[Tripping On…] Makeshift Standing Workstation, Part 1

I received the loaner laptop and was told to go home immediately. There was no time to prepare my arrangements for a long-term work-from-home environment other than a phone call. By the end of the second day, my back hurt from having to hunch over my laptop. My solution isn’t great; three variably high cardboard boxes. But it will work for now. The goal is putting everything away when I clock out. Feels good currently.

I would like everything to be a bit taller, though.

Before our office was locked up, I recorded the sitting [28.8 inches] and standing [44.4 inches] heights, as professionally economically assessed. The keyboard is at 38 inches and the mouse is at 43 inches. The laptop is less than my eye level…

However, yesterday, I was at…

Right at 29 inches. If I want to sit during my shift, it will be at my breaks and lunch, because I currently have no chair comfortable enough to sit in for two-hour stretches. I use a red wingback chair with my avocational laptop, but I may use this set up going forward.

The boxes were a quick stopgap before building something long-term.

If this works for today and tomorrow, on my weekend, I’ll rearrange my living room to recreate this for my vocational work and avocational writing laptops. Having a separate space for each will be important since, especially if this is going to be more than a few weeks, I want a clear separation of work and home in my life without having to leave my apartment-mansion or compromise my life for my employer more than is reasonable.

I’m not sure how I’ll build out the space.

I guess it depends on how much I can rearrange. I’ve cleared out a good amount of stuff compared to a year ago, so I have more flexibility, but there are only so many places I can take phone calls overnight at home in the apartment-mansion. I need to talk at about a whisper when I take calls, and if I would have known this, I wouldn’t have picked overnights, since I wouldn’t want to accidentally disturb my neighbors with excessive volume.

That’s the worst part of apartment living.

It would be nice to make as much noise whenever I want, but more than that, it’s nicer to have the flexibility to live wherever I want for however much rent I’m willing to pay for compromises like ownership of property or whether I have a washer/dryer in the unit.

I will probably buy a place someday.

It depends now on how the market survives in however long it takes to stabilize. Will we be able to afford houses? For now, I work in secrecy. There is no telling when I might speak too loudly at the wrong time and offend the wrong person. So there’s no point in building anything fancy or permanent, especially when this can all fall apart from either rental or employment perspectives.

Let’s remain positive.

I took a call and felt comfortable enough with the arrangement. I’ll still need to adjust things, but my back is only mildly sore now rather than overwhelming enough to dissuade me from exercising or writing. I am talking at a low enough volume that all I need is to crinkle some plastic up against the microphone and I can replicate ASMR.

If I act responsibly, I could scathe by undetected.

The next two weeks for me, or two weeks ago for you, will be the turning point. Maybe things will be sorted out by then? If I would have thought that through more, I would have taken my possessions I left at work home with me. Others left hundreds of dollars of trinkets and miscellaneous things at their desks. Will I get to use my sit/stand workstation again? Will I want to…? Or will I just grab all my stuff and go?

For now, though, I’m used to standing at my office desk.

I encourage everyone to practice giving it a go. I was getting the remnants of past headaches in their old spots yesterday. Now, I feel the faint tremblings of those, but nothing special. I should be fine soon. I haven’t stood throughout my entire shift before, and it’s been quiet tonight, so I couldn’t say how things will hold up toward the end of this shift or my next shift.

It is nice not being blocked by my chair’s back.

I’m not confident enough in my stealthy abilities to do more calisthenics and stretches, but these things start off slow. Since this build does reflect a final adaption from my headache trips, I feel like it’s only fair to advocate against sitting for more than necessary. I look at sitting as leisurely, rather than something to hold you by through busywork. It’s too easy to let a chair suck out your energy and warp you through time.

Especially if we’re all working from home, standing desks help.

I’m over three hours in and my back is starting to get sore. I can feel the tightness in my shoulders where my physical therapy has focused, so after this essay, I’ll do more stretches. Part two will cover what I built out for my next shift and what I’m doing to keep my back, shoulders, and other muscles feeling good. I will probably use my foam roller on my lunch break to get a deep shoulder stretch in, unless I feel like it might be too loud.

I can feel right where it is, though.

Both sitting and standing seem to cause my shoulders to go inward. I can try to stretch them back out but it will take time. Still, having the range of motion is nice. I may, in future weeks, want to figure out an acceptable sitting arrangement, too. That’s the only problem with these three boxes. If I want to sit, I have to wait for a break, or shuffle things around.

This situation’s better than yesterday, at least.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal and professional experiences.
Inspirations: Interestingly, a while after I wrote this, I had my first headache in months because of the ergonomics, so writing this out became relevant.
Related: Other Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.
Picture: I was going to use the photographs I took of the space, but then I thought, you know what? There’s too much junk around to really make it clear what’s going on, I don’t want to reveal too many personal details of my living arrangements right now, so nah.
Written On: 2020 March 24 [From 12:10am to “I wouldn’t want to accidentally disturb my neighbors with excessive” at 12:30am. From 1:04am to 1:36am. Gdocs.]
Last Edited: 2020 April 03 [Adapted from Gdoc, so, second draft; final draft for the Internet.]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.