Standing Desk vs Ergonomic Chair (Which is Better?)

Few office furniture innovations have had as much real-world impact as the standing desk and ergonomic chair. In fact, these are arguably the two most notable inventions in terms of our comfort and wellbeing in the workplace to emerge over the last few decades.

And with more of us migrating to an even more sedentary lifestyle, especially now many of us WFH, health problems and musculoskeletal issues related to prolonged sitting and bad sitting posture are a real worry for many. So naturally many of us are wondering what our options are.

Standing desk vs ergonomical chair

Which should you prioritise, a standing desk or a new office ergonomic chair? And if you have to pick only one of these two, which should it be? Should you change your work style to stand, or go for your comfort while sitting?

If you’re stuck deciding which is best for you, read on and we’ll unpick the differences. You might be surprised at the options you have, even on a limited budget.

What is a Standing Desk?

Standing desks, in most instances, are actually for both sitting and standing. They consist of a movable frame that uses motors to raise the desk to a standing height and then lower it for sitting. In sitting position, you would struggle to tell a standing desk from a standard desk.

They’ve been all the rage for a few years now as they allow the user to sit comfortably when they wish, but then to switch up and take a standing position to alleviate stiffness and promote bloodflow. This ability to shift positions is crucial as it helps prevent stiffness in joints, aches in muscles, and promotes healthy blood flow.

Standing desks are popular with people who work long hours or find it uncomfortable to spend extended periods of time sitting. But they are also gaining popularity as a way of maintaining good posture, and for boosting productivity, energy levels, and general wellbeing. We’ll dive deeper into all of that later on.


What Are The Different Types Of Standing Desk?

Electric Standing Desks

The most popular and easiest to use, the electric standing desk allows office workers or home users to transit from sitting to standing positions at the push of a button. Electric desks also offer the greatest stability in movement as the motors are doing the heavy lifting, quite literally, and as a result can support the most weight.


Manual Standing Desk

A manual standing desk could be hand-operated or use the power of compressed air. A good quality standing desk should be easy to use of course, with pneumatic power accessed via a lever, and hand-cranked models only requiring a small effort to adjust.

They have the advantage of being cheaper than motor-powered desks, but cannot quite match the power or stability of their electronic counterparts. That said, with lesser lifting capacity they will support small to medium-sized setups comfortably.

L Shaped and Corner Desks

For those who need to maximise their desk space, L-shaped and corner desks offer huge lift and endless real estate. Popular amongst draftsmen, data geeks and gamers alike.

L-Shape desks also offer ample space and lift, making them the perfect choice if space is key.

Standing Desks For Small Spaces

Just because your home office space is limited (or doubles as your living room or bedroom), you needn’t miss out on the benefits of sit-stand working. A single or pedestal sit-stand desk will fit in smaller offices or existing spaces, and pack down and stow away easily too.

What Is An Ergonomic Chair?

Ergonomic chairs are designed with the human body in mind, to support the parts of your body that bear the bunt of the strain when sitting for long periods.

Now more common than the standard desk chair, they promote correct posture and support the lower back and neck to help prevent or alleviate back pain and neck pain.

Ergonomic chairs are easily recognisable by the high backs, developed padding and range of adjustable features.

Flexibility is key in an ergonomic chair, as no two bodies are exactly the same. The ability to adjust lumbar support, seat height, armrests, and neck support allows users to find the perfect position to support them in their work life.

ergo chair

What Are The Different Types Of Ergonomic Chair?

Ergonomic Office Chairs

An ergonomic chair will be designed to support your lumbar area, upper back and neck, and will often have armrests. In the modern office, nearly all chairs will be ergonomic to some degree. But not all ergonomic chairs are equal: some offer greater support and a wider range of adjustable features.

Ergonomic chairs normally come fitted with a range of adjustable parts, allowing you to ‘dial in’ the perfect position for you.

Mesh Chairs

Mesh chairs offer much of the support of padded ergonomic chairs but use a resistant and breathable mesh that supports your body while allowing easy airflow. Mesh chairs are normally fully adjustable and often feature some padding for added comfort.

Sit Stand Chairs and Office Stools

Predictably used in tandem with a standing desk, sit stand chairs allow you to take the weight off slightly and can help with foot pain and muscle pain when standing for long periods.

They are designed to promote movement while working, helping maintain healthy blood flow and alleviating aches and joint pains associated with prolonged periods of inactivity.

Kneeling Chairs

Kneeling chair vs standing desks: Both options have their own pros and cons. Using a kneeling chair, a form of active sitting, has benefits over standing, but then again standing desks allow you to stand naturally which may be more comfortable long term.


What Are The Pros Of Standing Desks?

The modern work environment and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles can have profound negative health impacts. Many of these negative effects however can be minimised by adopting a more active lifestyle – starting in the office.

Standing for a few hours a day might seem like it will have little impact on your health – it’s only standing, right? Well, yes – but what’s perhaps more important is that it’s NOT sitting.

The human body is not really designed to sit in the same position all day. That’s why we see so many illnesses and injuries related to the workplace. A sedentary lifestyle can slow the metabolism, which in turn can lead to weight gain and raise blood pressure, leading to a slew of health problems.

Obesity, heart disease, and a whole range of postural problems are related to periods of prolonged sitting. Which is, of course, where standing desks come in. Standing desks promote movement and encourage the user to vary their position during the day.

Even a few hours a day standing has been shown to offset the effects of sedentary living effectively. Multiple studies have shown that standing at work helps lower blood pressure, lowers blood sugar, speeds the metabolism, and helps to help in the fight against weight gain.

Two male employees happy and excited at work

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using A Standing Desk?

Standing desks, if used properly, have a wide range of benefits, both to your work life and your wellbeing. Varying our working position throughout the workday has been shown to help with back, neck and joint pain.

Moving while we work is useful to keep active the muscles which otherwise seize up during the day, which helps prevent muscle pain. Moving during the day and varying our position at work can also promote good blood flow, help regulate the metabolism and help control weight gain. We’ll get into the specifics in a little while.

Many standing desk users report an uptick in productivity and energy levels throughout the day. Employers are convinced too: finding an entire office fitted with standing desks nowadays is easy.

Can Using A Stand Up Desk Boost Productivity?

Increased blood flow, extra energy and freedom from aches and pains all contribute to a healthier and yes, more productive worklife. Most standing desk users report a distinct uptick in energy, and find the standing position is most useful for those mid-afternoon slumps (and slow mornings).

If that’s too anecdotal for you, a study conducted by Texas A&M University in 2015 found that over a 6 month period, call centre staff using standing desks registered a 46% increase in productivity over their seated colleagues.

Productive at work when employees are in good health

What Are The Pros Of Ergonomic Chairs?

Ergonomic chairs have many benefits, which are mostly (but not limited to) their postural properties. Ergonomic chairs are designed to support all the areas of your body that bear the strain when sitting. That means the back, neck, and legs, but also the arms, bum and hips.

Correct posture when working is incredibly important. Perhaps the biggest plus of ergonomic chairs is that they are designed to adjust around your body, so you can find the perfect position for you.

This in turn will help prevent a huge range of ailments. Back pain, neck pain, repetitive strain injuries, and chronic headaches can all be either be relieved or prevented by the proper use of an ergonomic chair.

Can Ergonomic Office Chairs Help With Back Pain?

Ergonomic chairs can be a great help with back pain. Designed to support all areas of the back and neck, for people who suffer from back pain ergonomic chairs are custom built to relieve pain, and most importantly the strain on your back.

Adjustable back supports allow users to dial in the perfect position, and lumbar support takes the strain from the lower back. Arm rests are also important as they help the user maintain the best position relative to their screen, alleviating strain on the muscles that support the head, neck and back.

Why Is An Ergonomic Chair Better Than A Standard Desk Chair?

Versus standard office chairs, the pros of ergonomic chairs are clear. Standard office chairs tend not to provide the same level of support, which for some will be fine. But any of us who have any underlying postural or muscular issues may soon come unstuck.

It’s important to remember that ergonomic chairs are important to prevent workplace injury and discomfort – you shouldn’t wait until you have a problem to consider buying one.

Happy employees having fun at work

What Are The Biggest Differences Between Standing Desks And Ergonomic Chairs?

Well, although this may seem like a silly question, but beyond the obvious difference (one is a desk and the other a chair), there are some important points to raise regarding the benefits of each approach.

Standing desks will have the biggest impact on your overall health. They can help to offset issues like obesity, and related health issues. On top of this, standing during the workday boosts the body’s ability to keep blood flowing, helps lower blood pressure, and speeds the metabolism. They do also help with postural issues as they encourage the user to change position.

Some users do complain of foot pain, although this can be minimised by the use of anti-fatigue mats, or alternating more often between sitting and standing.

The benefits of ergonomic chairs are mostly postural. Ergonomic chairs help to support the body during the workday and seek to mitigate and prevent any postural issues and related pains, strains and injuries.

So, standing desks are more related to wellbeing and general good health, whereas ergonomic chairs are focused on preventing musculoskeletal problems. So choosing which is more important to you is the first step.

The absolute best approach would be to use both – after all, even with a standing desk you will still be sat for part of the day. However, if you can’t stretch to both, we hope this article has helped you focus in on which might be most beneficial to you.

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About The Author

Tyson Sewell

Tyson Sewell

I’m Tyson and I design furniture. More specifically, I design ergonomic furniture intended to improve the comfort and aesthetics of sit stand desks, ergonomic chairs and accessories.
You may learn more about my story by reading my bio here. Have a productive day!