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How to Choose a Standing Desk

Standing desks, also known as sit-stand desks or height-adjustable desks, allow users to switch between sitting and standing positions while at work. From improved posture and reduced back pain, to an increase in focus and productivity levels, the benefits of standing desks have been well documented, and it's no wonder more of us are looking to invest in one. 

However, because there are so many options available, choosing the right standing desk can be a daunting and difficult task. The good news is that we're here to help!

In this comprehensive guide, we share the key factors you should consider when choosing a standing desk, as well as the top questions you should ask yourself to narrow down your selections, starting with determining the best type of desk for you.

1. Electric, Pneumatic or Manual

There are several different types of standing desks, but the biggest difference between types is whether they are electric, pneumatic or manual. In other words, the method by which the desk adjusts. 

  • Electric desks have a motor that powers the desk at the touch of a button. A single motor desk tends to be able to hold up to 80kg of weight, whereas a dual motor desk has a higher weight limit. 
  • Pneumatic desks use gas cylinders powered by a lever to adjust the height, similar to an adjustable office chair. 
  • Manual desks are adjusted using a hand-operated crank or lever. You turn the crank in one direction to raise or lower the top. 

Electric desks tend to be quieter and easier to use, but manual desks are more affordable and don't require power to use. Learn more about the key differences between electric and manual standing desks here.

2. Depth & Width

The average desk width is 48 to 72 inches, and the average depth is between 20 and 30 inches. However, there isn’t one right answer as to how wide or deep a desk should be. Consider how much space you have, and what you will be using the desk for, before you make a decision on size.

Don't forget to consider what you want to keep on your desk and how you want to position it. In general, if you have a full-size desk mat, keyboard and monitor (or just like to spread out), you will need a deeper desk than those with just a laptop.

3. Weight

On a similar note, each standing desk has a weight limit which determines how much you can store on top of your desk before it will start to struggle to adjust in height. If you exceed the recommended limits, it may damage the motor, and in very rare cases, your desk might collapse under the weight.

Standing desks can typically hold a maximum of 80 kg to 160 kg in weight which is more than enough to hold your standard desk setup (laptop, keyboard, mouse). However, additional desk accessories, such as a monitor, laptop stand, printer and lamp can significantly increase the load. 

Determine what you want to store on your desk before you make a decision, and choose a desk that accommodates this load.

4. Height Range

How much height range does your ideal desk have? If you’re taller or shorter than average, then you need to make sure the desk adjusts to a height that is comfortable for you.

Whether you're standing up or sitting down, your desk should be at a height that allows your elbows to rest at your sides while typing, with your forearms parallel to the ground. Your monitor(s) should also be at eye level, so you don't need to look up or down at your screen. 

Additional accessories, such as a laptop stand or monitor arms, can help to lift the screen up to the recommended height and position if it's not possible with your desk.  

If multiple people are sharing the sit-stand desk then it’s best to find a desk with a large range, to accommodate for all heights and requirements.

5. Construction & Materials

The construction and materials used for a standing desk play a crucial role in its durability, stability, and overall performance.

Steel frames are well-known for being robust and stable, which makes them suitable for heavy-duty and long-term use. Aluminium frames are another good option, offering a lighter alternative to steel that still provides a strong and stable base. 

As well as the frame itself, you need to consider the desktop materials. Solid wood, laminate and melamine faced chipboard (MFC) tend to be the most popular choices.

6. Design & Aesthetics

The design of the standing desk should compliment the overall aesthetic of your workspace, so choose a desk finish and colour that goes with your existing colour palette and furniture. In addition, consider the material and finish of any additional features, such as your port hole covers.

On a similar note, consider how you can enhance the function and organisation of your desk through storage solutions, shelves or a cable management system.  After all, a cluttered and chaotic desk will hinder your work environment, rather than help it. 

Need additional help with the aesthetics of your standing desk? Read our full guide on How to Make Your Standing Desk Look Better.

Got a gaming setup? Consider adding RGB lighting to enhance your sessions.

7. Price

Investing in a quality standing desk is a worthwhile long-term investment in your health, but it’s important that you set a budget and research standing desks within your price range. 

On a similar note, while it might be tempting to opt for the cheapest option available, it's essential to balance cost with quality and features.

If you need additional equipment or accessories, such as monitor arms, cable management systems or an anti-fatigue standing desk mat, make sure you include these within your budget.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Standing Desk

To narrow down your options and make an informed decision, you should ask yourself:

  • Will it be just you using the desk, or will other people benefit, such as your colleagues, partner or children?
  • What is your budget for a standing desk, including any accessories?
  • How much space do your realistically have available? Will this desk fit in that space? Will a desk chair fit under the desk when it's lowered? 
  • What is the weight capacity of the desk? Can it hold everything you need?
  • What is the noise level of the desk during height adjustments? Does it matter if the desk is loud? 
  • How easy is it to adjust the height? Does it have a height memory function?
  • Does it have built-in power outlets or USB ports?
  • Do you require additional storage options, such as drawers or shelves?
  • Do you need additional accessories, such as a laptop stand, cable management system or standing desk mat?
  • Will your standing desk be in one place, or do you need one that you can move around an office on wheels, for example?
  • Does the desk materials and design match your desired aesthetic? Are you able to customise the colour or desk top? 
  • How easy is it to assemble the desk, and does it come with clear instructions?
  • Is there a trial period or return policy in case the desk does not meet your expectations?

If you're requesting a standing desk at work, find out your company's existing policies regarding workspace accommodations and wellness initiatives first, as you could be eligible for a desk as a reasonable adjustment. 

Regardless of what standing desk you choose, we hope this article has helped you come to the right decision for your specific space and needs. Need additional help choosing a standing desk? Get in contact with our expert team with any queries. 
Looking for a standing desk for your home, office or workspace? Check out our full collection of standing desks, available for next working day delivery if ordered by 3pm. Our desks come with a 7 year warranty, 30 day risk free return, as well as access to a UK-based customer service team to answer any questions that you might have. Otherwise, our blog provides more useful tips on using a standing desk for a more balanced lifestyle. Feel free to contact us with any questions, with the handy live chat feature on our site, or via email at info@ergodesks.co.uk.