At Matchbox we pride ourselves on doing the best job possible. Staying at the cutting edge of Software Design and Development means keeping up to date with emerging trends, technologies and tools to ensure what we create is relevant and useful now and well into the future. Having the right people, with the right skills and right attitude is key to our success.
We constantly strive to make improvements, enhancements and tweaks to our process, practices and knowledge to enable us to do the best job possible. In the pursuit of excellence we’ve been experimenting with changes to our working environment, most recently adding stand up desks to the office.
Why did we even consider stand-up desks for Matchbox? Well, first of all, standing up at work is better for your health: you burn more calories, use muscles that would be otherwise idle while sitting and improve alertness. These are reasons alone to trial the stand-up work station, and as we quickly found there were plenty of unexpected and welcome benefits.
I was first to get the stand-up desk as I’m only in the office 2 or 3 days a week, don’t need to be immersed in IDE all day and – as anyone who knows me will attest – I love a good health and fitness fad. Day one: my immediate impression was just how much more comfortable I was standing at my desk. When sitting down, as the day progresses I slowly slouch and slide down my chair until I’m almost horizontal by the end of the day – not particularly good news for my back and shoulders. Next I found myself tidying my desk up, although I’m not particularly untidy. I removed everything extraneous, keeping in arms reach only the items vital to the immediate tasks in hand; phone, to-do list, pen and cup of tea! So far so good, I was really enjoying the new desk, moving in and out of meetings, checking back in, feeling more productive.
The most unexpected but welcome benefit was how the stand-up desk became a collaboration station or an impromptu stand-up meeting area. When you’re sitting at your desk and a co-worker comes over to talk to you to discuss a piece of work, you have to move over, find a chair or have them crouch uncomfortably. For both parties it feels like you’re politely gatecrashing somebody’s personal space. Such awkwardness is removed with the stand-up: everybody could share the screen and keyboard easily, comfortably facilitate 2, 3 even 4 people working together productively in a short collaboration.
Furthermore, the moments when you need to sit down, it’s appreciated. Regularly I’d eat lunch sitting at my desk, whereas when you’ve been standing all morning finding somewhere to sit down and have lunch is a must, enforcing a welcome screen break.
On the downside, if you’ve been used to sitting down the majority of your working life, then switching to standing up all day will be at a minimum tiring. It’s encouraged to ease yourself in at first; I didn’t do this and was pretty tired by the end of the day and the backs of the calves felt the same way too. It took around 5 stand-up working days to become accustomed to the change. For a number of the team finding a good standing position took a while. Furthermore once you’ve made the decision to take the plunge, stand up desks are not readily available off the shelf from Argos or Ikea so designing and sourcing a stand up solution took a long time (close to 6 months by the time everything was shipped and assembled). This means that it’s not cheap, but I would suggest – given the improvement in communication, collaboration, productivity and general well-being – the desks pay for themselves very quickly.
We opted for crank-handled stands over electric, motorised adjustable desk stands. The crank handle option frees up plug socket space, is carbon-neutral and – in our opinion – less likely to break. The model we opted for supports an elevation range of 70 to 115 centimetres, a range that supports sitting down as well as standing up. We chose our own custom desktops – the same yellow trim tops we use on our sit down desks – so all the desks match whatever height (that’s what happens when you put your Creative Director in charge of office design). Feel free to drop by our Brighton office to find out more or have a test drive!