue for employers, but also a treadmill would be loud, make it difficult for others to come collaborate at your desk, use a lot of electricity and they take up a ton of space. And if one person asks for that, everyone else wants to know why they don’t get a treadmill, so $$$$. Yes, of course it would be healthier, but it’s not the only consideration on the employer’s side.

        A standing desk seems much more reasonable. A couple people at our company have them and their cube is still set up with the standard desk, but they have kind of a minidesk on top of the regular desk. I’ve thought about doing this, but am afraid I’ll be lame and want to go back to sitting :/

        1. Sam*

          I have had a standing desk for about 2 years and it helped significantly with my back condition at work. I still had back pain but while standing at my desk I was fine, with a sitting desk I would have to have gone home.

          My large employer just provided a treadmill desk after I turned in note and it is better than I expected. At 1.4 mph or less it is completely silent. At the max of 2mph there is noise, but it isn’t the treadmill. I can not physically walk at that speed without my feet making some noises. If someone is lazily walking at 1mph then there could be noise if they don’t pick up their feet.

          Others have expressed interest so yes there will likely be other people requesting them at a cost over 3 grand each but will likely be a wise investment. I believe the only real concern is people asking for them and then not using them.

      3. Ž*

        Agree. Just walk in place while standing if you must.

        Also, 2-3 MPH is 16-24 miles in a workday. that’s a marathon isn’t it?

        I walk everywhere I go because I don’t have any other transportation. my limit used to be about 17km but now my hips start hurting after 8km and then i can start limping.

    4. Sadsack*

      I think that assuming approval and casually noting something that you’ll need to work that is increasingly popular but certainly not yet the norm is extremely presumptuous. Asking would probably get better results, at least where I work. We have office planning staff who handle this stuff. From my own experience, it is an easier conversation with space planning and with management to ask for things than to just tell them what you need, even if you do want to cover the cost.

      1. I live to serve*

        okay…I see your point. I am approaching from a disability point of view. It is often not necessary to go into long explanations for a simple request.

  2. Dawn*

    I’ve seen tons and tons and tons of my friends convert to standing desks, across all kinds of organizations and verticals, so I definitely think there’s a sweeping change a’comin! I would also say that when you go in for an interview you can look around the office to see if anyone already has a standing desk, or if the office configuration would support a standing desk- not that your observations will definitely rule out a standing desk, just that if you go into an office with a cafeteria style open seating plan that an open desk would probably disrupt that way more than at a company where everyone has their own offices.

  3. infj*

    You might want to consider looking for a job at an architecture/engineering firm where there are (or may be) drafting tables. Those are essentially standing desks and (depending on how old the firm/office is) may already be everywhere. At my office, almost everyone has a drafting table in their office and all of the staff sits/stands at drafting tables even though we work primarily on computers. When I got promoted, I was moved to one of the only offices without a drafting table. After some consideration, I decided to go back to the staff area so I could be at a drafting table. The ability to stand at my desk was worth the perception/problem of me being a manager without an office.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      OTOH, I’ve worked in engineering firms for 15 years and we’ve never had drafting tables.

      I had one as my desk at home growing up, and I really liked it. You can easily switch between a high chair/stool and standing. It would be a great solution for companies to go to this instead of regular height desks.

      1. Kyrielle*

        I have an Ergotron at work, and I LOVE it. I sit with my feet on the floor, and when I want to stand, I slide the keyboard/mouse/monitors smoothly up to standing height. It’s awesome. Plus it lets me lower the keyboard below desk surface height, moreso than even a keyboard tray, which is handy when I sit because I have short legs.

      2. Glorified Plumber*

        Same (only 8 years though), there were a few drafting tables for the old refinery clients that still had mylars they had not scanned and overlayed, but they were not for normal personal use.

        Everyone else was shoe-horned into crappy old furniture.

        INFJ, sadly many engineering firms are low profit centers… furniture is expensive. :) Must spend that overhead on layers on management instead.

        1. infj*

          I’m sure that’s why we still have drafting tables. We’ve been in this location since the 1960s and have the furniture to prove it. No one gets anything new, we just find new uses for old things. Also, I’m specifically at an architecture firm so I was extrapolating for engineering firms. Maybe I assumed too much.

          1. Glorified Plumber*

            Hah… excellent point! I had assumed my company was the cheapest one out there, but I had not considered that there are firms so cheap they STILL have their drafting tables. :) Ours were maintained for “work” purposes vs. cheap-o purposes. :)

            Generally all/most engineering drawings for refineries have gone the way of CAD or CAD overlay, but, we maintained a few drafting boards (in an office of c. 225 people) since every now and then we had a refinery client who had not tiffed their piping plans for overlay and still had mylars. None of the design work was done on the mylar, the mylars were just “after everything was done, go update the piping plans” kind of thing.

  4. Accountant in TO*

    If your staff accounting role would be in a public accounting type role, it’s worth keeping in mind that you are very often out at a client sites and may not have as much control over your work space.

    Of course if that is not the type of role you are looking at, this would not apply at all :)

    1. cardiganed librarian*

      Yes, and the accounting firm I worked at put the junior accountants in a bullpen layout for this reason. A standing desk would definitely stand out quite a lot in that arrangement.

    2. MaryMary*

      Some companies are going to flex space or hoteling too. It would be difficult to have a treadmill or standing desk if you weren’t guaranteed to be in the same spot everyday.

  5. Hrm*

    I guess it depends on the workplace culture and other factors (like if the treadmill noise would bother co-workers), but gosh, if they were willing to pay for it? Go nuts!

  6. Anony-moose*

    I want a standing desk so badly. In fact, two of our senior staff members have them, and my boss (who is one of the two) asked if I wanted them. But our administrative manager/finance person said we couldn’t afford and refused to order one for me.

    I’m thinking of purchasing one myself but they can be expensive. I’m pretty irritated that it’s apparently an ok expense for a director but not an assistant director, and that even though I am in the office and at my desk significantly more than my boss, this expense wasn’t approved.

    This is a bit ranty. Sorry :(

      1. Anony-moose*

        This looks similar to the ones we have here, which run about $400. I’m not sure why it became an issue other than that our administrative manager may not think it’s important. Sigh.

      2. The IT Manager*

        Oh! I was already planning to buy dual monitor arms. This would sohandle the monitor mounts and the standing desk in one fell swoop.

      3. Judy*

        I’m not sure I’ve ever had a desk at work that this would work with. Almost all of them have been L shaped with the monitor in the corner, and bookshelf cabinets on the cubicle wall above the monitors. Even at my current desk, it would be pretty odd, because there would be a lot of unused space where my monitors are now, due to how the keyboard is with the L.

        TL;DR: The solution would depend on the office layout, not necessarily what you want.

      4. Case of the Mondays*

        There is also the cost of switching you to a wireless keyboard and mouse if you currently have a wired set up. You will likely need a longer monitor wire to in order to accommodate the up and down. If you are going to stand only then I guess you don’t need wireless keyboard/mouse just long wires but if you are up and down and the wires go through holes you might need wireless.

      5. Someone who Stands*

        I used to have this ergotron. Beware that it wobbles a lot and the monitors move quite a bit as you type. I now have the “varidesk”. It is less expensive, adjusts easily, and is much more stable. I love it!

        1. Someone who Stands*

          Oh. And no installation for the Varidesk. You just set it on top of your desk and you are ready to go.

      1. Anony-moose*

        I was thinking of making one like that at home, but at work I want the option to sit!

        After reading this thread i’m thinking of talking to my doctor. I have low-grade chronic back pain from horseback riding as a kid (and as an adult…and falling a lot). Or just revisiting it a little more strongly now that I’ve been with this organization for close to 9 months.

        (I asked for one when I started…actually my boss asked for me. Now that I have a bit more clout I wonder if I would get a different answer!)

        1. Kyrielle*

          Something like an Ergotron, that lets you sit and stand, would be ideal. Hopefully a doctor’s note would help if needed!

      2. QAT Contractor*

        Home made standing desks can pose a saftey concern for the company though. Most office desks are fairly large and well based, or secured somehow, so there is less concern.

        There were about a dozen people in my office that used this $22 Ikea standing desk idea and mounted monitor brackets to them then hung two 20″ monitors on them. Not a good idea. The base was not stable as it wasn’t secured to anything and it was just Ikea furniture, which is not the best built/strongest material out there. It didn’t take much for things to move or get knocked over by accident when using these setups.

        Using one like the OP posted that actually fastens to the desk without damaging it would be a better option, but as another person mentioned, in an open office setting it can be very distracting. I know it was moderately distracting for me due to our nearly nonexistant cube pod walls (there are 8 people at a pod of attached cubes).

        But it doesn’t hurt to ask I guess. Waiting 6 months or asking during the interview session doesn’t really make much difference as it shouldn’t affect the company’s decision to make an offer. But if it’s something you absolutely can’t live without at work, it would be better to know earlier than later.

        As for treadmills, as quiet as they may be, you still have noise from the machine, the walking itself and bouncing floors from the motion. In my office, my monitors shake when someone in the next cube pod bounces their leg, so the treadmill would drive me nuts.

  7. Beaker*

    I live in a cube farm and more and more people are getting the adjustable desks so we can move up and down throughout the day. Our company provides them upon request but a doctor’s note is required beforehand. They can be a bit noisy but it only lasts a few seconds and no one is really bothered by it. I’ve been here for 8 years and just, finally, got one last fall due to back issues. It’s been great and has helped me a ton. I haven’t heard of the treadmill desk, though, but that sounds intriguing.

    1. Us, Too*

      We have these adjustable/standing desks in every cube/office in our workspace. However, the motors are INCREDIBLY annoying because it will be nearly completely silent and then suddenly you hear a pretty loud grinding/motor noise for several seconds. Therefore, we’re asked to please make these adjustments early in the morning, after work, or when colleagues aren’t on the phone, etc. And we’re also supposed to be nice about it, obviously – “heads’ up Bob and Susan, I’m about to adjust my desk – it’s going to be noisy for a minute.”

      That said, I’d be surprised if even 10% of our workforce stands. Most of us use the up/down feature to simply make the height of the desk right for our particular heights/chairs.

      1. abby*

        Several of us have adjustable standing desks that do not have motors. Once you place it on your desk, and it works really well in a cube, you can raise or lower manually. No motors, not much sound. I love mine.

    2. Anony-moose*

      This is why I love AAM. I hadn’t thought about asking a doctor. As I said above I have some back pain too (really low-grade, luckily, but consistent) and I go to the chiro and a massage therapist regularly to deal with it. Time to revisit!

      1. Molly*

        My workplace is in the health care sector and very motivated in the employee-health area, and we’re just starting to see standing desks around the office. I requested one last week myself! I want to be able to sit part time/stand part time as I build up my standing and walking endurance (which is really low right now). I had to get a doctor’s note, but they didn’t ask in a mean way – I think they just needed the documentation in case I keeled over from too much standing and decided to sue. My doctor (who was at her own standing desk when I asked her!) says she thinks everyone should have one, and wrote the note right there in the office. Part of our process is to have an ergonomics person come out and evaluate the person making the request, to make sure the equipment (sitting and standing) is all at the right height, and that I’m using the right posture.

        I do think it’s going to come up more and more as time goes on!

  8. AnotherAlison*

    Bringing it up in the interview seems presumptuous, kind of like mentioning planned near-term vacation time before an offer.

    I would also plan for a standing desk rather than a treadmill desk, unless you’re at a really health-oriented company that already has treadmill desks. We have a lot of people with standing desks here (and I’d love to snag one myself), but no treadmills. We’re very safety oriented, and I could see some objections to treadmills as a tripping hazard. I have a fairly big office, and I think it would still be intrusive.

  9. rozin*

    An option you may want to consider in order to get in your exercise is an under the desk bicycle ( They are relatively inexpensive, quiet, and cause no inconvenience for your employer since as far as anyone can tell, you’re sitting at your desk. I’ve been using one casually (I aim for 20 miles per day) and have had great results.

      1. Hrm*

        Oh, I’d love that! Walking and working= too much for me, but I could definitely sit and pedal and at least be somewhat healthier!

        1. The Office Admin*

          Yes! I don’t think I’m coordinated enough to type and walk at the same time, but I could definitely pedal and type at the same time!

    1. Hlyssande*

      I asked if I could have one of those (one of my friends has one and loves it to bits), and they turned me down.

      I was really hoping for it because doing a mindless activity really helps me concentrate on things like conference calls where I need to listen but not contribute much. In college, I knitted. Here, not so much. It’s too easy to get distracted by something like AAM or other sites when I should be paying better attention.

      Hard to make that case to HR, though.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      I just added that to my wish list, and since it’s cheaper than the adjustable height desk, might be what I get instead.

    3. Mephyle*

      Sidetrack: How do you accommodate an under-the-desk bicycle? If I put one into my present desk configuration, my knees would bump up against my under-desk keyboard tray.

      1. rozin*

        If you can, I’d first recommend trying to get rid of the keyboard tray. I removed mine, and I am able to put the cycle where it is the most comfortable for me. However, if you cannot/don’t want to do that, move the cycle forward or push your chair back until your legs stop hitting the desk. The cycle I linked to is designed to be pedaled at from an angle so you don’t have to be right on top of it to pedal away. Hope that helps!

  10. The IT Manager*

    I most agree with Alison’s response, but recommend you stop and pause for their response before offering to pay for it yourself. It is entirely possible that they already have some standing desks or treadmill desks for employees. Standing desks more likely than treadmill desks, I think.

    “I’m really interested in having a standing desk or a treadmill desk for health reasons. Do you offer that as a possible desk configuration? stop and wait for a response …, and I would be willing to pay for it myself. Is that something you’d be okay with?”

  11. AMG*

    Speaking as someone who has worked in an office that has these, I think they are great. Research healthy companies with gyms, etc too. Take a conference call while walking on the treadmill.

    I work in a place where walking breaks are encouraged, and have no problem getting my 10K steps even without a desk tradmill. Also, I have successfully subsidized things that are important to me to purchase. A $400 laptop bag, for example. I said, ‘I don’t expect the company to pay for this; I am willing to buy it myself. Can I take a fixed amount of money that the company would have spent on a laptop bag and I will subsidize the rest?’ It was fine, and the (woman) CEO complimented me on it. She had a designer laptop bag too.

    1. OHCFO*

      I have to know… what bag? And what size laptop? I am desparate to find a nice bag that fits my new laptop. It’s about the size of a 17″ MacBook pro.

      1. AB Normal*

        Not AMG, but also got praised by C-level executives about my laptop bag, so I wanted to give you the link. Unfortunately it’s not selling anymore, but it looks like soon they’ll have a new model. The quality of the bag is superb, it may be worth waiting for it and seeing if there will be a version that fits a 17” (I paid around $300 for mine, the one in the picture, for 15” laptops):

        1. Fee*

          Wow I really like the look of those bags, especially the short handle. Other laptop handbags tend to be far too briefcase or satchel for my style. Hope the new style comes out soon.

  12. The IT Manager*

    I hope this is not hijacking the thread. For the LW and those with standing desks or co-workers with standing desks: are these full time standing desks, the convertable ones that move up and down, or do the employees have a high stool so they can sit a the standing desk on occassion?

    I just moved full time to my home office and plan to get a standing desk of some sort, but have trouble picturing myself being able to stand all day at least to start. I’ve had some foot/fallling arches trouble in the recent past. But I highly suspect not sitting all day would help with hamstring, quad tightness I have.

    1. FJ*

      My office seems to have all three options
      – small temporary stands for keyboard/mouse and tiltable monitor stand (me)
      – surfaces on a regular desk that raise the entire thing up and down
      – full height desks with stools

    2. Us, Too*

      We were told that if you are uncomfortable standing, that is your body telling you to sit down and to adjust the desks to sit for a while. We also weren’t given special mats for this reason. Stand or sit – whatever works for you at that time.

    3. LQ*

      I have a full time standing desk at work and at home. The one at work is a little low for me (I’m super tall, it’s already a problem), but I stand a lot, I’m also in meetings a good bit, on the days when I’m not at meetings at all I do need to sit some. I have a tall chair for that. But I also have gone months without sitting at my desk (there was a chair issue).

      At home I have a desk custom made for me (which is AWESOME), and a chair to match. I don’t stand much when I get home after work but I do a lot on the weekends and even for gaming marathons I’ll find myself standing for a couple hours at a time or more.

      The trick here is really get a chair you can sit at sometimes. And you want to have a chair in case you get injured and can’t stand. (Or as insurance against that happening.)

    4. OP*

      What I’m talking about is a convertible arm that will let you raise/lower your computer monitors, keyboard, and some space for a mouse. You can switch back and forth between standing and sitting to use your computer. My SO uses one of these at his job and loves it.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      Okay, this is even more hijacking, but I wanted to address your quad/hammy tightness : )

      I’ve had pain in my left hip for 18 months, and I finally found a medical practitioner who did not think it was “IT Band Syndrome.” My glut med muscle is dysfunctional, which is causing hip pain. I have been getting Active Release Therapy in this area, plus stretching exercises and foam rolling, and now we’re moving into strengthening exercises to get the muscle firing again. I don’t know that my problems are your problems, but it’s a fairly universal sitting office worker issue: our bum muscles quit working. The quads and lower back try to compensate, so that’s why you get pain there, too.

      IMHO, the solution is to get treatment/do therapy or your own exercises to get your bum working again, and then stand more to prevent the problem.

      1. fposte*

        Seconded; the smaller glutes especially pack up, as you note. Additional benefit–strong glutes really help stabilize the back.

    6. Beezus*

      I’ve had both the convertible ones that move, with a low chair for sitting, and a standing height desk with a tall stool.

      The standing height desk was really a worksurface attached at standing height inside a tall (68″?) cubicle. We had the option to have our workstations set up for sitting or standing, the only difference was the bracket height. When you were new or when you were moving to a different area (we changed seating arrangements a lot), you were asked which orientation you preferred, and your spot would be switched, if necessary, to the height you requested.

    7. Stan*

      I work full time from my home office and just purchased a motorized sit/stand desk. It’s only been a few weeks and it’s been life changing.

      Post lunch drowsiness? Gone!
      Bad posture fatigue from spending half a day on hold? Gone!
      Awkward angle for my web cam during teleconferences? Gone!

      I started out only standing for a 5-10 minutes at a time, but now I stand for up to an hour or more depending on the task. Since the desk moves at the touch of a button (and relatively quietly, too), I can easily adjust positions in mid-project/meeting/whatever.

    8. abby*

      A few of us have adjustable desks that can be used while standing or sitting. They are not very big and you set them on top of your existing desk. People use them on regular desks and in cubicles. They adjust to variable height, so it works best for you. No motors, all adjustments are manual, so not very noisy. The desks themselves are very heavy and many employees needed help getting them on top of their regular desks. But the weight provides stability.

      I can fit a monitor, an open laptop (second monitor), wired keyboard, and wireless mouse on mine, and still have room to write on a piece of paper. I have not had any trouble with cables, but did need to make sure that my cables were long enough and not caught on anything when in the “up” position.

      Now, I stand most of the day. When I first started standing, in late January, I was so tired and hungry. I’ve since adjusted and certain things that were concerning to me, like creeping blood pressure, have normalized. My appetite is back to normal, I don’t get the afternoon slump any more, and I feel like I work faster.

      1. StorkStand*

        Thanks for the review, Frisbee! I’m Mike from StorkStand. We know it can be tricky when it comes to convincing your employer to buy standing desks for the office. That’s why we aim to offer a really simple, affordable standing desk that requires no assembly and doesn’t take up valuable room on your traditional desk. StorkStand also works really nicely as a portable podium for group presentations or client meetings. Feel free to shoot us an questions at ‘’. We love hearing from the health-conscious community! Thanks! Mike

    9. Al Lo*

      I have an Ikea-hacked standing desk, so no option to raise or lower, and I have a high stool (with a back) to sit at when I need to. I typically spend about half my day standing and half sitting (and I also have a good-quality gel floor mat).

  13. AW*

    There was a study recently that suggested that walking for 5 minutes each hour is sufficient to negate the negative effects of sitting for long periods. I’ll post a link if I can find it again but if for some reason you can’t get a standing/treadmill desk, take brief walking breaks each hour to break up your sitting.

    1. AW*

      Boom, found it:

      The researchers were able to demonstrate that during a three-hour period, the flow-mediated dilation, or the expansion of the arteries as a result of increased blood flow, of the main artery in the legs was impaired by as much as 50 percent after just one hour. The study participants who walked for 5 minutes each hour of sitting saw their arterial function stay the same — it did not drop throughout the three-hour period. Thosar says it is likely that the increase in muscle activity and blood flow accounts for this.

      It’s a ridiculously small study though: only 11 men aged 20 – 35.

      1. SystemsLady*

        I think there may have been more studies to a similar end (might’ve had the more general conclusion that the amount of *consecutive* time spent sitting matters more than total amount of time spent sitting in a day). I’ll have to look tonight.

      2. fposte*

        The other question is whether that means long-term problems are mitigated this way or not. It’s a promising indicator, but it’s not enough to mean you’ve mitigated the drawbacks of sitting just because your blood flow is restored.

    2. SystemsLady*

      Yup, and most activity bands these days run on that assumption – my Vivofit tells me when I need to take my quick walk if I’m inactive for an hour and increases the amount of walking needed to clear the red bar the more you ignore it.

      Though I think they base it off of steps and not time active, not sure.

      Anyway my point is an activity band might be a cheaper personal investment that accomplishes similar goals if you’re not given the opportunity to get a standing desk. (And you don’t already have one that tsk-tsks you for sitting too long)

  14. Wordum*

    OP, I’m curious, have you tried these sorts of desks out yourself, long term? You don’t mention it so I’m thinking not. I’m in a workplace where things like this don’t particularly raise an eyebrow, so I know people who have tried it out – and not all of them have actually liked it and stuck with it. Since you’re new I’d hesitate to make this a priority unless you really *know* it improves your quality of life enough that it’s worth possible negative consequences.

    Also some of those consequences might not be what you expect. E.g. it’s a bit different to stand in your own office, or one small shared one, versus towering over a sea of people in an open plan. So accommodating this might mean sitting somewhere away from the rest of your team or similar.

    I feel like at this stage when it’s completely hypothetical there’s just a few too many unknown variables to make it worth turning into a big Thing. Unless you really really know this works for you, in which case you can use it as a filter and/or put up with any problems caused with grace.

    (While we’re on this sort of topic, on my personal wishlist is a small, private space I could use for stretches for 5-10 minutes at a time, where I’m not risking waving my windmilling arms into someone’s face/looking like I’m trying to attract their attention/feeling like my bum is inappropriately stuck in the air for the office. The bathroom does noooot count because I am not doing push ups and whatever on that floor. So I regularly wave my arms around and do strange exercises in the kitchen, and it’s no big deal really, but I hate that I feel sneaky about it. Not that anyone does more than grin and commiserate if they catch me mid stretch, but it doesn’t feel quite right when people want to chat and make coffee and whatever).

    1. Us, Too*

      I’d second this. I thought this was a feature I’d love to use until I actually had it. I NEVER use it. And almost nobody else in our (super trendy, otherwise healthy-ish) office use.

    2. BRR*

      That’s a good point about a standing desk if it’s a cube farm or something. I would feel very awkward being the only one standing.

      1. Us, Too*

        It’s also very LOUD when someone uses the standing feature because in our cube farm the walls aren’t very high so when you stand up, every sound you make can be heard above the cube walls. If you are on a call, or mumbling to yourself, or humming or typing – EVERYONE hears it. :/

        1. LQ*

          It’s so strange to hear that people have really loud sit stands, but ours aren’t motor powered so that must be the difference. The only thing I hear when someone shifts is a quiet shuffling of feet when it is nice and quiet.

          1. Us, Too*

            Yes, ours are motorized and allow a huge range of height adjustment. I’m sure they cost a fortune, but the motor makes it something I’m not likely to use because it’s so disruptive. I don’t even like to take a PHONE CALL at my desk because our work environment is so quiet. I can hear someone engage that desk motor from 5 aisles away. :/

            The other issue is that the cube walls aren’t tall enough to provide sound proofing for someone who is standing. As soon as someone stands, you can hear everything they say or do because the walls of the cube only protect against sound for seated staff members.

            1. The IT Manager*

              As soon as someone stands, you can hear everything they say or do

              My old office solved that differential by making the cubical walls so low that you could hear everything whether people were sitting or standing. :)

      2. LQ*

        Agreed. I know people at my cube farm who have sit/stand desks but don’t stand because no one else does. On the other hand in areas where a lot of people are standing, people use them significantly more.

        Peer pressure doesn’t have to be direct, and you can think you are super immune, but watching people who stood all the time move to sections where no one stands and they stop? We are all susceptible.

    3. Anony-moose*

      Oh man, I’d love a yoga room. How great would it be to do a bit more than just stretch discretely? When my back hurts I need some real stretching but I”m not going to do that in my cube!

      1. Wordum*

        Seriously that is the single measure that would improve my office time the most. With kitchens or empty meeting rooms I can never quite be sure no one’s going to walk in at an awkward moment. I’ve developed a good line of SFW stretches though that do what I need to most of the time :) But I dream of being able to do like some squats and push ups part way through the morning.

        We actually do have a gym but I don’t really want the monthly subscription just to use a mat. I wonder if I could ask them if it would be okay… they might be sympathetic.

          1. Wordum*

            I think the other 50 people in my office might be a bit miffed if I did that, and I’d probably have to fake a fire alarm to get them all out at the same time :)

            Meeting rooms are booked solid and mostly see-able into anyway.

            Basically my company is bursting at the seams and privacy is hard to find within the building. So it’s pretty much a dedicated space or no space.

      2. MaryMary*

        OldJob had a sick room/nursing mother room on each floor. There were a couple times I ducked into an empty room and did yoga for 10-15 minutes. Once I had a headache that was so bad I couldn’t drive myself home. 15 minutes of deep breathing and stretching calmed the pain enough for me to finish out the day and get myself home.

    4. Us, Too*

      My office has “FitChimp” stations in various parts of the office that you can do mini-workouts at. It’s a nice mat, some smallish hand weights, and an ipad to provide guidance/suggestions. The idea is to encourage a few minutes of exercise between tasks/meetings that you can do in your normal work attire usually and that isn’t going to be disruptive to your day in a negative way. You may ask your company to look into it. It’s not very intrusive compared to adding a full gym at work. :)

    5. OP*

      Yeah, I totally get where you’re coming from. No, I haven’t used a standing desk long term, but during the periods where I’ve been working full time at a (sitting) desk job, I’ve had way more consistent headaches and backaches, not to mention suffering from constant sleepy sluggishness – versus times like now, where I’m in school full time, and I’m only sitting for a couple hours per day in class. The rest of the time I’m walking between classes, walking to get home, walking to run errands, etc., and I don’t have these issues nearly as much.

      The attachment that I want will let you switch back and forth between standing and sitting to use your computer, so it doesn’t have to be a full-time standing desk.

      1. Us, Too*

        It’s really different in a cubicle environment, though. I’m not a “sitter” at home, but can’t imagine standing at my standing desk at work due to the issues I mention in other parts of the comments thread. Before you buy anything, you should get a lay of the land in your workspace. It may dictate what will work best in your situation. :)

        1. BRR*

          Also keep in mind standing in work shoes versus your normal shoes. Same reason I don’t always take the stairs.

      2. Wordum*

        Oof, that sucks.

        Given what you’ve said though I don’t know if I would go for a standing desk until you’re in the job and can feel out how it would be received. (You can of course try to aim for companies you think will be cool on this, ask about the office space, etc).

        Not that I think standing desks ought to be a last resort or anything like that, but until you try a bunch of stuff, you won’t be able to isolate the problem with any certainty, and IMO the costs of insisting on a standing desk in particular aren’t worth it at this stage when you don’t even know 1) what those costs will be exactly or even 2) that it’ll work for you. For all you know standing all day will leave you feeling much the same but with sore feet too!

        Of course you know your own body best and if you have a good sense that standing will work for you then go for it. (I may be biased because I’m 90% sure I would hate it, and I’ve had a brief go on a couple).

        Just in case, tips for sitting desks:
        * Most important if you’re sitting for long periods of time is to set up your work station correctly – the right height, angles etc. I’m not an expert but there are guides available out there. Small changes in the position of your legs, back and arms can make a huge difference, especially if you’re describing headaches and backaches. Something as simple as a footrest can make all the difference between a neutral posture and one that’s stressful on your body.
        * Take regular breaks to move around
        * Take regular stretching breaks
        * Try to train yourself out of hunching forwards (I’m awful at this)

        Between making drinks, bathroom breaks, lunch, getting up to talk to people or go to meetings etc I doubt I’m in my seat without a break for more than half an hour at a time. Of course jobs and companies and so on vary, there are jobs where you’ve got to keep your bum in the seat for whatever reason (legit or not) which I know I wouldn’t be able to cope with. But often short breaks are just fine.

        Really it’s a combination of factors. Getting the right kit is one piece of the puzzle but so are the right habits and the right role for you. Unfortunately you can only really work it out through trial and error! Crossing my fingers that you’ll find something that works for you :)

      3. fposte*

        I think asking for that makes more sense than a treadmill desk if you haven’t had a chance to try a treadmill desk out for at least a workday’s length. Even if you’re paying for the desk, that’s a fair bit of disruption for an experiment that can go either way.

    6. Chris*

      I agree with this. My company will buy a convertible sit/standing unit for anyone who requests it. While I now stand 100% of the time when I’m at my desk (I’m in enough meetings where I usually have long breaks from standing), there are a number of people who never or rarely raise their desk to standing level. Now the company has a loaner one folks can use for a couple of months to make sure they really want one.

  15. FJ*

    Once you’re at the company – If the cost is a concern, you can also suggest that the company buy you a keyboard/mouse stand and a monitor stand. Some standing desk options are really expensive. I have a keyboard stand and tiltable monitor mount that totaled only $100 or so. I keep the keyboard stand under my desk and pull it out when I want to stand up.

  16. MaryMary*

    Keep in mind there may be liability concerns from an employer perspective. If you were to trip and topple off the treadmill, or if your standing desk is missing a bolt and collapses on your leg, it would be a workplace accident. Of course, if your rolly desk chair loses a wheel, that’s also a workplace accident, but from a risk perspective employers are far more concerned with anything new.

    I also used to work at an office where there were strict rules around changing/moving desks or office equipment. The employees who responsible for moving and installing everything had a union contract that detailed out exactly who could do what. There may be constraints around you installing any equipmenet at your desk, even if you’ve paid for it yourself.

    1. Hlyssande*

      My rolly chair tears the hemlines off my pants or skirts if I’m not careful. I think I’d rather it lose a wheel.

      1. MaryMary*

        My friend managed an employee whose chair self-destructed one day. Not only did the seat break, but a couple of the wheels went airborne. The employee who sat on the chair was slightly injured (and deeply embarrassed), but it’s a miracle no one got smacked in the head with a chair wheel.

  17. Dana*

    Another negative for my open office plan environment! The cube walls are very short, and if someone got a standing desk, we would all see their head and shoulders easily, probably more. I would love one, as I’m sure I am taking year off my life sitting at my desk for 8+ hours per day, but there’s just no way it would work here.

    1. Chris*

      I don’t really understand why this is a problem. There are a lot of reasons to hate on open office plan in my mind, but ours is open and it doesn’t prevent about 25% of the cubicle dwellers from having a standing desk. Who cares if people can see your head and shoulders? Honestly, just curious.

      1. Jamie*

        I think it could take getting used to. Not saying it would be a big deal or people shouldn’t adapt, but if I’m sitting in a cubicle and the person next to me is standing I think it would kind of feel like someone peeping over a bathroom stall at first.

        I’m sure after people got used to it it would be fine.

  18. Joey*

    leave out that you’d like one to help with staying awake/alert. Id worry that you might struggle with that in a normal desk.

  19. Olivia*

    I have an Ergotron sit/stand that I purchased myself several months after I started in my current position. I certainly wouldn’t bring it up in an interview (particularly for an entry-level position), and I think a treadmill desk is really a bridge too far for any place that isn’t a cutting edge tech firm or a super health-conscious company.

    Plus a treadmill desk would be incredibly distracting, and I have my own office, and am a fan of them in theory. But my office has an open door policy, and there are cubes outside my door-I’m sure the sound and movement of a treadmill would be very distracting for the people who sit outside of my office.

  20. Sherri*

    First off, skip the treadmill desk. I used to read while walking on a treadmill at lunch and I’m absolutely sure I wasn’t reading as fast as I normally do. I didn’t really care about that, because the point at the time was some light exercise and getting any reading in was a bonus. I’ve also read about one study that showed a higher error rate (typos) while using a treadmill desk. Perhaps others have different experiences, but don’t ask for one unless you’ve tried it and are sure your productivity won’t be hurt.

    Standing options are a whole different story, and you don’t need to purchase an entire office set up to do it. You can rig something to elevate a laptop, for instance, that can sit on any regular cube surface.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      I made a comment to a running club friend about reading on my Kindle while running on my regular treadmill. (It works because you can blow up the text.) She said that there are studies that show reading comprehension decreases with treadmill activity. Not a big deal when reading a fun book, but like you say, you wouldn’t want your treadmilling impacting your work productivity or accuracy.

      1. Jamie*

        Am I the only person in the world way too uncoordinated to read/type while on a treadmill without killing myself?

        I split my eye brow open by accidentally smacking myself in the face with a remote…trying to work on a treadmill would be a fast trip to ER for sure.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          Nope! I’ve tried it on a static bike and an elliptical trainer, and I had to exercise reeeeaaaaallllly slowly to feel stable. Like, if I rode my real bike that slowly, I’d fall off instantly. AND I couldn’t really focus on what I was reading. So it was detrimental to both the exercise and the reading component.

          The under-desk pedal thing looks kinda interesting. I already cycle ~12km most days, so it wouldn’t really work any different muscles for me, which might put me off. I wonder if I can persuade my office to buy one for everyone to share, so it’s not such a commitment. Hmmmm.

  21. Retail Lifer*

    I’m in the first job I’ve ever had where I get to spend any time at all at a desk (about 25 out of 40 hours) and I HATE it. I’m used to being on my feet all day and sitting down so much had made me gain weight and has worsened my back problems. A standing desk wouldn’t work in our office area, as our desks aren’t regular desks; they’re basically like countertops connected to cubicle walls, and it would be a lot of time and expense to remove it. I couldn’t afford one anyway, but I’m job hunting and if it’s ever an option, I want one! Sitting all day is not working for me at all.

    1. Dana*

      I went from a high-energy food service environment to an all-day sit-fest and it’s the worst :(

      1. Kelly L.*

        I never realized how much walking I did at my old office job until I got this office job, which is similar except for one little thing–there’s a mail service here. At the old one, I had to go to the mailroom 2x a day to get the mail and bring it back. The mailroom was across a courtyard and across a street. It’s amazing how significant that turned out to be.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          I gained quite a bit of weight my first year working in an office instead of a lab. I hadn’t realised how much exercise I was getting while doing lab work until I stopped! Add in the fact that there were suddenly snacks around (verboten in a lab), and it was bad news for my waistline…

    2. Stan*

      You may have already looked into this, but some cubicle desktops are connected to the walls in a way that allows then to be adjusted up or down a few inches. Think notches like you find in retail shelving. My first job had this set up and bumping the desktop down one peg made all the difference in the world.

    3. Me too*

      Yes. This. I worked retail, which meant running around all day. It got old. But I never imagined I’d gain so much weight transitioning to office work!

  22. EmilyG*

    Since there is, AFAIK, a big price difference between a treadmill desk and a standing desk, you could also use that as a part of your negotiation, i.e. you’d like a treadmill desk but you’d compromise on a standing desk.

    We have some people in my workplace who have standing desks now, but a doctor’s note was required, which I think is silly but not my call. I wonder if there is any condition for which a treadmill desk is actually *needed* rather than just better? I’m not sure we could get a treadmill desk approved here. On a similar note, I have an ergonomic keyboard and mouse, but those were easy to get approved because they were even cheaper than the standing desk and we could purchase them from a vendor we already use for other office supplies. I’m not sure that should matter, but it did.

  23. LizDC*

    Figuring out the office culture is key here! If you have the opportunity to do an office tour, pay attention to decorations/personalization of individual desks.

    This would be a non-starter at my company. We’re very health-conscious (gym in the building, gluten-free /diet-flavor-of-the-month food served at our staff meetings), but we’re more so image-conscious. I had asked to bring in my exercise ball (which I paid for and use at home) to sit on in lieu of a traditional office chair. The decision was that an exercise ball would mess up the esthetic of the office and my exercise ball would be penultimate of unprofessional – the only bigger offense would be tchotchkes on desks, which are also frowned upon.

    If anyone in the office was client-facing, I could better understand the position. But we only have larger client events 1-2x per year and no other direct interaction. While I can live the decision (more squats after work for me! ) it gave me an interesting insight into the office culture.

    1. Retail Lifer*

      We weren’t allowed to do exercise balls either. We were told they looked unprofessional. The two of us that wanted to use our own are hidden behind cube walls and no one that came into the office would even see what we were sitting on, but it was still a no go.

    2. Nina*

      That’s disappointing that they wouldn’t let you use the exercise ball. I feel like that’s a happy medium in a situation like this; you’re not trapped in a regular desk chair, and it’s not as visually jarring as a standing desk/treadmill might be.

      1. fposte*

        I’m one of the many people in my building who’ve tried one and given it up; I’ve also seen research suggesting it doesn’t actually strengthen the core as hoped.

        However, it might make people a little more mobile as they sit, which could be an advantage too. And of course, it’s often a matter of taste, too.

        1. Nina*

          Oh, I’m sure it doesn’t work for everyone, but since some bosses are leery of fitness-related desks and chairs, an exercise ball can at least serve as some sort of chair.

    3. Hlyssande*

      My experiences with exercise-ball-as-chair is that it’s really hard to turn and stand from them without the ball rolling out of the cube. In addition to that, there’s a definite possibility of falling backwards off of it.

      At one point my old supervisor tried a balance chair that was pretty much an exercise ball on a rolling base with a small back support. Link to something similar in comment below.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I bought an inflatable chair-top thingy after someone suggested it on a previous AAM thread. It gives you some of the benefits of an exercise ball, but is more acceptable to office managers! I like it – it’s not super comfy for more than about an hour at a time, but when I use it for a full hour I can feel it in my abs the next day (a tiny little bit – it’s not like a full workout!).

      2. land of oaks*

        we all had these as chairs at one place i worked, they were very stable and comfortable, and i had much better posture on them than i have ever had in a normal chair.

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      I was slouching on my exercise ball earlier today, and need to use it more. Since it was a prize in the company sponsored health something or other, they didn’t feel they could tell me to not use it. I’ve found it to be completely stable, a little awkward when I need to get on and off of it. The only danger is the tackweed I might bring in on my shoes after a walk, so I check those carefully. I would hate for it to pop and dump me!

  24. Cass*

    Another producer at my station did a show with a researcher on this topic…after going so in-depth, the producer stands for all our meetings now. It must have been some convincing research!

    1. Cass*

      To clarify – the show was on the effects of sitting for extended periods, not asking for special equipment.

  25. squids*

    Does anyone in the public sector have one of these? I’d be interested, but honestly I’d also like a better chair and that hasn’t happened.

    1. The IT Manager*

      I work for a federal agency. We moved offices a year ago and I discovered one desk (out of about the 50 in our open floorplan/low cubical height area) had an standing desk. I was disappointed becuase if I had known it was an option I might have asked for it myself. I don;t know if this person had a standing desk in his old office, and we were getting brand new furniture in the move.

      Also we all have very nice (ie ergonic) chairs so “they” do seem to care about our health. I have no problems with my chair at work. My chair at home is another story.

    2. the_scientist*

      Canadian public sector employee here! 90% of my floor has a standing desk. Our cubes and desks are large enough that you can raise a portion of the desk to standing height while also having a desk chair and seated-height desk option. That way you can sit and stand as you see fit. I started in February and am in the process of getting my desk adjusted now, so it’s definitely not an overnight thing but I work in health and health care, so obviously an extremely health conscious environment!

      We have no treadmill desks though, and honestly I don’t think that would be an option here. We are in cubicles and the noise would be disruptive. Plus the potential for a workplace injury is just too high.

    3. Nerdling*

      We don’t have them here, but I would love one. There is precedent for us getting our own stability ball chairs, which I’m considering.

      1. Nerdling*

        I’ll also say that, being in one of our newest spaces, standing desks are not part of the possibilities when it comes to new office furniture. We have standardized layouts based on office size, meant to minimize our building footprints, and there’s no place in our collaborative work environment for taller desks. They weren’t an option in any of the potential layouts that headquarters let people try and vote on a couple of years ago.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      I’ve never seen or heard of anyone having one. Although, I do believe Donald Rumsfeld only ever stood to read things.

    5. Case of the Mondays*

      My husband is a fed and he has had ergonomic work ups and had a convertible cubicle (sitting to standing and back) at his last agency. He doesn’t have one at his current agency but I’m pretty sure he could get one. When I worked for the state, I had a hard enough time getting an up to date desk chair. I’m pretty sure I would have personally had to pay for any upgrade.

    6. Sunshine Brite*

      County. We have flex space so it is super nice to have adjustable options in both the chairs and desks as far as height, etc. They go from sitting to standing and they go low enough for petite employees and up through tall. They are still super nice because they’re still converting spaces from non-open to open spaces.

    7. LCL*

      Another group that works at our facility has adjustable standing desks, and they like them. Their desks are shared, so adjustable is a great idea.
      I could have one, but I would have to clean up my office first and that is too much work. Much easier for me to get up and walk around every hour.
      For squids, if you are a public sector employee, someone in your agency is in charge of facilities. Call them yourself directly and ask what kind of chair is available. I was that manager who kept the crummy chairs because I didn’t know how to get new ones. Or, if your agency has a surplus office, go by there and pick something up. That’s what we do for some remote installations, because it is less bureaucracy so quicker.

    8. abby*

      Our office houses several county employees, and one of them was the first one to purchase a variable stand/sit desk. I do not know if he purchased it himself, or if the county paid for it, but it’s in his office and sitting on top of his old metal desk.

    9. LQ*

      State government here and a lot of people have them. No dr notes required. They do have a couple of “test” stations you can work from for a week or two to see if they are really for you. They don’t like installing them then taking them out.

  26. WalkAbout*

    I rigged up something to basically make my desk a standing desk. And I’m looking into getting small peddles that you can put under your desk and peddle while still sitting.

  27. Amber Rose*

    It is also totally possible to not sit all day. I technically have a sit on my butt job, but I find excuses to get up and take a walk every 10-15 minutes. You can also do exercises at your desk: hovering over your chair, stretching, etc.

    I agree changing up your desk is great, but if you have to wait, there are still things you can do.

    1. fposte*

      You can’t do those and type at the same time, though, so that’s at the expense of productivity. That’s the presumable advantage of the standing/treadmill desks–you’re working at the same time.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Not too many people type for 8 straight hours though, or have productivity seriously reduced by 15 seconds of stretching in between emails.

        1. fposte*

          Between every email? That would be a hell of a reduction for me. And your initial comment was about taking a walk every 10-15 minutes–that’s a lot of break time.

          Sure, you can do a few things, but ultimately it’s rare that you’d be able to engage in similarly useful activity without seriously damaging productivity.

          1. Amber Rose*

            I don’t email much. For those who do, maybe every 5-10 emails.

            I can stretch my legs and type at the same time just by keeping my feet off the floor. My back pain is significantly less since I started doing that.

            1. Wordum*

              I do that! And I lift my legs to be parallel to the floor for a few seconds at a time in meetings.

          2. cv*

            I tend to get up and move around a lot in an office environment, and it’s not “breaks” or long interruptions. Things like getting up and walking the 30 feet to get something off the printer, going to the kitchen a couple of doors down to refill my water bottle, putting a folder back in the filing cabinet across the room, walking over to put something in someone’s inbox or to get a signature, etc. I don’t plan it out consciously as a way to take a break or move around, but I just find myself moving around regularly and get restless otherwise. It really depends on the office layout and the type of work you’re doing, though.

          3. QAT Contractor*

            Taking a walk every 10-15 minutes is a lot of lost work time. Figure an 8 hour work day (not including actual breaks or lunch time) and a total of 5 minutes of walking and a break every 15 minutes. That would be 15 minutes off every hour which works out to 2 hours a day.

            This is equivalent to the amount of time that smokers I have worked with waste each day just having their fix every hour. Unless extra time is put in to make up for the 2 hours of breaks these activities are a huge drop in productivity.

            Also, how could you possibly focus on getting anything large done in 10-15 minute intervals? Most likely we are not in the same professional field of work of course, but there is no way I could even begin to consider 10-15 minutes enough time to dig into anything and get any progress.

      2. Joey*

        the problem is productivity slows the more tasks you try to complete simultaneously. Here’s a simple exercise to test it. For one minute type the alphabet as many times as you can while sitting still. Then move over to the treadmill and try to maintain a jog and do the typing exercise gain. I guarantee you both your pace and your typing speed will suffer compared to if you did them separately.

    2. Kelly L.*

      I try to find these excuses too. There’s the restroom, of course, which I legitimately need every few hours because I drink a lot of fluids. I fill the Keurig reservoir a lot, from the filtered water dispenser a couple of wings away. We lost our department copier to budget cuts, so now I have to/get to go make copies upstairs. I’m not sure if it’s enough for science, but it does make me feel better.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Even just talking to someone in person instead of calling them can help you get up and move.

        My back problems are a lot less severe just with these minor changes. My physiotherapist told me my back hurt because my leg muscles were locked up, so just moving your legs more is huge.

  28. Meg Murry*

    When one of my coworkers was considering asking for a standing desk, she started with a low-commitment setup that I thought was smart. She already had a laptop, and a countertop height filing cabinet next to her desk – so she got a bluetooth keyboard and mouse to use on the countertop, and put the laptop on a stack of books. That way all she has to do to switch back and forth is take a step to the left and lift up her laptop and vice versa to sit back down. That is an option to consider if you are assigned a laptop that wouldn’t require much specialized equipment or financial commitment.

    1. BadPlanning*

      My setup is very similar — I normally dock my laptop and use a separate keyboard/mouse/monitor. I put my dock/laptop on a couple reams of paper and when I stand, I use just the laptop (I’m short!). I can easily swap between standing and sitting. Standing while using the laptop isn’t super great hand/arm wise, but our floor has the barest of cushion, so my feet/knees get sore anyway (and if work isn’t buy me an anti-fatigue mat anytime soon either).

      The weirdest thing about standing is that when I hit a tricky spot in what I’m working on, I feel like I need to sit down to really think on it. As if I can’t properly get my thinking cap on while standing.

  29. Dana*

    Hah, on a side note, I’m totally getting ads for desks in the corner :) No standing ones yet…

  30. Jessie*

    Something you could probably ask about in interview or offer stage is about if the organization has any ergonomics programms in place through their Health & Safety or HD departments if it’s when you’re chatting with the recruiter about benefits in general.

    This could give you a sense on if the organization promotes, and/or provides this time of equipment already.

  31. Steven*

    As someone with ADHD and a propensity for pacing, I have this feeling that I might just ~wander~ away if I had a standing desk. A treadmill desk on the other hand might actually be perfect.

  32. Glorified Plumber*

    Very interesting, I think OP is going to find that the ability to get a sit stand is pretty hit or miss.

    I work for a large engineering firm onsite for another large client. We can get sit stands, but it requires literally a doctors note and ergonomic evaluation. Originally, just any note would do from a doctor, but they’ve clamped down on them and the note has to be specific to some sort of ailment.

    I’d say about 10% of people ended up with sit stands.

    Then of course, there is the other path for getting one, and that is absconding with someones old sit stand.

    We had a spare sit stand, super nice, 34″ x 70″, and we were going to have to return it to the client if we couldn’t find a use for it. They came to me because none of the PM’s were around (naturally), and I went to every person who I thought might want one (basically the old people :)) and one by one they said no (sit stands out here force you to lose a lot of cabinet space and drawer space, and our piping designers are packrats who cannot live without their middens), until finally I was literally the last person available.

    So I took it, no doctors note, nothing, and now I have a 34×70 sit stand and it is awesome. No doctors note. All the people who were on vacation or not around are super jelly.

    So anyways, OP, the spectrum of who gets sit stands is HUGE. Start work… see what everyone else has… and then make the requests. I would wait until you are COMFORTABLE at work. That could be a week in a relaxed office, that could be 10 years… who knows. I would wait as long as necessary until you feel comfortable asking and being told NO, however long that takes!

    FYI, I’ve never seen a treadmill desk. I figure those only exist in mythical tech companies as a novelty.

  33. OHCFO*

    I’m a strong proponent of the “prove yourself first, ask later” strategy. Unless, as Alison writes, it’s a dealbreaker. Asking in the interview pegs you as high maintenance and at this phase in your career, you probably don’t have the professional pedigree to offset that. You can consider asking questions about workplace wellness initiatives–which may include perks and/or programs that may meet your needs in a different way. For instance, my office has an active weekday walking club. Take 8 lunch-time walks per month and you get a $25 contribution to a health reimbursement account.

  34. cv*

    I got a portable, adjustable-height laptop stand for my office (I’m a grad student, using my own laptop and configuring my own work space), and I go through phases of using it more or less. It’s a nice option, and spending the $40 on Amazon has given me a better sense of whether I’d ever want to have a “real” sit-stand desk. OP might consider something similar, and asking to use it may get less pushback in many offices than asking for a full setup.

    The other thing I’d mention is that I had kind of a negative reaction to OP’s phrasing of “I strongly believe that sitting for 8+ hours a day is bad for your health.” Any time you’re talking about health in the work place, be it diet or exercise or which medications to take for what ailment, I think it’s better to frame it in the first person as “this is what works for me,” or “I feel better/am more productive/have fewer problems with x health condition when I stand for some portion of the day.” When you start citing studies that say we should all be standing or eating more kale or whatever it’s too easy to lapse into preachiness or to make the person you’re talking to feel like you’re judging them or like you’re going to start lobbying management to make everyone stand for their own good, even if that’s not the case.

  35. Julie*

    My firm is investigating this now as more and more people ask. The current policy is that you can bring one and use it but they won’t buy one. We’re even more health conscious now so we’ve started calling other large firms and clients in our metro to see their policies. That’s a good starting point if you think that will go your way.

    I work across the hall in my building from an office suite for a large west coast/midwest aviation company. They’re a mix of open office concept and windowed offices and every desk is convertible. They’ve added tall cube backs to every space to you aren’t creeping on them, window tinting so outsiders can’t see in when the screen is raised, and they offer top of the line chairs so those that choose to sit are still ergonomic.

  36. Lisa*

    Not exactly related to the question but this has been my experience with these types of desks. My company brought in about a dozen of those treadmill desks, about a year ago now. They were set up in various locations around the building, and had a sign up sheet for each one where the employee could reserve them by the hour. At first they were a huge hit, the sheet would be booked days, weeks in advance. As time went by the interest in them died down, they were like a fad that ran its course. Most of them just sit unused now. They are big and noisy as well, not just the machine, but the clomp clomp of the persons feet on the belt. I tried one myself and it was not my cup of tea, suffice to say I do not think my office will be replacning our cubes with treadmill desks anytime soon

  37. Chris*

    I’m a huge fan of the standing desk, but I have a hard time believing that a treadmill desk wouldn’t create distracting noise. Even if the treadmill itself was quiet, I think I would find the sound of the individual’s footfall distracting. Anyone have experience otherwise?

  38. Jamie*

    I know there are proven health issues with sitting too long, but if you google standing too long people have issues as well. People who stand (as opposed to walking) for shifts have circulation issues, foot and leg problems, etc.

    Superfast on google it seems that the key is movement and ideally one shouldn’t be in the same position for long periods of time without change.

    I just scanned the Time article and not the studies in depth because I will admit I am lazy and there is no way I’m standing while trying to work. I get up and walk around, I stretch and crack my back, all that but my productivity would drop to zero if I had to type on my feet because my brain would be screaming in protest and my inner voice demanding I find a freaking chair.

  39. Barney Stinson*

    Please, whatever you do: do what AAM suggests and wait for a bit before you ask. I knew a guy who started a new job and immediately asked for a new chair and a new file cabinet and ordered them even though it was clear the new employer was reluctant and giving him loads of side-eye.

    It was all downhill from there.

    Another thing: employers might be reluctant to let you get your own equipment/furniture because the employer is responsible for things like repetitive stress injury from an OSHA/work related injury viewpoint, even if you’re working at home or buying the equipment/furniture yourself. If they’re not sure what the effect of the new equipment will be, they may be reluctant.

  40. Amy*

    I work in a pretty conservative workplace, but a new hire asked for a standing desk and actually got one! SO they opened it up for others who were interested.

    They purchased these:

    It’s less than $150 and sits on top of an existing desk (so cheap enough to buy and put together yourself easily.) And for times when I just want to sit down, I just pull my monitor back off of it and sit like normal.

    We were all surprised how easy it was for management to say yes to this. I guess it’s becoming such a well-known thing that sitting all day is bad. There is hope!

  41. Artemesia*

    My experience is limited but it has always been my impression that the time to get anything you want is at hiring — waiting until you are there awhile is less rather than more likely to get you a special desk or other accommodation.

  42. Rebecca*

    I’m curious how the coordination part works with a treadmill desk. I am not the most graceful person on the planet, nor could I walk 20+ miles per day, which is what you’d do if you worked 8 hours a day, even walking at a slow pace. How do you poke around in spreadsheets while you’re walking? I tried to text and walk the other day, and it was a disaster. I would have appeared drunk, I’m sure, to anyone who drove by. Is this something you do for a short time and then go sit down? I have so many questions!

  43. SFheart*

    I know someone who works in a very conservative office environment, and on his own volition rigged a standing desk with boxes, well before this became more of a “thing.” His colleagues were doubters and thought he was weird. To stop the questions, he told them he had a bad back. Anyway, after proving his commitment to standing all day and after the boxes started sagging, he requested a proper standing Veridesk that he would pay for. His boss took him aside and told him he’d buy it for him along with a cushion mat, but he had to tell everyone he paid for it himself. When everyone saw what a cool gadget the Veridesk is, the standing desk started to spread, presumably on their own dime. Sometimes it takes one person to change the culture.

  44. Student*

    I admit I’m not exactly a fitness person, but every treadmill I’ve used made a high pitched, obnoxious sound. Are there any treadmills quite enough that your co-workers wouldn’t storm your office or cube with pitchforks and WD-40?

    Just thinking about trying to type or read while on a treadmill makes me seasick, too. Standing desks I can understand, but I don’t think I could bear a treadmill desk. Maybe if someone invents an elliptical desk I’ll try it.

  45. TheOtherJennifer*

    I don’t expect that an entry level staff accountant anywhere is going to receive this kind of accommodation right out of the gate.

  46. Purr purr purr*

    If it helps OP, we asked for standing desks at our work and were told the cost was prohibitive. The desks usually cost more than $1,000. I managed to find an attachment, e.g. Varidesk, that raises the screen, keyboard, etc for about $200 so we got to keep the old desks and it would be much cheaper for the company. The company went for it. Maybe you could consider those as an option too.

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