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Why Don't Students Use Portable Standing Desks?

Having been infatuated with standing desks for years, I have always pondered why no students use standing desks in class. When I was at Amherst college, it wasn’t a huge issue for me because classes typically didn’t last for much more than an hour. When I started my MBA this fall at Babson, however, I sat in class daily from 8:30-12:30 with only one break in between. Having battled back and neck pain for years, sitting in class for four hours proved to be a huge problem for me such that I decided to create my own solution to improve my comfort and health during class.


My first class at Babson was Entrepreneurship and Opportunity which was taught by Heidi Neck who challenged me to consider: How might students use standing desks in the class and in their dorm room? I did my research, and found out that very few portable standing desks existed on the market. Further, after actually purchasing a couple portable standing desks online, I was disappointed by the value I received for the price. Most importantly, however, is a key feature other portable standing desks lack in their inability to adjust in height. Unless someone is using a portable standing desk at one particular table that is the perfect height, they will invariably be forced to use a their portable standing desk at a lower or higher than ideal height. Furthermore, some tables – such as many popping up in airports or Starbucks – are actually designed for standing. If your portable standing desk can’t adjust, you are out of luck. 


This concept of height adjustability for portable standing desks is not intuitively obvious. One of my early portable standing desk prototypes did not adjust in height. After using it for 45 minutes or so in class, I noticed that my neck became quite soar.

What is the point of using a standing desk if you are hurting your neck? What is the point of a portable standing desk if it doesn't adjust in height?

This pain led to an aHa! moment for me where I realized that any standing desk worth its salt would need to not only fit neatly in a small bag, but also adjust in height.

People vary in height just like tables do, so a portable standing desk must adjust in height.  

If you think about a traditional sit-to-stand standing desk such as a Varidesk, it raises up and down on top of your desk. The whole point of a standing desk is to adjust to your perfect height. One of the core reasons why students don’t use standing desks is most student do not even know that standing desks exist. So after doing my research and making/testing several prototypes, I learned that there are three main reasons why students do not use standing desks in the class. 

  1. Current portable standing desks do not adjust in height. What if the library has different height of desks versus the dorm room versus the desks in class? 
  2. Brand awareness is low for portable standing desks. Portable standing desks have not yet hit the mainstream. 
  3. Standing Desks in Class are Not the Norm. With the exception of a few select schools that have invested in standing desks for their students, it is rare to see students standing in class. 

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