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What To Look For In A Sit-Stand Desk

26 July 2023

By now, everyone is at least somewhat aware of the dangers of sitting. In fact, sitting is considered to be just as bad for your health, if not worse, than smoking.

As more and more people become conscious of the fact that sitting can cause long-term problems, standing desks are also becoming popular.

However, most experts are of the belief that standing throughout the day isn't necessarily healthy either. In fact, the best option is to get a sit-stand desk that allows you to switch between sitting and standing during the day. This is because, with sit-stand desks, you get consistent movement throughout the day, rather than just staying in one position for a very long time.

But if you're trying to find one for your workspace, what features should you keep in mind?

Let's consider what to look for in a sit-stand desk.

Important Features of a Sit-Stand Desk

There are some key features of a sit-stand desk that you need to keep in mind when trying to get one for yourself. If you want to get the maximum benefit out of your desk, you need to make sure that your requirements regarding these features are fulfilled.

Height Adjustment

Height adjustment is pretty much a requirement for a sit-stand desk to be a sit-stand desk. After all, if it didn't have the option to adjust the height, it'd be either a sitting desk or a standing desk, but not both.

Height adjustment is very important because it is what brings you the most benefit from your desk. Not only does it allow you to switch between sitting and standing, it also allows you to correct your posture. This is because most desks and chairs - while they may be ergonomic - are not going to suit everyone perfectly. Minor, and even major, adjustments may be required to make sure that you're sitting correctly.

Good posture requires your feet to be on the ground, your back straight, your thighs parallel to the floor, and your arms pressed to your sides bent at a 90-degree angle at the elbow. None of this is possible if you're not using furniture that suits your body type and stature.

For most people, the average desk or chair wouldn't be able to fulfill all of these requirements, but with a sit-stand desk, you can adjust the height to whatever works for you. This way, you can make sure your posture is correct and thus avoid any problems related to it.

When considering height adjustment, you should also look at the range of adjustments the desk offers. Some desks go higher or lower (or both) than others, and you may need to check what height works for you when deciding which desk you want to buy.

Height (of the desk, as well as the user) is also affected by things like chair thickness, shoe thickness, the keyboard surface, the mats they may be placed on, etc. These should also be kept in mind when making the purchase.

Height Adjustment Method

Besides just the desk's height, you also need to consider the mechanisms with which your desk's height will be adjusted. The options are usually electric, pneumatic, or crank adjustment, with crank being the least recommended and electric being the best.

Crank adjustments are a lot more complicated and difficult, and have lesser accuracy when it comes to getting the right height.

Desktop Dimensions

Desk depth and width are also very important! Sometimes people get so focused on the height that they forget to consider how much space they actually need on top of the desk itself. Most desks offer about 30" in depth, with varying widths and this usually works for most users.

However, you should also consider your usage. Are you keeping your monitor on the desk? Are you going to use it with a laptop? What items will be on your desk at all times? Deciding how much space you need on your desk depends on how many things you'll be keeping there and what you'll be using it for.

Desks also come in many different shapes and sizes, from traditional rectangular desks to L-shaped ones. Depending on your requirements you can select one that works best for you.

Weight Capacity

Every desk has its own weight capacity - that is, how much you can put on the desktop without risking the desk getting damaged or broken. Sit-stand desks also have their own weight capacity but in this case you also have to consider lifting capacity - that is, how much can the desk lift when it's moving, and what weight it can hold at its maximum height without risking stability.

If your desk will mostly be used for things like paperwork or computer work, you don't need to pay much attention to this since most desks have a pretty decent weight capacity. But if you think you'll be keeping heavier items on it, such as a printer or scanner, you may want to check for weight.


Noise considerations usually only have to be made when the desk you're going for has an electric adjustment rather than a pneumatic or crank one. This is because electrically adjustable desks have small motors that move the desk up and down, and some of these can be somewhat loud.

The acceptable range of noise levels depends on where the desk will be used. For example, if it'll be kept at home, there's likely not much problem if it makes some noise since you'll be the only one hearing it, and it'll stop in a few seconds.

However, in shared office spaces when one person's adjustment could bother others, having a lower noise level becomes necessary. No desk will have very loud motors, but it'd be better to have some consideration for others when picking out your desk.

FlexiSpot's Comhar Standing Desk with Drawers, for example, has motors with very low noise levels so you don't have to worry about disturbing others while you move it up and down.

Adjustment Speed

Speed is often not as much of a problem, since most desks will only take a few seconds to a minute to move from one height to another. However, if you're particularly impatient, you may want a desk that has faster adjustment speed, and this could be a factor to keep in mind.

Programmable Heights

Not all desks offer programmable heights, but this can be a very useful feature for many. With programmable heights, you can input the heights that you work at the most (for example, a sitting height, a standing height, etc.) so that you don't have to fiddle around with the desk every time you want to switch between sitting and standing.

In fact, having to manually figure out the right height every time can be a pain, and a height programming option really helps. These are often not available in desks with crank adjustment, but most desks with electric motors, like FlexiSpot's Premium Standing Desk (E7), do come with a keypad for you to program your desired height level. Some will also allow you to input the height itself so that you can move it up and down without needing to keep your finger on the button.

Do You Need A Whole New Desk?

A sit-stand desk doesn't need to be an entirely new piece of furniture. While it would definitely be nice to have a desk that moves up and down on its own - from a convenience perspective as well as an aesthetic one - sometimes you can't actually just go and buy one.

Perhaps you already have a desk or don't have the space for one. In such cases, you can also opt for a standing desk converter, like FlexiSpot's AlcoveRiser Standing Desk Converter M7. These can be placed on top of the desk you already have, and manually adjusted for height depending on your requirements.

These are also relatively more convenient to use since you can move them around depending on where you're working. Standing desk converters are also much less expensive than dedicated desks, so if your budget is on the lower side, you may prefer buying a converter instead.

Keyboard Tray

You may also want to look for a desk with a keyboard tray for better ergonomics. Not all desks come with a keyboard tray because many are made to be used for all sorts of things and not just computer use. If a keyboard tray is important to you, you can look for a desk that does have one.

However, you can also find keyboard trays as attachments, such as FlexiSpot's Clamp-on Adjustable Keyboard Tray. This way, you can use your keyboard comfortably but don't have to go looking for a dedicated desk with a keyboard tray.

However, many standing desk converters, including FlexiSpot's also include keyboard trays so if you are opting for one of those, you may not need an extra attachment at all.

Sit-stand desks can be very helpful in minimizing the problems associated with sitting, but even here you have to make some considerations around how to use it comfortably. With these features in mind, you'll be able to make a much more informed decision.