Monitor arms for sit-stand desks

What is a sit-stand desk and why would I want one?

What is a sit-stand desk?

A sit-stand desk (also known as a standing desk, sit stand-up desk and height-adjustable desk) is, as you’ve probably already guessed, a desk that can be adjusted so you can use it both sitting or standing up. Adjustment is generally made either electronically at the touch of a button or manually, for example by turning a crank.

5 reasons to seriously consider switching to a sit-stand desk

Nowadays, we all know that working ergonomically is important. Not just to avoid work-related injuries, but for a number of other reasons, too. You may also have heard that the heart of an ergonomic workplace is the ‘golden triangle’ of a good quality, adjustable chair, an ergonomically efficient desk and a dynamic monitor arm. But did you know that more and more experts are taking the view that the only truly ergonomically efficient desk is a sit-stand desk?

Indeed, when researching our own Top-10 Tips for working ergonomically, which draw on a wide range of expert advice and research, it became clear that a sit-stand desk is now generally accepted as having a direct, positive ergonomic impact in several different ways:

  1. Sitting disease: medical research is increasingly finding a correlation between how long you spend sitting every day and your chances of falling victim to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even an earlier death. Canadian research, for example, found that people who sit behind a desk most of the day are 54% more likely to die of a heart attack than those who don’t. Hence the new medical term, ‘sitting disease’ 1.

    Scary thing is: neither exercise nor healthy eating compensate the effects of sitting disease. So what’s the single best way to address this problem for the millions whose job unavoidably involves working at a computer screen all day? You guessed it, a sit-stand desk — in combination with a dynamic monitor arm that will ensure you reap the full ergonomic benefits of your sit-stand desk.

  2. Energy boost: Aside from addressing more serious medical issues, the variation you get from standing at your desk after sitting for a while can give you that little physical and mental energy boost to help productivity and creativity.

  3. Productive work environment: In an open-plan office, having some people standing at their desk while others are sitting also creates a very dynamic work atmosphere that is potentially good for aspects of both organizational ergonomics, such as facilitating teamwork, and cognitive ergonomics, for example by enhancing people’s mental well-being by reinforcing that dynamic atmosphere, for example with a stylish monitor arm and elegant cable management solutions.

  4. Breaking away: It’s smart to build regular short breaks into your day, when you leave your desk for a minute, for example to grab a coffee or pop over to a colleague’s desk. Problem is, the first step is the hardest here, as we tend to get tunnel-focused on our work and forget to move. With a sit-stand desk, you’re regularly moving your position between sitting and standing, and as you do so, you break your concentration bubble for just long enough to remember to walk away for a minute before returning to your new position at your sit-stand desk.

  5. Using ergonomic products: As we shall see, a sit-stand desk is only really ergonomically effective if you use it in partnership with a dynamic monitor arm. Ideally also accompanied by other ergonomic products, such as an ergonomic keyboard and mouse, and smart cable management.

Exploding a myth: why there’s no such thing as an ergonomic sitting position

Your best ergonomic position is your next one

A common misconception when it comes to ergonomics is that there is one ergonomically optimal position for your body when you work at a desk: adjust your chair to the right height, shoulder position and knee angle; adjust your screen to the right height and distance from your face; place your ergonomic mouse, mouse mat and ergonomic keyboard at the optimal point on your desk top and Hey Presto! — you’re good to go. Wrong.

This is a dangerous misunderstanding because it plays into the hands of the biggest ergonomic enemy of them all: lack of movement. Which is why we have a saying here at Dataflex: ‘Your best ergonomic position is your next one’.

So what happens if I don’t move?

A quick bit of basic biology. Every human body is unique, but also all share common characteristics. One being the need for blood. The heart pumps blood around your body to bring it, amongst other places, to your muscles. The muscles convert the ‘fuel’ in this fresh blood (oxygen, iron, etc) into energy. But this process also produces waste products in the form of toxins, which are only released when you stop straining that muscle. And if you keep the muscle in a strained state for long enough, it causes muscular exhaustion, which in turn leads to a temporary hyperacidity that stops the detoxification process.

In sports like athletics, you immediately notice this build-up of toxins, as it causes a horrible pain in your muscles, which can then no longer perform properly. You don’t get this pain when sitting at your desk without moving, but by holding the same cramped position over long periods, your muscles are in a permanent state of so-called ‘static muscle tension’. This static muscle tension stops the through-flow of blood, creating a build-up of toxins that is, basically, not good for you.

Why a dynamic monitor arm is an unmissable part of the sit-stand solution

The double whammy effect of a sit-stand desk

Obviously using a sit-stand desk means you will be regularly moving between sitting and standing positions, which helps you avoid the dangers of static muscle tension. But equally crucially, when standing the position of all your body parts also changes. Your arms, for example, hang a bit more when you’re standing at a desk than when you’re sitting at one, which in turn subtly changes the position of your shoulders, neck, etc. Equally when you sit, you adopt positions, such as leaning back slightly in your chair, that you don’t when standing at a sit-stand desk (in this case, because you’d fall over if you did!). This means you need a dynamic monitor arm in order to be able to move your monitor each time to its new ideal position relative to your eyes, keyboard, mouse, etc.

And more good news. When you stand at a sit-stand desk, your body is constantly making very small movements. Your weight is now borne not by a chair but by your legs and feet, and you therefore without thinking regularly adjust your position very slightly to give different muscles a break. As a result, the small muscles in your feet, for example, are constantly being brought into action, then relaxed again. And these and other subtle adjustments to your body position, for example shifting your weight from one leg to the other, will again require regular slight adjustments to your monitor’s position. And that’s only possible with a dynamic monitor arm.

Why not having a dynamic monitor arm means you won’t use your sit-stand desk

On a more intuitive level, a sit-stand desk lets you listen to your body better, as you have the freedom to move when your body tells you it’s necessary. So you stand while you drink a coffee and scoot through your inbox. Or when you take a phone call, which in turn makes you more likely to wander a little from your desk as you talk — another little victory in the battle against sitting disease and related foes. Or when your neck or back feels tight, you can stand up, raise your sit-stand desk to the standing position, quickly adjust the position of your keyboard, mouse and monitor arm, and then carry on where you left off.

But we all know how it is: if you can’t adjust everything instantly, in practice you’re very quickly going to stop using the stand position. Now quickly moving your mouse and keyboard is obviously not a problem. But without a dynamic monitor arm, adjusting your monitor’s position is a task each time. A small task, sure, but very quickly it’s going to be a very big barrier to using your sit-stand desk in the dynamic way you’re meant to.

So in other words, a monitor arm is an intrinsic part of the sit-stand desk solution. With a dynamic monitor arm, you will use your sit-stand desk as intended and enjoy all the associated benefits. But without one, there’s a real danger you’ve spent money on a sit-stand desk that quickly ends up being a sit-sit desk. And for all the reasons we’ve seen in this article, that would be more than just a pity.

What should I look for in a monitor arm for my sit-stand desk?

Adjustability is the key

As we’ve seen, the main reason a sit-stand desk in combination with a dynamic monitor arm is the surest way to achieve the optimal ergonomic work day is because it enables you to constantly readjust not just your position between sitting and standing, but also how you stand at the table.

So the key criterion for a monitor arm is optimal adjustability. And to be able to change your position relative to your monitor screen as much as possible, you need a monitor arm that lets you adjust the height, angle and/or depth of your monitor arm.

Versatility is a bonus

But as our page Everything you need to know about monitor arms explains, a good monitor arm lets you do more than just adjust the monitor’s height, angle and depth. So when selecting your monitor arm, consider one that lets you switch from landscape to portrait to create a different perspective, or swivel your screen so you can show it to colleagues or move it out of direct sunlight.

4 more must-haves

In addition, you will want a monitor arm that is:
  • robust because you want to be able to keep adjusting it without it becoming wobbly or unresponsive after a while;
  • able to bear the weight of your current and any possible future monitor;
  • easy to assemble and disassemble, for potential office moves or reshuffles;
  • well-designed and looks good: you want a quality item that will complement your office look, not ruin it. Also look for neat functional design features, such as integrated cable management .

Learn more about these purchasing criteria and the benefits of a quality monitor arm.

Or go straight to our wide assortment of sit-stand desk-compatible monitor arms.