I've heard of being chained to your desk, but this is ridiculous. Yes, I have joined the ranks of those using not just standup desks, but a treadmill under my desk. As I dictate this, walking, I have a two-thirds of a mile at .6 miles an hour in the past hour. I can step off to the left and work standing at my standup writing desk if I need a slant – top surface, or I can step off to the right and sit in my office chair and still use my desk. (Amazingly, if I leave the treadmill running while standing or sitting I continue to accrue mileage without even having to walk. Now what kind of a great exercise plan is that?)
As I have posted previously, articles such as this indicate that standup desks help focus and provide some health benefits, but do not go as far as weight loss. However, pairing a treadmill with a standup desk generally does result in weight loss, while in some cases being reported as enhancing concentration and focus even more. For me, the tipping point was when California lawyer Rachael "Reverse Bifurcation" Lamkin recently flagged an article pointing out that merely standing doesn't provide much in the way of health benefits compared to actually moving. Biased as I am against motion in general, I decided that was probably a good indication that I needed to take the next step (drops mike).
As far as additional fatigue, it does add some. I'm used to standing virtually all day in my office, and with only an hour or so on the treadmill this afternoon, I can already tell that some muscles are being worked and fatigue generated (feet & hips thus far) that wasn't the case when I was simply standing. I assume it is going to get much more pronounced tomorrow and in the future.
At least in my experience, the idea is that if pacing or walking helps you to think, it lets you do that without distracting yourself from the work at hand. Some of us do prefer to pace when dictating. My paralegal recently noticed my habit of walking in circles around my desk when dictating into a wireless headless (don't tell anybody, okay?). It helps me keep a train of thought going - I noticed that right away after I started using wireless headsets for dictation.
I do agree with the Winstead partner interviewed above who indicated that he prefers not to walk when making detailed document revisions – there are some things that benefit from giving a document your complete attention – but paradoxically walking helps me to focus on things on a computer screen. It might have something to do with the fact that you are essentially locked in place with respect to your screens, and for some reason especially when considering several inputs at once, the ability to pace in place helps me turn from one to another more efficiently.
And I think I figured out why – I have so many work surfaces and screens, from sitting desk, standing desk, standing writing desk to monitors 1, 2, and 3 plus the iPad, that it appears I had a tendency to putter from surface to surface sometimes, rather than work continuously. With the treadmill, you do have to organize your work a little more efficiently so that everything is within arm's length. But once you do that, you really can't get away from what is in front of you on the screen without consciously deciding to do so. You can't turn and check what's on the other desk, or pace or anything else. You just have to keep walking and work the next item on the screen. So for certain types of work it does make you more efficient. For me, I notice more focus on the accuracy of operation of the dictation software, and I can definitely see more focus on the content of the specific document or email or website that is in front of me. Not wanting to go to the trouble of getting off the treadmill keeps you focused on the task at hand better than simply standing.
But I'm still not clipping on the safety key.