“To infinity and beyond!”
Shrieked Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story as he quickly morphed and soared into action with those folding wings on his back.
OK, that boring old desk isn't going anywhere in a hurry. But what if it could be adapted and made flexible enough to become a sit stand desk? It’s not as far fetched as it sounds.
Why you don't always need to replace your existing desk
Most people who decide they need the flexibility of a height adjustable desk will naturally assume that they need to buy a completely new desk and so get rid of their existing fixed desk.
Whilst this is normally the case, there is actually another way of looking at the situation. You could retain your existing desk and still gain the benefit of sit stand working.
What we’re talking of is adding to your desk to convert it from a static fixture to a moving top desk. And no you won’t need Buzz’s help, all that is involved is a bolt on goodie.
How an adaptor can transform a fixed desk to sit stand
Instead of starting over, what you can actually do is to keep your existing desk. It now becomes the bottom part of your moving desk set up. Then you would add a specialist adjustable workstation onto your desk and there are several to choose from.
First, you can add a clamp on type of unit incorporating a vertical riser that fastens to the rear of your desk. Typically this has a lower work surface that sits flush on your desk top when you’re sitting and is quickly raised by lifting it to the ideal height when standing to work.A good example of this is Humanscale’s QuickStand rear mounting clamp on workstation. This provides an adjustable lower work surface to hold keyboard and mouse with your monitor attaching to the top of the riser using the built in VESA mounts. Screen can be adjusted independently for correct viewing height and there’s also a double monitor version. The column is designed to conceal cables for a clean look. Ergotron offer similar solutions like its WorkFit-S, the main difference being that it clamps to the front of your desk. Rather than a work surface it has a tray for keyboard and mouse. This raises and lowers via its vertical support column to allow you to work sitting or standing. Screen attachment is by VESA mounts and there are various options for adding single and twin monitor arrangements, or even a laptop.
Second, you can add on a freestanding unit which you place on your existing desk’s top.
This usually has 2 movable work surfaces. The lower one is a reduced size worktop which would take your keyboard and mouse. The upper one is a lot smaller and is intended to take your monitor or maybe a laptop.Ergodesktop’s Kangaroo range sits on your existing desk top surface without the need for any clamps or fixings. Its workstation simply rests on top of your existing desk as a unit and includes a stabilizer leg. It has a shaped lower worktop which is 28” wide by 17” deep for your keyboard, mouse and maybe other small items. Side shelves can be added for extra space.
Monitors can either sit on a top shelf or use the industry standard mounting points on the back of the screen.
So are normal height adjustable desks redundant?
On the face of it, it all looks great and seems to rule out the need to ever go to the expense of a completely new desk. In the right circumstances these add on units make perfect sense as long as you recognize their limitations.
A rear mounted clamp on convertor like QuickStand, offers a little more flexibility as it has a larger adjustable work surface. Even so, once you've added keyboard, mouse and notepad the movable work area doesn't have much extra space.
In the case of a front mounted unit shelf space is very limited in size and really only intended for keyboard and mouse. There is a small add on shelf option it’s very limited in size. Also bear in mind that once fitted this adaptor becomes a part of your desk and isn't intended to be removed. It does however let you both sit and stand at your work.
With the freestanding unit you need to realize that the top size is a lot smaller than your overall desktop. Consequently you need to carefully consider whether you can get everything you want on this smaller footprint of the adjustable section of this hybrid desk.
Are there any other unforeseen limitations?
With all of these options you need to pay close attention to the weight of the equipment you plan to use with them, as there are restrictions to what they can physically support. This applies to both monitor weight as well as the load capacity the adjustable work surface/keyboard mouse tray will support. So be careful before just jumping in.
Summarizing how converting your desk might be possible:
- You can retain your fixed desk and adapt it
- Option 1 is a clamp on vertical unit with keyboard/mouse tray and monitor mount
- Option 2 is adding a freestanding adjustable desk to the top of it
- Carefully consider the way you work to see if it’s suited to these adaptors
- Recognize there are weight limits on what these units will support
Once you’ve considered all your options you may well be able to experience the flexibility of that Toy Story moment and adapt your existing desk for sit stand use.