My Continuous Improvement – Stand-up Desk

As I look for ways to improve, I am inspired by other lean thinkers and bloggers.  I see what they are trying and look to how that might work for me.  I try and experiment with things in order to make my job easier and to feel more in control and organized.

I decided to start a series that will be based on what I have tried in order to make my work better.  It may be small or large things and most likely it was an inspiration I got from someone else.  I hope that by passing along what I have learned that it may inspire others the way others have inspired me.

One idea that I have gotten from others like Jamie Flinchbaugh (here) and Kevin Meyer (here and here) is the stand-up desk.  I read about the benefits of a stand-up desk.  It is healthier.  It makes it easier to drive the ‘go and see’ behavior.  It makes you more accessible to your employees and so on.

When I was assigned to a manufacturing facility, I got myself a stand-up desk out in the middle of the production area I was working with.  It was great.  I could see what actually was happening at any time.  The employees liked having access to me without having to leave their production area.  People who came to see me to chat didn’t stay long because they didn’t like to stand, so I also became more productive.

Then I transitioned to our corporate office.  I am now working with more office environment processes.  After a couple of months of sitting in a chai I was going nuts.  I asked for a stand-up desk.  There was some crazy red-tape to get through but a couple of months ago I got it.  I have a nice sized cubicle, so I took a section and had it raised with the help of our ergonomic expert.

It isn’t pretty but it works very well.  I am able to get some of the antsy-ness out from spending so many years in manufacturing and walking on the floor.  I noticed more of my colleagues stopping by to ask questions.  More importantly, I got off my lazy can and now go seek out people to ask questions.  I don’t just pick up a phone and call people that are 50 feet away.  And finally, as you can see I can enjoy the nice view out the windows.  Even if it is the aluminum siding of another building.

I get some crazy looks and sometimes my cubicle neighbors can feel uncomfortable because they don’t know if they should be saying something to me.  I have even been used as a landmark.  “I sit in the cube next to the guy standing.  You can’t miss him.”  That might be because I am 6’2″.

I have enjoyed it and it shows that it can work in an office environment as well as a manufacturing environment.

Posted on June 15, 2011, in My Continuous Improvement and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I just went to a standup desk in my home office, following their lead too. I love it.

    Ergonomically, you might want to look into a laptop riser/stand to bring the height up a bit, so you don’t hunch over the laptop. You would need an external keyboard and mouse though, if you use something like this:

  2. Congratulations. I’m not sure what makes a stand-up desk “lean.” Perhaps it’s that lean thinkers are always thinking about improving their work, and willing to experiment. But I love it. Although, I don’t use it all the time. Sometimes, I just need to sit – it’s the old knees probably.

    • I’m not sure what makes the stand-up desk lean either. I have only seen it in the lean context so far. I have used it as an introduction to lean. People will stop and ask why I am standing. I will talk about not only the health benefits but also how it drives me to want to go and see the problems and work being done. I can then talk about the principle of Directly Observing Work.

  3. Nice post, Matt.

    The next time you’re in a pharmacy take note of the pharmacists and their work stations. You’ll probably see that they have standup desks, too. It doesn’t disrupt their work flow as does a sit down desk. They’re often constantly in motion and it makes sense for them. No chair to get in peoples’ way, either.

  4. I don’t think the whole “is is lean?” discussion adds much value, in this case or others. Does the desk help improve:

    Safety (yes, better ergonomics)
    Quality (the quality of your work through better energy levels?)
    Delivery (getting to the gemba more quickly?)
    Cost (Hmmmm… improving productivity?)
    Morale (using the stand up desk by your own choice)

    I think those are more important things to think about than lean dogma of whether a stand up desk is generally “lean” or not.

  5. We use stand up desks in some locations. In fact many of our meetings are now stand up meetings also. We learned that we actually think better on our feet. I don’t have a link to the study on this, but at the time it was very convincing and practice has proven it so.

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