Office Craze: Taking a Stand

by Kendall Meade (Madewell)

That’s me, workin’ it a little too hard for the camera, but proof is proof, right? I’m still standing, believe it or not.

Recently, our tiny marketing department went on a lunch outing. At the end of our delicious meal, I started whining about my sore back and promptly blamed both my soft bed and the occupational hazards that go along with being a writer (translation: sitting for hours upon end). Gigi suggested standing up at my desk, which seemed supercrazy until I came across an article that suggested that sitting for most of the day at a desk can take years off your life. A panicked spark flew, and we instantly decided to band together and stand at work for as long as we could. My journey was filled with triumph, odd looks from coworkers and many suggestions for a playlist (you’ll find that below, too). And guess what? My back feels better. And I’m still standing.

Here, more true stories from the vertical front.

GIGI

Gigi gets major props for suggesting the standing ploy, as well as for successfully mixing stripes and prints. Days standing? A good solid eight.

When it came time to practice what I preach and actually work standing up, I was kind of like, “whoa.” But since I’d convinced my esteemed coworkers to do it, I figured I should be a team player. So I kicked off my wedges, slid into some sandals and entered the nine-to-five vertical productivity game. Then our designer Kin fed my fire by telling me about something called a treadmill desk, which I actually briefly considered, picturing myself breezily running a 5K while answering emails, taking meetings and having conference calls. I was further inspired by a guy I read about who leisurely walked the equivalent distance from midtown Manhattan to Secaucus, NJ, in a work day. And then, without explanation, I lost all momentum. But the biggest upside of working while standing? It gave me better perspective on my messy desk, which inspired me to address my most pressing well-being issue: getting rid of clutter. 

KHIRA

This is Khira (in her not-so-sensible shoes). Number of days standing? An impressive eight and a half.

First, let me say that I have no clue whether standing up at my desk for a week made any positive impact on my lifespan, but it definitely did wonders (or horrors, depending on your perspective) for my aptitude for death-related wordplay. It seemed I couldn’t even go 10 minutes without making a joke about how we were “standing up—to death,” how sitting people were getting “the chair” or generally remarking that pushing through the pain was about personal will—you know, to live. The one practical thing I can say about the whole ordeal? My shoes were very much platformed on Day 1—and that is so not recommended.

FIORELLA

It’s safe to say Fiorella did this purely as a reason to play R.E.M. in the office. How long did she last? Ten hours.

I admit, I do a lot of things that I’m well aware will probably take years off my life: I don’t get nearly enough sleep; I’m usually stressed about something; I frequently eat things that wouldn’t qualify for inclusion in any of the major food groups—I could go on. But I didn’t realize until my desk neighbor Khira clued me in that the simple act of sitting also deserved to be on that list of health no-nos. So when my coworkers decided to stand, I figured I should also rise to the occasion. I promptly cued up “Stand” by R.E.M. (Michael Stipe literally says I should “stand in the place where I work,” after all). The first few hours were fine—I had a new view, better posture and my posterior felt decidedly less pancake-y. But come Monday, I lasted only a few hours. Yes, I know I may be sacrificing time in my twilight years, but I think I’d rather live in the moment, comfortably. So after 10 hours of standing, I called it quits. Bizarrely (and sadly) a few days later, so did R.E.M.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST: THE PLAYLIST

“Get Up, Stand Up” by Bob Marley

“Stand” by R.E.M.

“Stand!” by Sly and the Family Stone

“I’m Still Standing” by Elton John

“Stand Back” by Stevie Nicks