Have you ever considered having a standing desk? Our avid reviewer, Sara Walker, puts the Pro Plus 36 Varidesk to the test. It’s designed to fit on top of an existing desk or table and transform it into a desk that you can either stand or sit at, so read on to discover how she got on with it!
As a freelance writer, much of my day is spent at a keyboard. I’m also a keen horse rider, and the legacy of a lifetime spent lifting bales of hay and feed sacks is that I frequently suffer from stiff back and neck muscles. As you can imagine, sitting down all day does little to help!
I use a laptop as my main work computer as I’m often out of the office for interviews or features and dislike having to switch between two machines. When I’m in the office, I use a wireless mouse and keyboard with the laptop. A couple of years ago, I noticed I was getting some quite severe neck pain and realised a probable cause was that I was looking down at my laptop screen as opposed to having it at eye height. A homemade fix of propping the computer on a pile of books helped a lot, but still meant that I was staying in the same position constantly.
When I was asked to try a Varidesk, which allows you to vary your position between sitting and standing throughout the day, I thought this could be a big help. Other benefits, according to the manufacturer, include reduced blood pressure, lowered cholesterol, reduced back pain and increased blood flow and circulation.
Apparently the Varidesk can also improve concentration by over 46% and helps you burn 50 calories an hour when you’re standing (great, that’s one two finger KitKat every two hours, then!). It’s also used by 92% of the Fortune 500. That’s a pretty impressive resume, and I was keen to see how it all worked.
The Pro Plus 36 Varidesk arrived promptly and fully assembled – you literally just have to lift it out of the box and put it on top of your desk.
My first surprise was when it came to lifting it out of the box, though – it weighed 22kg! I have a fairly small office space with a narrow desk, and my first worry was that the Varidesk would be too big and heavy for the space available. (I reviewed the 36-inch or medium model, a smaller one is available at 30 inches.)
It fitted surprising well onto my desk, and the whole thing seemed very sturdy and balanced so I decided to give it a go. It moves up and down with the use of handles at either side, and the action is smooth enough not to dislodge anything. It felt very strange standing up to type, and I found myself looking out of the window a lot more as I was now on the right level!
I’ve now been using the Varidesk for three weeks, and my back, neck and shoulders are definitely less sore at the end of the working day. I mostly use it in standing mode, although it is easy to change between the two.
Pro Plus 36 Varidesk: The good bits
From a positive point of view, I’ve definitely experienced a reduction in pain. I like the design of the product, too – the curved surfaces sort of cuddle around you, so you’ve got useful work surfaces at your right and left hand side for the mouse and a note pad.
You can also do simple exercises while you’re working, such as leg stretches.
Pro Plus 36 Varidesk: The not-so-good bits
This is a big, heavy unit. When you raise the desk up into a standing position, the keyboard shelf, which is cantilevered, swings out into the room so it does take up a lot of room when you’ve got it elevated.
I also think that the keyboard shelf and the upper shelf should move independently (they’re fixed at set distances), as when I had the screen at eye level the keyboard was too high. (I solved this by getting those books out again and raising the screen with those, so it wasn’t a major problem. Also, if I’d been using a proper monitor instead of a laptop I think this would have been less on an issue.)
The overall on the Pro Plus 36 Varidesk
I actually liked the Varidesk much more that I was expecting to. It’s available in black and white so should fit into any decor, and it’s a nice, clean design. Yes, it’s big and chunky but it does really work. If you do a lot of desk work and have any kind of pain, this should really help.
Prices for the Pro Plus 36 Varidesk start at £295 (the 36-inch model is priced at £365). It’s available to buy direct from Varidesk.
Reviewed by Sara Walker
(Disclosure: The product was supplied for the purposes of the review, but all views and opinions are honest and unbiased).5