OWNER'S MANUAL

Another Way to Keep Your Business From Killing You

Inc.com columnist Jeff Haden explains the office gear that keeps him healthier--and more productive.
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Hopefully you already know that sitting for long periods of time is really, really bad for you--no matter how much you exercise when you're not at work.

Eleven hours may sound like a lot, but add up all the time you spend at your desk, in your car, and on your couch. Odds are you're pretty close to 11 hours--and 40 percent more likely to die in the next three years. (Ain't that a pleasant thought.)

Clearly whoever invented sitting did not have our best interests at heart. The answer, of course, is to get off your rear as often as you can. But that's hard to do when you work at a desk. I'm definitely an 11 hour-plus guy, and any sentence that includes the words "you" and "are 40 percent more likely to die in the next three years" is guaranteed to get my attention, so I decided to do something about it.

So I got a treadmill desk. (You can read all about it here.) I like it. I use it. But sometimes I don't want to walk. Sometimes I don't want to grab my laptop, head over, and start walking. Sometimes it would be nice to be able to just stand up for a few minutes while I keep on working or talking or whatever.


Now I can. I started using an Ergotron WorkFit-P, a Star Trek-sounding name for a simple and elegant laptop platform that mounts on your desk. (If you use a desktop, Ergotron also makes a workstation with a keyboard platform. I have the laptop model.)

Setup takes, oh, maybe two minutes. You can drill a hole through your desk to attach it, but you can also attach it with a clamp. (That's what I do.) Then you just place your laptop on the platform and off you go. When you're sitting you can adjust the height so it's right for you. When you want to stand, just raise it up to the right height. It also shifts from side to side, so you can move around your desk, swivel it around to let other people see your screen. When you want to sit down, just lower it back to the right height.

It's particularly great for phone calls. I have this goofy habit of wanting to stand whenever I'm on the phone. (I have no idea why; that's just one more item on my never-ending list of eccentricities.) Even if you aren't quirky, deciding that you will make a habit of standing every time you're on the phone will automatically create some of the little non-sitting breaks we all need. And it won't be a bother--just raise the platform and your laptop goes with you.

Mine also works surprisingly well for presentations. It's awkward and distracts the audience when there's no podium and you need to bend or lean forward to see your laptop display. I took my platform (it only weighs about 20 pounds) to a venue where I knew there would only be a table provided, and my drive-by screen views looked seamless and natural.

The WorkFit is designed for Apple users. I think it would work with any laptop, but it does have an Apple-like look, so if you're into aesthetics don't worry: it looks like Apple designed it. (Which, at least to me, is pretty high praise.)

Does it replace my treadmill desk? No: The benefits of walking exceed the benefits of standing. I still use the treadmill desk. But since many people don't have offices large enough to accommodate a treadmill desk, a sit-stand workstation is a much less expensive way to get off your butt and keep working.

IMAGE: Shreyans Bhansali/Flickr
Last updated: Nov 15, 2013

JEFF HADEN | Columnist

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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