Turn Even the Tiniest Nook Into an Office With the Best Standing Desks
There is one that’s less than 4 feet wide (!).
Published Jan 10, 2022 1:03 AM
So you’re finally planning to upgrade your at-home workspace from that “temporary,” thrown-together corner of the living room? No longer excited to hunch over the very small vintage table you got off Facebook Marketplace? We don’t blame you. Stretch your legs and consider a sleek, shiny standing desk. It could bring a little movement to your workday, thanks to the simple act of changing from a sitting position to a standing one, or add a much welcome change of perspective—because, hey, maybe you can see out the window when you’re on your feet.
We’ve taken into consideration both ergonomics and smart-looking design when it comes to selecting the best standing desks for a home office, as well as assembly, operation, and size. Here are our top picks for any number of WFH lifestyles.
- The small space–friendly one: Seville Classics Airlift Height Adjustable Electric Desk
- The affordable one: Devaise Adjustable Height Standing Desk
- The one you can adjust even in a power outage: IKEA Skarsta Standing Desk
- The plywood one: Work From Home Desk WFH Desk
- The one you won’t mind showing off: Steelcase Migration SE Height-Adjustable Desk
- The (advanced) DIY one: Shannon Tate-Giordano’s Office Desk DIY
- The customizable one: Fully Jarvis Standing Desk
- The one with hidden storage: Brayden Studio Rosenblatt Height Adjustable Standing Desk
The Small Space–Friendly One: Seville Classics Airlift Height Adjustable Electric Desk
Dimensions: 48-by-24 inches | Adjustable height: 29 to 47 inches | Shape: Rectangle | Material: Glass, wood grain, vinyl, and steel | Weight: 74 lbs | Color: White
What we like:
- Hidden drawer
- 2 USB ports
- 3 programmable settings
- Doesn’t exceed height of 50 inches
- Self-assembly required
Why we chose it: This slim standing desk makes it easy to adjust your position while working from home—even if you’re tight on space.
If you’re already squeezing your WFH setup into a small apartment bedroom or making due in your living room, this slim standing desk will upgrade your workstation. The sleek glass-top desk is only 48 inches long but can reach up to 47 inches tall and has soft, curved corners. It will likely blend into most interiors, and you can add three preset height options that will get you from sitting to standing without fussing around too much. Plus it features a drawer to hold your miscellaneous pens and papers and USB ports for easy charging.
The Affordable One: Devaise Adjustable Height Standing Desk
Dimensions: 24-by-55 inches | Adjustable height: 29 to 45 inches | Shape: Rectangle | Material: Plastic and steel | Weight: 59.5 lbs | Color: White
What we like:
- Smooth adjustment
- Hand-crank only
- Limited height
Why we chose it: This affordable standing desk is a good option for those who want an ergonomic workspace on a budget.
At less than $200, this standing desk from Devaise is no-frills, requiring a hand-crank to adjust the height. But that also means it’s lighter and less complicated to assemble than some of the motorized options. Though it’s made of plastic with sturdy steel legs, the sleek white color will be welcome at your at-home office. According to reviews, the height adjustment is both smooth and silent, and it saves you an outlet if you have limited ones near your workspace.
The One You Can Adjust Even in a Power Outage: IKEA Skarsta Standing Desk
Dimensions: 27.5-by-47 inches | Adjustable height: 27.5 to 47 inches | Shape: Rectangle | Material: Particleboard, fiberboard, and steel | Weight: 65 lbs | Color: White; beige/white
What we like:
- No power source needed
- Hand-crank only
Why we chose it: This minimalist standing desk has a hidden crank for adjustment and will fit well in most home offices.
If you find yourself without power as you’re cranking through your work, you’ll be happy to know this option from IKEA can function without it—you won’t be stuck standing. At 47 inches long, it’s one of the larger desks on this list, and it can hold up to 110 pounds, which is good if you’ve got a monitor, books, and other extras in your workspace. With a low-key beige or white top and white legs, it’s minimalist style will slip right into most home offices. All in all, it’s an easy way to add some movement to your day—not to mention a little arm workout thanks to the crank.
The Plywood One: Work From Home Desk WFH Desk
Dimensions: 35-by-23.5 inches | Adjustable height: 29 to 45 inches | Shape: Square | Material: Plywood | Weight: 48 lbs | Color: Tan
What we like:
- Designed with sustainability in mind
- Easily folds away
- Only adjustable by 2-inch increments
- Manual adjustments
Why we chose it: This versatile standing desk is ideal for a small workspace, since it quickly folds down and can be stored away until next time.
Made of just six FSC-certified birch plywood pieces, this unique standing desk was designed for the simple at-home office. At 35 inches wide, it can easily tuck into a corner of a room and, thanks to its construction and material, still hold up to 100 pounds. Precut 2-inch increments allow for several heights to be set, so you can choose between sitting and standing. Best of all, because it’s relatively easy to assemble, you can quickly tuck it under your bed for some extra space.
The One You Won’t Mind Showing Off: Steelcase Migration SE Height-Adjustable Desk
Dimensions: 23-by-46 inches | Adjustable height: 28.5 to 47 inches | Shape: Rectangle | Material: Wood and steel | Weight: 50 lbs | Color: Multiple wood and steel finishes
What we like:
- Up/down power button
- Arrives in multiple boxes
Why we chose it: This well-designed, durable standing desk won’t be an eyesore, no matter where you set it up.
Standing desks can often look clunky and industrial, but this one from Michigan-based Steelcase is sophisticated and comes with serious chops. Customize it with eight different laminate wood finishes and four steel leg colors—like blackwood and arctic white or clear walnut and merle—plus four options for length and width; that way it will perfectly fit your space. While assembly is required, setup shouldn’t take more than an hour (and there’s a nifty video tutorial you can watch if you get stuck—just be sure to read the directions first) and raising the height of the desk is as easy as pressing the up and down power buttons to find the right ergonomics. A 12-year warranty on the mechanics, electric components, and the surface makes the investment one you’ll be using for years.
The (Advanced) DIY One: Shannon Tate-Giordano’s Office Desk DIY
Dimensions: Your choice | Adjustable height: No | Shape: Rectangle | Material: Wood | Weight: N/A | Color: Your choice
What we like:
- Pride from completion
- Need some skills to complete
Why we chose it: Make your WFH space extra-personal by creating a standing desk that’s custom to your height and style.
If you just aren’t into the mechanical look of ready-made standing desks, try your hand at building your own, like designer Shannon Tate-Giordano did. It takes a bit of work, a few tools, and some previous DIY experience, but is well worth it for a beautiful piece of furniture.
Here’s what Tate-Giordano did (but if you want the full scoop, view the whole tutorial): Using a table saw, she cut a piece of birch plywood for the top. Then she used a chop saw to cut up pine planks for the base and a support bracket, making all the necessary support pieces. With an electric screwdriver, she attached the top to the base, and later used a nail gun to attach the paneling. Sounds doable? Have at it!
The Customizable One: Fully Jarvis Standing Desk
Dimensions: 30-by-48 inches | Adjustable height: 25.5 to 51 inches | Shape: Rectangle | Material: Wood and steel | Weight: 92 lbs | Color: Tan and white
What we like:
- Multiple color and size options
- Preset height options
- Assembly required
- Slower to rise
Why we chose it: Need a desk that fits your office to a T? The Fully comes in multiple finishes and sizes, in addition to various preset options, for your perfect match.
While we’re partial to the simple bamboo-and-white-legs combination that this standing desk comes in, there are a plethora of custom choices you can make for it, too. With eight desk finishes (bamboo, dark bamboo, black, maple, oak, stone, walnut, and white); four base colors (black, white, alloy, and silver); width options ranging from 30 inches to 72 inches; and depth options from 27 inches to 30 inches, you’re sure to find that perfect fit with the Fully desk. Up and down arrows on the touch pad help you secure the most comfortable ergonomic height, and you can preset four options when you find them. The desk’s back also has removable circular disks, which you can use to hide your cords or add a cup for some extra writing utensil storage.
The One With Hidden Storage: Brayden Studio Rosenblatt Height Adjustable Standing Desk
Dimensions: 48-by-24 inches | Adjustable height: 35 to 41 inches | Shape: Rectangle | Material: Manufactured wood | Weight: 67 lbs | Color: White and chrome
What we like:
- Extra storage
- Lift top
- Not a large height range
- Need to assemble
Why we chose it: This lift-top standing desk mixes things up with hidden storage and still offers enough adjustment for most people.
One of the main issues with most standing desks is that they lack proper (or any) storage. Not so with this option. You could park this sleek white and chrome number just about anywhere, since its lift top (which doubles as the standing option) will hide any clutter at the end of the day. Though the height adjustment range is less than 10 inches, it should still be enough to accommodate most people under 6 feet tall. It’s probably the only standing desk out there that doesn’t scream, “I’m a standing desk!”
How We Chose These Products
Utilitarian standing desks are a thing of the past, which is why we considered both form and function when it came to our selection. We also consulted ergonomic experts on what to look for to find the most comfortable workstation. From there, we found a number of customizable options in a variety of colors and heights to suit several styles. We also included manual crank options (for those avoiding a powered desk), but still took ease-of-height change into consideration. Special features, like preprogrammed heights and USB ports, gave products an extra edge as well.
Our Shopping Checklist
Electric vs. Manual Standing Desks
There are two main types of standing desks: electric and manual. Electric ones require some sort of power source, which allows the user to simply press a button to change the height of the desk. They are typically more expensive than manual ones, which require you to crank or physically pull up the desk to raise or lower it. However, with a nonelectric option, you won’t need to waste an outlet or worry about a power outage to still use the desk.
Tabletop Size and Design
Most standing desks keep a rectangular shape, but you’ll find some L-shaped and square ones to fit different home office configurations. These options weren’t included, as our selection was meant to fit most home offices. You’ll also find a range of lengths, starting at 35 inches to upwards of 50 inches, to best fit your needs.
Minimum and Maximum Height
Most standing desks have a range of 25 to 50 inches in height range, so you can easily customize it for sitting and standing. But for those over 6 feet tall, it’s a good idea to get a standing desk that raises up to 45 inches; otherwise it may be too short for your wrists to sit comfortably on the surface.
Weight Capacity and Stability
Look for standing desks that can withstand at least 100 pounds of weight, which should be more than enough to hold a computer, monitor, and accessories. In terms of stability, choose a desk made with supportive steel legs to prevent tipping, and a slow yet steady height change so you don’t knock anything over when adjusting height.
Some electric standing desks allow you to presave different heights so you can quickly change from your ideal sitting and standing position. Some even allow for multiple preset heights, so multiple users can save their own ergonomic preferences.
Shipping and Assembly
Standing desks can be quite the task to assemble and often ship in multiple boxes. While some offer the option to add on professional assembly for a fee, all include detailed instructions to follow. Or you could always hire a TaskRabbit.
Aside from programmability, some standing desks have built-in USB ports and outlets, which make it easier to charge phones and plug-in devices, especially when you have a desk that rises further and further away from a wall outlet. Others may have places for monitor or keyboard attachments.
“You have to make a decision whether you want to place a laptop on it or integrate a keyboard,” says chiropractor Chad Henriksen, D.C., director of WorkSiteRight at Northwestern Health Sciences University. “And my recommendation from an ergonomic standpoint is to integrate a keyboard.”
Q: What’s the length of time I should use a standing desk per day?
According to Henriksen, too much sitting or standing isn’t great for anyone, as it can have ill health effects from things like circulation to positional support. By changing position throughout the day, it allows us to be more active and engage different muscles. That’s why he recommends swapping from sitting to standing and vice versa every 20 to 30 minutes.
“Typically there has to be a trigger to remind people to switch, otherwise they’ll be two to three hours into a project and they’ve been sitting the whole time,” he says. “What I find works well, in addition to those prompting opportunities, is to look at your day and say every time, ‘I’m doing an email and I’m going to switch positions,’ and find things that are natural that prompt you.”
Q: How tall should a standing desk be?
For the most comfortable ergonomic positioning, there isn’t an ideal desk height for how tall you are. While there are general ranges, you’ll have to adjust it a bit to get your perfect fit. Henriksen says to find a height where your arms hang at your side, your elbows are at a 90-degree angle, and your wrists sit comfortably on a keyboard in a neutral position. However, if you have any injuries, those should be accounted for as well.
“We all have preexisting conditions or old injuries that make us really more unique than our height and weight and physical dynamics,” he says. “For example, someone who has had rotator cuff surgery needs to take stress off their shoulder, so the keyboard should be lower than a 90-degree angle.”
Q: Do I need an anti-fatigue mat for a standing desk?
Not necessarily. While it can make standing more comfortable, if you’re changing positions regularly, your feet probably won’t be bothered. But think twice about what shoes you wear.
“I think that a far more important aspect to think about is the quality of shoes, and by that I mean, properly fitted shoes that provide support for the heel will probably make a bigger difference than an anti-fatigue mat,” Henriksen explains.
The Last Word
Standing desks can make your at-home workspace more active and ergonomic by moving you from a sitting to a standing position throughout the day. We found that the modern and not-too-long Seville Classics Airlift Height Adjustable Electric Desk would work well for most home offices and/or those who want a no-fuss electric model with quick adjustments. But for those on a budget, the hand-crank Devaise Adjustable Height Standing Desk will offer the same benefits at a lower price, though it requires a bit more work for height changes.
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