We can’t really pinpoint when exactly adjustable standing desks became a popular fixture in home offices, but we can hazard a guess that the whole work-from-home situation that began in 2020 helped kickstart this trend. Then again, people used sitting desks for centuries before standing ones came around. So the big question is: which is better for you?
To help you make a more informed decision about whether a standing or a sitting desk is more suitable for your work-from-home arrangement, we take a deep-dive into the two types of desks. We also asked people from both camps to tell us why, or why not.
Standing desks: Pros & Cons
The Secretlab Magnus Pro.
When flexible working arrangements kicked in for many of us, ergonomics became a hot topic, leading to an explosion in the adjustable standing desk market. Even chair makers and custom PC makers wanted in on the action, offering tables rich with features like multiple height presets, docking stations for your bulky PC, and built-in cable organisers.
With these nifty additions, there’s always the consideration of an increased cost price. For context, a normal study desk from IKEA starts at $39, while the most affordable convertible standing desk from EverDesk starts from $500. So is it worth the damage?
One of the biggest benefits of a standing desk is that it promotes healthier habits for your posture, and that’s something that drew Joycelyn, Natalie, and Samantha into getting their desks.
“I’ll stand every 1-2 hours because of my back ache while sitting,” Joycelyn said about her newfound working habits. Natalie agreed, saying that just having the desk was a good reminder to put it to good use with midday stretches. She also put it over a treadmill to help beat her food coma with a post-lunch walk.
The Squirrey desk Natalie bought from Lazada.
Image credit: Natalie Tee
As for Samantha, she appreciates the minute adjustments available on her Taobao standing desk. “Due to my (shorter than average) height, I can adjust the table lower when I’m seated to relax my arms and shoulders while I’m working,” she said.
All three ladies also shared how standing for an hour after lunch helps their digestion. While you could argue that all you have to do is stand around or take a walk after a hearty lunch, a standing desk lets you maximise your time, especially if you have a tight schedule to adhere to.
Researchers from the University of Turku have also observed how standing can help insulin sensitivity, especially if they’re used to a more sedentary lifestyle and sitting down. Other benefits to your health include a boost in productivity and reduced physical fatigue.
The Secretlab Magnus Pro hides all the cables out of sight in an easy-access cable management tray.
There are also plenty of aesthetic perks to a standing desk. Alastair, an owner of an Omnidesk Pro, likes the sturdiness of the desk and the fact that features like cable management are inherently built into the desk rather than it being an afterthought. Natalie also said that she loves the USB ports that are included with her Squirrey Adjustable Desk and uses them often.
The price of all those benefits listed above? Literally, the price tag. One of the most affordable convertible standing desks we found is the Squirrey Electric Height Adjustable Desk Smart on Shopee which costs $299. On the other hand, the Omnidesk Ascent Wildwood can cost up to $1,169 for the XL version. Sitting desks can be just a fraction of the price.
Those who are not used to standing while working for extended periods of time might also have to invest in an anti-fatigue mat. While that might be inexpensive, it’s the little things that will add up in the long run. Don’t forget that you still need a chair even though it’s a “standing desk.” Although Joycelyn said that she could use any stool and adjust the desk as necessary.
Raewyn, a colleague of mine, lamented how an adjustable standing desk has to be plugged in, which can limit where you place one in your room. While it’s not a problem if you have an extension cord or a power socket in the right position, having too many wires can make things quite untidy and not very Marie Kondo-ish.
Who should get a standing desk
If you’re thinking about getting a standing desk, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you work from home often? (more than 50% of the work week)
- Are you experiencing any back aches from sitting down?
- Can you afford it?
If the answer is yes to all of the above, then getting a standing desk is a good idea. If you are on a tight budget but still want a standing desk, a standing desk converter might be better for your wallet. These are more affordable than stand-alone standing desks with this one from Ergoworks costing $199, and can turn any table into an ergonomic one.
Where to buy standing desks in Singapore
Designed by the team behind Aftershock PC and Prism+, Omnidesk is one of the first to capitalise on the rising standing desk market in Singapore. Their desks start at $469 for the Essential and can go up to $1,820 for the L-shaped Pro model.
“Omnidesks have a sleek design, it’s nicely built, and I like the cable management as well,” Alastair said. “Their website also has nice customisation options as well.”
The folks behind the popular ErgoTune ergonomic chairs first started EverDesk – formerly known as ErgoEdge – after being frustrated at the high cost of standing desks, according to VulcanPost. They now offer 2 types of desks, the EverDesk Lite (from $509) and EverDesk Max (from $659).
Each desk also has 3 memory profiles, a feature that Joycelyn appreciates. “I can save my sitting and standing height without having to manually adjust it every time,” she said.
IKEA has also jumped onto the standing desk bandwagon much to our delight, as you know that their tables will be easy to assemble and they’ll come at an affordable price. Their most affordable option is the TROTTEN desk (from $329) that operates via manual hand crank. Those who want it to be more automated can opt for the RODULF desk (from $549) or the BEKANT desk (from $719).
Another chair maker that pivoted to desks recently is Secretlab. First launched in 2021, the Magnus was re-launched in 2022 with a sit-to-stand adjustable feature. It’s made entirely out of medium-density fibreboard with steel, giving it a very solid structure. The cable management tray spanning the entire desk will also keep all your charging cables out of sight and out of mind.
Another place to find standing desks at affordable prices is either Shopee or Lazada; the latter is where Natalie got her Squirrey desk on sale for just $306 too. The perk of these sites are their frequent monthly sales where you can score major savings on the desks.
Sitting desks: Pros & cons
Sitting desks require no introduction. They’re the defacto working table, but they are quickly being replaced by standing desks as the conversation about ergonomics and posture heats up. Do they still have a place in the home office? We asked some die-hard fans of sitting desks what it is that has them hooked.
As above, so below. The cost of a sitting desk can be a fraction of what a standing desk might be. Most of us would default to IKEA for their wide variety of study tables and low(er) prices, as the Swedish furniture giant has desks that start from $39 for the simple TORALD and up to $597 for their gaming-focused desks.
There are also a lot more design options for the typical stationary desks, with some homeowners even asking their carpenters to build a desk into their home for them. And because you don’t have a motor in your table, there are fewer wires you have to deal with.
Should you decide down the road that you want to try standing while working but don’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars for another table, you can always get one of the aforementioned standing desk converters to place on your beloved table.
It’s hard to think of a con when the stationary sitting desk has been around for millennia. But when compared to an adjustable standing desk, the biggest con is also its biggest feature: it’s stationary. You can only work seated down or take a break standing up; there is no in-between option unlike standing desks.
Most study desks also only come in one height. This means that you’ll have to adjust your chair to make yourself feel comfortable, but it might come at the expense of ergonomics where your feet might not be able to touch the ground. This was one reason why Samantha chose an adjustable desk instead, as it allowed her to lower her desk for a better posture.
Furthermore, a sitting desk unwittingly encourages a sedentary lifestyle. As you toil away from 9-5, you’re most likely to be sitting at your desk, on your bum, unmoving. That isn’t very healthy, especially if your favourite post-work activity is watching movies or playing video games. That’s just more sitting down being done.
Who should get a sitting desk
If you already have a sitting desk, and you’re questioning whether or not you should change it up, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you work mostly from the office?
- Do you spend a lot of time away from your desk?
- Do you exercise often?
Should your answer be yes to all of the above, then a sitting desk would work well for you and your lifestyle. If you’re not really at home all the time and you like to keep active, then there’s no urgent need to “upgrade” to an adjustable standing desk.
Where to buy sitting desks in Singapore
One of the best places to get a sitting desk is at IKEA. I personally use the affordable Bekant ($249) which is sturdy and wide enough for me to put 2 monitors and a whole bunch of other things. The Bekant also comes in a sit/stand configuration for an additional cost.
Those who are willing to splurge a bit on a desk can visit XTRA. The furniture store has study desks in a variety of styles from Mid-Century Modern to Industrial and Classic.
3. Nook & Cranny
For a desk that’s in between the price and quality of IKEA and XTRA, Nook & Cranny will fit right in between the two. Their desks have a rugged, industrial aesthetic to them with wooden tabletops and metal legs.
4. Crate & Barrel
Another atas furniture store to get sitting desks is Crate & Barrel. Their Randolph White Lacquer And Walnut Desk ($3,899) comes with 5 pull-out drawers so you can store all your documents, stationery, and other barang without cluttering your desk. For those who want an avant-garde desk, there’s the Waylon Executive 70″ Grey Oak Desk ($3,899) that features hidden drawers camouflaged by a bold dark wood grain design.
If you love the look of the Secretlab Magnus Pro but don’t want to dish out all that money for an adjustable desk, you’d be pleased to know that they also have a standard version of the Magnus ($569). It’s made from the same material – medium-density fibreboard with steel – and has the same cable management tray so you’re not missing out on much, too.
Standing vs Sitting Desks – Which is the best option for you?
There’s no right or wrong answer to whether a standing or sitting desk is the best option for you. All that matters is what you’re most comfortable with from how the table looks and feels to how much the table costs.
Read more comparisons here: