I’m standing at the coffee bar at Dwelltime, not because I’m a pretentious euro-snob sipping my espresso, but in protest of the absurd edict of the cambridge city council about the number of seats allowed in this establishment. Then it occurred to me, standing up and typing is just what I do at the office much of the time. And in both cases, standing up is a choice in the face of some foolish constraints placed on the environment.

I’ve already gone on and on about the situation at Dwelltime, let’s talk here about when, how and why you should kill your cubicle. Or at least wound it grievously.

Flashback to last Spring. New office space. I knew immediately that things were going in the wrong direction for a self-styled funky startup. Offices built out for the executives sucked up most of the windows, then they sent in the cubes for the drones. My reward for being a senior drone was a seat by one of the few remaining windows.

Well, I guess they didn’t block the entire window.  The window box is a good 18″ deep, about the same as the desktop.  I’m not a tall guy, I don’t have 36″ of reach, so there’s no way for me to reach the window to open or close it, or even to reach the blind controls to adjust the light.  Similar problem with the white board I planned to hang. #Fail.

Then a funny thing happened.  One weekend, the cubicle fell apart under the weight of its own lameness. Gremlins with allen wrenches, I guess.  But doesn’t this look a whole lot more livable?

After removing some of the excess desktop pieces, the gremlins moved the remaining piece up to a convenient standing height and removed one of the wall segments to give access to the spacious window box.  The space to the left of the desk means easy access to the white board, too.  I mounted the monitor to the wall to clear desk space and bring it up to eye level when standing, and put down some FLOR tiles and a gel mat on top of that.

Why stand, you ask?  Well, there’s some good evidence that sitting on your duff all day isn’t very good for you, for one thing. In addition, I find that standing is conducive to both creativity and focus.  And finally, when people come over to your desk to talk about stuff, they have to stand too, and that usually means they don’t overstay their welcome.  Maybe we should have more standing meetings, too?

The key here is that standardized cubicle parts are by their nature customizable, but once they’re installed, it’s hard to see that you have choices in the face of all the uniformity.  All you need is a couple of basic tools, (the only one you might not have handy is a good bunch of allen wrenches, your IKEA ones might or might not fit your cube system) access to the office after hours, and a healthy disregard for authority.  An accomplice assistant is a good idea too. Add to this some basic information on ergonomics, some easy to find (and perhaps expense) add-ons, and a place to bury the bodies hide the unused parts, and you’ve got a customized workplace.

Need more inspiration?  The fine folks at Apartment Therapy have lots of standing desk ideas.  You spend a lot of your life at the office.  You deserve a workspace that inspires rather than injures you. Stand up for yourself.