If you’ve never purchased a stationary office desk before, consider yourself lucky; the process can be an exercise in frustration. No matter how much research you do ahead of time, there’s simply no way to know how comfortable — or how cramped — a given desk may be until you try it out yourself. And in order to do that, somebody (probably you) needs to assemble an unwieldy desk in your office. This can be a daunting task. Call me crazy, but there are only so many hours of blood, sweat, and tears a person can put into a 300-pound Wayfair purchase before Consumer Stockholm Syndrome inevitably sets in.
Standing vs. sitting
As a freelance writer, I’ve never felt truly comfortable behind any of my post-collegiate desks. Turns out, I’ve been using the wrong kind of desk my entire life; standing and sit-stand desks are far healthier for my lanky frame. (I suffered from mild scoliosis as a teenager, and am susceptible to lower back pain as an adult; most desk chairs make me fidgety, too.)
Having an elbow-height desk that you can simply walk away from (as opposed to standing up and down) is a real game-changer, and it allows you to multitask without the usual leg/back stiffness that accompanies long bouts of computer activity. When you feel like sitting, a standing desk also lets you adjust your office chair to your body, and then adjust the desk height to the chair (in that order) — down to the last centimeter. The end result? Endlessly customizable comfort, no matter your body type.
A word on the aforementioned comfort, though. When standing in place for long periods of time, the soles of your feet will eventually get sore. It’s simply inevitable. Some companies sell anti-fatigue mats to complement their standing desks, but you can forgo such padding with a well-placed rug and the proper footwear. (Such as athletic sandals.)
Editor’s note: As a 180-pound, 6-foot-3-inch 30-something with two ACL replacements in my left knee, sitting for long bouts of time is an uphill battle; I’m always more comfortable on my feet. I also underwent a 70-pound weight-loss transformation in my late 20s, and am well-attuned to the lifestyle changes that helped me get there. Transitioning from sedentary to sit-stand habits was pivotal in helping me drop the weight — and keep it off.
- Our top picks for the best business laptops
- Upgrade to the best gaming laptop (for every budget)
- Make some space for the best gaming monitors
What are the best standing desks?
If you’re looking for the best standing desk around, take a gander at the Fully Jarvis Bamboo Standing Desk. Thanks to multiple customization options, eco-friendly build materials, and sturdy construction, this electric powerhouse is one solid investment.
Got less money to spend? The Flexispot Electric Height Adjustable Standing Desk (EN1B+R4830B) also earned an Editor’s Choice award in our recent review. Granted, this desk doesn’t achieve the same whiz-bang effect as Fully Jarvis’ hardwood options, but Flexispot helps keep holistic health at the forefront of your workday.
You can’t go wrong with an ApexDesk Elite Series 60 standing desk, either. The spacious, customizable desktop remains stable at all heights, and its scratch-resistant laminate coating keeps things clean. (Both literally and figuratively.)
The best standing desks you can buy today
Whether you’re commuting into an office or working from home, a standing desk is a game-changer. But the Fully Jarvis Bamboo Standing Desk takes things to another level. This desk is made from sustainable materials that lend a sophisticated air; the dual motors are quiet, and switching between heights is a quick, seamless process. Best of all, it can support up to 350 pounds. That means you can load up your workspace with all the goodies.
Speaking of which, Fully Jarvis’ customization options can quickly bump the price up to an exorbitant amount. But if you have a power drill and some patience, this allows you to build your ideal desk piece by piece. Overall, if you’re looking for the best standing desk that looks great and offers tons of functionality, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than the Fully Jarvis Standing Desk.
See our full Fully Jarvis Bamboo Standing Desk review.
Working from home sure is en vogue (and in many cases required) these days, but not every home is conducive to work. That all changes when you’ve got a standing desk behind...err, in front of you. The Flexispot Electric Height Adjustable Standing Desk Review (EN1B+R4830B) is more than just a standing desk: it’s the workstation you never knew you needed. If you’re looking for a customizable tabletop that supports a healthier lifestyle, Flexispot has you covered.
No matter your height or build, the Flexispot Electric Height Adjustable Standing Desk is an attractive, rock-solid workstation that’s as customizable as your imagination will allow. And when it comes to desktop options, if you can dream it, you can build it. (Within reason, of course. Each desk frame has a weight limit of 154 lbs to 275 lbs, depending on the model.) These workstations come in all shapes and sizes, so measure your home office dimensions before buying.
Just like the other standing desks on this list, the ApexDesk Elite Series 60-inch ups the ante for your office aesthetics. This contoured workspace provides more than enough room for all your 9-to-5 business essentials, and you can choose from a variety of beautiful desktop finishes (black, white, walnut, light oak) to match the surrounding decor.
The dual-motor lift system is as speedy as it is quiet, allowing you to raise the desk anywhere from 29 to 48 inches high. (The optional 6-button control panel also allows for 4 customizable preset heights.) The desk is made from a single slab of industrial-grade steel, and its medium density fiberboard (MDF) desktop is coated with an anti-scratch, high-pressure laminate. The end result? A super-stable surface that’s easy on the eyes, and even easier to clean.
UpLift has been around for a while (since 2002, to be precise), so you might be familiar with this brand already. That’s because they manufacture some of the top-selling Chinese-made office products on the market today. (Also, advertising.)
With a variety of desktop sizes (42 inches to 80 inches long) and eye-catching finishes (bamboo, walnut, ash, mahogany, cherry) to choose from, the UpLift V2 really shines in the customization department. From the company website, you can essentially build the best standing desk from scratch, choosing your desktop size/style, frame type, wire grommets, and keypad. You can also upgrade your desk with myriad accessories, such as a standing mat, writing pad, surge protector, monitor arm, keyboard tray, and even an under-desk hammock(!) by using the 48 clever mounting points situated around the frame.
The Uplift V2 standing desk is the third generation in a line of higher-end workstations. The dual motors can handle an impressive 355-pound load capacity, and if you spring for the advanced keypad (a premium feature), you can add some useful height presets to the mix.
UpLift is known for inflated advertising claims, so take their marketing materials with a big grain of salt. (To that end, some reviewers reported questionable build quality, and hard-to-fact-check sustainability claims.) Nevertheless, the V2 has been recommended by publications like Wirecutter and Forbes, for what it’s worth. And I’d say it’s worth a look.
Note: As of this writing, many UpLift desks are on backorder at a variety of online retailers. Be sure to check availability before ordering.
Falling somewhere between sitting desk, sit-stand desk, and gym equipment, the Flexispot Deskcise Pro V9B is essentially an exercise bike with an adjustable tabletop attached to the front. While the jury is still out on how much of an impact standing desks can have on one’s overall health, Flexispot takes their sit-stand-move concept a giant leap further with the Deskcise Pro V9 desk-bike hybrid. For those who put in a lot of screen time (for work or play), such an investment could have a lasting impact on your long-term health.
The underlying principle is pretty simple: sedentary stuff — like watching TV, web browsing, or checking emails — becomes instantly active when you throw an exercise bike into the mix. With eight resistance levels to choose from, you can take multitasking to another stratosphere; the built-in LED display (powered by two AA batteries) keeps track of time, speed, calories burned, RPM, and distance/total distance. (This is ideal for weight loss, by the way, which is all about the math.)
The 23 x 16.5-inch desktop is fully adjustable between 34.5 and 47.2 inches high and can be moved forward or backward as well. The bike seat’s height adjusts between 29.6 and 37.2 inches, which is designed for users between 5-foot-1 inch and 6-foot-2 inches tall, which is ironic since many back pain-sufferers are most certainly taller than that. The seat could be more comfortable, but that’s a quick fix.
We’re not the only ones who like this contraption, by the way. It was a 2018 honoree in the CES Innovation Awards. Stay tuned for our full review of this desk-bike.
How to choose the best standing desk for you
Standing desks come in all shapes and sizes, but there are a few things to consider before clicking “add to cart.”
Types of standing desks
- Electric - This is the style of standing desk we recommend the most. Electronic controls activate small motors to adjust the height of your workspace at the touch of a button. With all the different shapes and sizes to choose from, these workstations are fully adaptable to your office needs. Or carpentry shop needs. (Heck, veterinarians could use one of these as an adjustable operating table for small animals.)
- Manual adjusting - This kind of standing desk is adjusted via manual controls (ie, knobs and levers); they’ll do in a pinch, but there are more practical options available these days (if you have the money to spend).
- Standalone frames - These expandable frames can be attached to virtually any surface you please, and are a godsend for any DIY workshop. They come in various sizes and weight capacities.
- Standing desk converters - These tabletop frames let you convert your existing desk into a sit-stand desk — minimal assembly required.
Readydesk 2 - It’s simple, functional, and reminiscent of traditional Japanese joinery. Oh, and it’ll convert any desk into a standing two-monitor setup in no time flat.
VariDesk Pro Plus 36 - Add some ergonomic elegance to your office with this two-tier standing desk converter. Its spacious design gives you enough room to fit two monitors, a laptop, external keyboard, mouse, and more.
Desk frame size (and weight capacity)
This part is pretty obvious, but don’t buy a desk that won’t fit in the room you bought it for. Also, be sure to consider what you’ll be storing on the desk long-term; the desk frame’s size and build should be dependent on your specific needs, and some standing desk frames are flimsier than others. For example, some desks are only designed to hold around 50 pounds, while others can handle upwards of 500 pounds.
Height adjustability and ergonomics
Before you buy, make sure the dimensions of your new standing desk align with the dimensions of your own body. Desktops are often adjustable between 21 and 56 inches; your monitor should be at eye level, and your elbows at your sides. (Forearms at a slightly downward angle.) In short, organic comfort is key.
Bells and whistles
- Programmable settings - In addition to up/down controls, more advanced keypads offer preset height buttons, too. You’ll feel like a starship captain when your tech rises to meet you at the push of a button. The future is now.
- Unique desktop options - From bamboo to birch, there are tons of desktop options to choose from when purchasing a standing desk. If you get a standalone frame, though, you can install whatever workstation surface you like. (Pressure-treated cherry, anyone?)
- Gaming accessories/attachments - Look for built-in speakers and monitor arms, mouse-friendly desktops, and more.
Reasons to get a standing/sit-stand desk
Why should you test-drive a standing desk? Well, working from home is more popular than ever, and the more time you spend hunched over a laptop keyboard with poor posture, the worse it is for your neck, spine, hips, and knees. (And psyche, probably.) From a holistic standpoint, an uncomfortable workstation can become a ticking time bomb for potential injury — both short- and long-term.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, back pain is the #1 cause of disability worldwide; half of all working Americans admit to back pain symptoms, accounting for more than 264 million lost work days each year. And according to TheGoodBody.com, 54% of Americans who experience lower back pain spend most of their office hours sitting down. At the end of the day, a standing-centric lifestyle is unequivocally healthier than hours of cramped, unhealthy posture.
If you’re concerned with unwanted weight gain in the time of COVID, standing and sit-stand desks may help combat obesity (to some degree); the human body burns more calories while standing up than it does sitting down.
Just remember, a standing desk is no substitute for proper fitness and nutrition; spending a little more time on your feet isn’t going to reverse the effects of a sedentary lifestyle overnight. For certain demographics, however — such as middle-aged folks with daily back pain — standing desks can be an excellent tool to improve one’s quality of life. Everyone has a fitness journey, and when it comes to professional productivity, an ergonomically sound workstation is a proverbial step in the right direction.
Many standing desks are designed not only with enhanced ergonomics, but also adjustable settings that let them slide into places most stationary desks can’t. Enhanced mobility is never a bad thing, to be sure, especially when it comes to your home office. The more dynamic (and/or cluttered) your workspace, the more you’re bound to appreciate a standing desk.
Oh yeah, and let’s talk about productivity. According to Flexispot, stand-capable workstations can boost your overall productivity by a whopping 46% (in comparison to sit-only desks), and send your energy levels through the roof. That's a bold claim, but not a surprising one. It’s harder to doze off in the middle of a Zoom meeting while standing upright, after all.