Jun 04, 2023
Best Standing Desks
Adjustable desks vary in their controls, ease of assembly, and height range. And if you’re under 5 feet, 3 inches tall, options are limited. When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may
Adjustable desks vary in their controls, ease of assembly, and height range. And if you’re under 5 feet, 3 inches tall, options are limited.
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A standing desk could be the best upgrade for your home office. Having used one almost daily for the past seven years, I can say without hesitation that my standing desk is vital to my productivity and well-being. It’s one of the best furniture purchases I’ve made.
In its tests of six standing desks, Consumer Reports found that the biggest differences are in how low a desk can go (important for us short-statured folks), ease of assembly, and controls.
Except for the Ikea Bekant standing desk, all the models we evaluated have a memory feature that can automatically adjust the desks to the heights you set. We also looked at two desks with interval timers that prompt users to switch positions. These can all be useful features, but some controllers were much simpler to use than others.
A standing desk won’t magically fix poor posture or help you lose weight, but it can offer health benefits.
“The primary ergonomic benefit of a standing desk (also called a sit-stand desk) is the ability to move throughout the day,” says Dana Keester, an ergonomics expert in CR’s Consumer Experience & Usability Research group, who led our evaluation. “Incorporating regular movement and postural changes throughout the day increases blood circulation and allows you to activate different muscle groups.”
You can even use a standing desk with some treadmills and exercise bikes.
While you’re sitting, a height-adjustable standing desk can also provide a more ergonomic and comfortable work surface than many fixed-height desks, which are too high for shorter users. Just like with a great office chair, adjustability is critical.
Other than the Ikea Bekant, all the desks we evaluated included a collision-avoidance feature, which is supposed to make the desktop retract if it collides with something. Our interest in this feature was sparked when a desk with collision avoidance pressed down on one participant’s lap hard enough to be painful and make the desk tilt back on its rear legs. He had to scramble to find the right button to raise the desk back up and relieve the pressure.
We didn’t score the desks on this feature, but we did spend time in the lab investigating how it works. The desks exerted anywhere from about 40 pounds to 80 pounds of force before retracting, depending on the model and the procedure we used in each of the trials we ran. Several desks have controls that are supposed to let you adjust the sensitivity. We tested the desks using the maximum sensitivity available.
One other note on safety: We declined to evaluate certain models we bought because they used an exposed driveshaft to raise and lower the desktop. If you’re shopping online, desks that use a driveshaft will usually say they have a single motor. But it’s often not clear whether the driveshaft is covered to prevent shoelaces, a child’s fingers, fabric from a skirt, or anything else from getting caught as it rotates. Desks with two motors, one on each side of the desk, don’t need a driveshaft.
Ashita Kapoor, CR’s associate director for product safety says: “After installation and assembly of your standing desk, if you notice any exposed components, make sure no obstacles are in the desk’s path.” As with all electric height-adjustable desks, you want to make sure children and pets are away from it during operation.
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