Sitting down, so medical professionals tell us, is bad for you. As a species we’re designed to stand up and move about rather than sit in front of a screen. The trouble is, modern office-based work doesn’t really lend itself to this hunter/gatherer lifestyle.
The answer for some people is to have a standing desk so that you can bash away at your keyboard from a vertical position. It may not match the thrill of the hunt but at least it gets you off your backside. The trouble is, purpose built standing desks can be eye-wateringly expensive, especially some of the sophisticated motorised models, and you have the problem of where to accommodate an extra piece of furniture.
The latest product from Ergotron provides a solution, the WorkFit-T sits – or rather stands – on top of your existing desk or table and allows you to choose whether to work from a sitting or standing position.
What is it?
It comes in a choice of black or white finishes with a built-in keyboard tray and has the option of a monitor riser so that you can adjust the height of your screen separately. Risers are available for both single and dual monitor set ups and screens up to 30-inches in size, compatible with the VESA MIS-D mounting standard with 75 or 100mm hole centres.
The first thing to note about the WorkFit-T is that it's no flimsy flat pack. It's a serious, heavyweight (our review unit was delivered on a pallet) piece of kit with engineering Brunel would be proud of. The riser is a chunky piece of kit too weighing an extra 3.6Kgs on top of the 26Kgs of the WorkFit-T itself – don’t go standing this on your auntie’s old card table with the wobbly legs!
It comes pre-assembled so you’re ready to go once you've liberated it from the packaging. It's supplied with some braided cable sheathing to keep things neat and tidy and keep stray wires away from the lifting mechanism. Fitting the optional monitor riser requires a little bit of screwdrivering but nothing too strenuous. There's a maximum weight limit for equipment of 35lbs (around 16Kgs) which should be more than enough for everyday use.
It uses a counterbalanced mechanism that moves up and down but stays within the footprint of your desktop. There’s minimal effort involved in changing the height, you simply release the brakes at either side and lift gently then it rises until it hits the top of its travel or you put the brakes on again. Lowering it is equally easy, just a gentle downward pressure once the brakes are off, so you can switch easily between sitting and standing. There's 15-inches (38cm) of total movement so most people should be able to find a comfortable working height.
Once in position, whatever height you have it set at, it provides a solid, stable work surface that you can lean on while working without it tipping or dropping in height. Adjustment is simple and quick, it's a two-handed job as you have to release both brakes simultaneously but that's no hardship and it helps keep your fingers away from the moving parts. You need to make sure your cables are long enough so that they’re not stretched taut when the Ergotron is at the top of its travel. You’ll probably need to invest a few pounds in USB and maybe video cable extensions.
The optional monitor riser gives you an extra five inches (13cm) of height adjustment on the screen, as well as allowing you up to 30 degrees of tilt so you should be able to find a comfortable working position. The mount can be rotated too if you like to switch between portrait and landscape modes.
There's plenty of space on the work surface so you have room for phones, papers, cuddly toys and whatever else you choose to surround yourself with when working. The surfaces themselves have a lightly grained finish rather than being completely smooth which makes for a good mousing environment. The keyboard tray is a generous size so there’s room to place a small mouse mat next to your keyboard if you wish.
It does raise the height of your work surface slightly when you’re sitting down so you’ll need to fine tune your seating position to get the recommended 90 degree elbow bend. Working standing up takes a bit of getting used to, so it's good that the Ergotron lets you quickly switch between sitting and standing as you can gradually wean yourself away from your chair for longer periods. A word of warning for open plan office users here, if you listen to music while working you’re much more inclined to move to the beat when standing up!
At £310 (ex VAT) for the basic unit in black, plus an extra £68 for a monitor riser kit, the WorkFit-T isn’t cheap, however it’s less than a complete new standing desk. It has a 5-year warranty but you get the impression it's built to last several lifetimes, and what price do you put on your – or your employees – health?