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How a Standing Desk Works

Not applying enough energy during the day may lead to a moderate decline in health and physical well-being. As more workers become overwhelmed with work and do not have enough time to set aside for workouts, technology is regularly being employed to make up for it.

From counting steps to innovative workout tools, more methods are being created every day. Whether you`re getting some work done, doing homework, or even playing games, the right desk will make all the difference. Standing desks are exactly what they sound like, desks that don`t need you to sit at them. The traditional desk sits just a few feet off the floor. This forces you to use a chair and sit. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with sitting. In fact, for tasks that need your highest level of focus and attention, sitting up straight in your chair is the right move. However, all that time spent sitting can be harmful to your health.

Before opting for a standing desk, many people are interested in knowing how a standing desk works and what are diverse types of standing desks available today. Stand-up desks are becoming increasingly popular because of rising studies on the poor effects of sitting for extended periods.

Whether you`re looking to increase your efficiency or health, adjustable standing height desks may aid you to keep on reading. Typically, stand–up desks may work with a touch screen or a button right on the desk itself. Although, the essential way in which every desk works depends on the type of standing desk you`re using.

Uses of a Standing Desk

A standing desk is designed to be used while standing up as it can be adjusted to different heights to find the perfect position for your needs. This means that the height of these desks is taller than the regular desks designed to be used for sitting. These desks have been around since the late 14th century but as more work rolled in, sitting while working became the norm to avoid fatigue among workers.

There are four major types of standing desks based on working components:

  1. Manual Standings Desks
  2. Standing Desks
  3. Adjustable Desks
  4. Adjustable Desk Converters

1. Manual Standing Desks 

They don`t have any electronic components or motors, instead, have a manual structure to adjust the desk`s height. Different manual standing desks come with different components for adjusting the desk. They range from adjusting the knob, crank, sit-stand, spring, or gas cylinder with your hand. Therefore, the adjustability process will vary depending on the manual standing desk type. These desks are the most common and most affordable type of standing desks.

There are five common types of manual adjustable desks:

a. Hand Crank Standing Desks
b. Sit-Stand Desks
c. Pneumatic Counterbalance Standing Desks
d. Spring Standing Desks

a. Hand Crank Standing Desks

These desks use a hand crank to adjust the height of the desk. This type of desk is quite simple to use. You only require turning the crank with your hand in either direction to raise or lower the table surface. There are some desk models with knobs rather than hand cranks, however they all work the same. The knob adjusts the desk`s legs and allows it to be modified in height.

The only obstacle of the hand crank standing desk is that they can be moderately slow to adjust, since you require to turn the crank a few times to move the desk up or down. But in general, they`re a great option if you`re looking for an affordable manual standing desk.

b. Sit-Stand Desks

Sit-Stand Desks encourage users to switch between a standing and sitting position throughout the day, decreasing the amount of time users spend in one position. This helps to decrease the strain on the body that can come with sitting prolonged periods. Additionally, it helps to reduce tiredness, improve circulation, and even engage mental alertness. Furthermore, users can also incorporate more physical activities into the day. For instance, an in-built treadmill so users can exercise while they work.

c. Counterbalance Standing Desk

The component of a counterbalance standing desk can either be pneumatic or spring-loaded. Pneumatic counterbalance standing desks use gas cylinders, whereas springs are used in spring-loaded counterbalance standing desks. The working concept for both these types of standing desks is similar, however, there are moderate differences between them:

d. Pneumatic Counterbalance Standing Desk

This type of counterbalance desk uses gas cylinders to adjust the height of the desk. On the pedestal of the desk, are the gas cylinders that allow you to adjust the desk with just a few pushes easily. To adjust the desk`s height, you need to engage the cylinder and by doing so, the pneumatic fluid or gas flows around the piston. This action then can either push or pull the piston, which in turn moves the desk up or down. They include two types:

  • Single-legged Pneumatic Counterbalance Desks: They have one gas cylinder and the way this desk works is that the gas cylinder produces adequate height adjustments, which are important when you want to adjust your desk from sitting to standing. The reason is when you engage the gas cylinders, they inflate with air and push the desk up.
  • Two-legged Pneumatic Counterbalance Desks: They have two gas cylinders, one for each leg of the desk. Unlike single-legged pneumatic counterbalance desks, this type of desk uses a connecting rod or cable between the two legs so that both gas cylinders can inflate simultaneously. This design is crucial to achieving a more balanced desk height adjustment. The benefit of these desks is that they`re usually faster to adjust than single-legged pneumatic counterbalance desks. That`s because you only require to engage one gas cylinder to adjust the height of both legs. However, they`re more costly than single-legged pneumatic counterbalance desks.

e. Spring Counterbalance Desk

They use springs to adjust the desk`s height. The working concept is simple as you engage the springs, they inflate and push the desk up. The amount of spring tension can be adjusted, so you can make the desk as simple or as challenging to change as you want.

One obstacle of spring counterbalance desks is that they can be a bit loud. That`s because the springs make a metal-on-metal loud noise as they inflate and deflate. But they`re a great alternative if you don`t mind the noise for a faster and easier height adjustment.

 2. Electric Sit-Stand Desks 

It is the most popular type of standing desk because it is simple to use and adjustable. It comes in a broad range of styles and price points. The motor changes the desk`s elevation for you, hence you can simply switch anytime from sitting to standing at the push of a button and vice versa. The height of electrically powered standing desks can be adjusted to suit different users. For instance, if you`re shorter or taller than average, you can adjust the desk to suit your height. They are also available in a range of styles. For instance, you can acquire desks with different-shaped tops such as L-shaped or U-shaped, different materials such as glass or wood, and different finishes such as black or white.

There are three types of electric adjustable desks:

a. Single-Motor Electric Stand Desk

Here, two sensors detect the number of rotations and direction of the motor. That information is sent to a control box which keeps track of desk height and adjustment speed. By pressing a button, you can make the desk automatically adjust to your desired height. You can also program different heights into the control box to have multiple options for sitting or standing at work with just one button push. The capacity of specific single-motor height adjustable desks can reach up to eighty kilograms, ensuring they are ideal for home offices and small businesses.

b. Dual-Motor Electric sit Stand Desk

It has two motors, one on each side of the desk. This type of desk is more costly than a single-motor desk, however, it has more advantages. The desk can be more stable when raising or lowering the height because there are two motors. This is especially essential if you plan to use a large monitor or laptop on your desk. Another benefit is that they usually have a higher weight capacity. This means that they can support more heavy items, such as printers or multiple monitors.

c. Smart Height Standing Desks

Smart height standing desks are designed with the competence to store two or more different heights. Subsequently, with just one push of a button, you can simply program the desk to raise or lower depending on your needs. All you require to do is press a button on this type of desk to set the perfect height you last set for yourself, making things easier for people who often switch between sitting and standing throughout the day. It has the capability to keep different pre-sets defined as per the user’s desire.

Not only are smart desks simple to adjust, but they also do not need you to keep track of changing heights, as a result, the desk does it for you. Therefore, they are perfect for offices where employees share desks. A smart height-adjustable desk can have either single or dual-motor electric sit-stand desks.

3. Adjustable Desks

They can be used by those working in the office or from home, as they accommodate multiple users with varying heights. They comprise a manual adjustable standing desk and an electric adjustable standing desk:

Manual adjustable desk has a lever that moves the top part higher or lower to suit the user. Although they are an affordable way to combine sitting and standing whilst working, they`re also tedious to use, and due to the time taken to wind them up and down, you may not get as much use out of it as you originally planned. Without the ability to clearly read the height from a display on the desk, it also makes it hard to correctly set it to your ideal height every time.

Electric adjustable desk Is an electric desk that has a built-in control pad to help you adjust height settings quickly. It has a strong motor-driven mechanism for easy adjustments at a touch of a button.

4. Desk Converters

Going with an adjustable desk converter may be the right choice for you if you already have a desk that you absolutely love. There are especially risers that you can place directly under your monitor and computer. They have space for your mouse, keyboard, and a few accessories. As you can imagine, these are the cheapest alternative in the market. This is because they need an existing desk to work. Some converters have electric motors that allow you to adjust the height with a button, whereas others need you to adjust the height manually.

These have quite a few challenges too. You don`t get to raise your whole desk, only a few necessities. This can be quite inconvenient. Furthermore, you still must hand crank them, depending on the model you choose this can be both tiresome and complex. You may have to pull your entire converter towards you as you stand up. Otherwise, you`ll have to lean over the desk to reach your keyboard.


When finding the most reliable type of standing desk, you can`t go wrong with any of the above options discussed. However, electric standing desks take away all the hassle of manually adjusting the height of your desk. Additionally, they`re usually much more stable than their manual counterparts and tend to be much quieter, therefore you won`t have to worry about disturbing your co-workers.

Adjustable desk converters are also a great alternative if you`re looking for a more affordable solution.

All the diverse types of standing desks are great options, and it really comes down to personal preference:

  • If you want a simple and dependable option, go for an electric sit-stand desk.
  • An adjustable standing desk converter is an excellent option if look for a cheaper solution.
  • If you don`t mind a little noise, a spring counterbalance desk might be the right choice.

Whichever option you choose, you can`t go wrong because all of them will help you stay healthy and productive at work.

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.

Date Published: June 30, 2023

Last Updated: February 26, 2024