Working from home certainly has its advantages: good coffee, pajamas all day, the freedom to set the thermostat at will. However, if you sit hunched over a small desk and tap your colleagues from your laptop, you may not notice the minutes that pass, but your back and neck will surely do. Regardless of whether you are new to work from home or are already used to it due to the recent corporate changes caused by the novel corona virus, you may easily forget to get up from this chair during the day.
I have been a full-time employee in the distance for some time, but before I switched to work clothes with comfort motifs, I had a desk in the main office of my company that could be moved up to a standing height. I scoffed at the idea of needing a similar desk as soon as I wanted to work from home, but I was a fool to think I had what it takes to get up and move every hour. Since then I've been looking for the perfect standing desk. However, nothing has reached both my selection and my budget.
That is, until the day I tried to pull my dog out of my bookshelf again (her favorite thing is to scale him as if it were Mount Everest), and I realized that I all had the perfect standing desk along. With a little finesse my hunt was finally over.
What follows are the steps to make a standing desk from a bookshelf based on my own experience.
: Choose the right bookshelf.
The purpose of a standing desk is to get you out of your chair and relieve your neck and back. It is important to choose a bookshelf that brings the keyboard and screen close to shoulder height. I already owned Target's 60-inch Loring 4 Shelf Trestle bookcase, so I used it.
Note that there are a number of factors to consider. For example, the bookshelf should have a shelf near shoulder height and should have enough space to comfortably accommodate an open laptop. And it's probably best to use an open-back bookcase so you can snake the cables behind your technology.
Step 2: Deleting the shelves
Removing everything from the shelf makes it easier for you to move it around and reorganize everything to make room for your new desk configuration.
Step 3: Place the bookshelf in a well-lit place near an electrical outlet.
Ultimately, you want to put the bookshelf in a place with lots of light and close to an outlet for your technology. I'm a bit of an accidental minimalist, which just meant moving the bookshelf in my office from wall to wall without having to worry about moving furniture. But don't overestimate your own strength – ask someone for help if you need it. A standing desk is not of much help if you put a strain on your back.
Step 4: Plug in the cables before inserting anything again.
Take it off me, plug in your chargers and other cables and snake them on. Behind the bookshelf, it is much easier when the bookshelf is empty – as opposed to trying to get behind all the stacked books and things to work.
If your bookcase doesn't have an open back, you can drill a hole through which the cables must pass. For a less permanent solution, the best way to do this is to place your electronics near the end of the shelf closest to the electrical outlet and attach a cable clip to hold the wire in place. Even if you have an open case, a cable clip can help keep things in place after you inevitably switch back to sitting.
Step 5: Think about what you need while storing your books.
I took the time to reassess the objects that I kept on my bookshelf. Did I really need the storage container, which was really just a garbage drawer in a blue-green panel? The seven-year-old laptop, which I refuse to part with for sentimental reasons, could also be moved to another location. The books were brought back to their house one shelf lower than before, still held generously by my loose coin jar. I also set my camera lenses so that I can easily grab them when inspiration comes up (read: dog photos).
Step 6: Create a desk area
My work laptop, the associated mouse, a coaster, a microfiber cloth for cleaning stains and a cheerful plant were given the coveted space on the top shelf. If your bookcase is wider than mine, I recommend adding a second monitor or USB-C hub if you need one. The desk doesn't have to be the top shelf. Simply use the shelf that is at the right height for you.
Step 7 (optional): Create a throne for your pet.
To satisfy my dog's strange obsession with my bookshelf, I converted the bottom shelf into their own private oasis. She is happy that her bed and toys are right at my feet and I no longer have to worry about trying to climb up. If you don't have a pet small enough – or no pet at all – you may want to turn a shelf into a small bar for easy happy hour videos after work. Use it to store fitness equipment for a quick yoga session or just use it for other books.
Photography by Kaitlin Hatton / The Verge
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