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My Desk was a Crate: Inside a Work-from-home Fail

standing-desk-crate

I fancy myself a pretty savvy independent professional.

I work out of coworking spaces, I know my way around podcast rooms and media booths, I moderate Coworking Convos with hundreds of space operators, I stream video and host trainings, I create online courses and resources, I run the Coworking Content Lab, I write articles, I make videos, I travel to different countries talking about brand storytelling and content, I help people with their marketing strategy and, on any day, I’m all over Santa Cruz, CA. connecting with a wide variety of people.

Then a pandemic hit.

Almost overnight, I became a work-from-homer who needed to quickly pivot.

The big problem was and is the pandemic.

It is serious stuff.

The smaller-but-very-real problem was that our home was not set up for working from home week after week, month after month.

The question became how to convert our guest room into a workspace. The general order of things went like this:

  • Rearrange the room to accommodate a folding-table-now-desk
  • Purchase a 100 foot long ethernet cable that now runs from the bedroom through the living room, through the kitchen, down the hall and ends at my workstation.
  • Wonder how to keep our cat Baker from seeing the house-length ethernet cord as his new favorite thing ever.
  • Hang art behind me to distract from the boring, mud-colored wall for virtual events
  • Make an “In-Session” sign to hang on the door during calls and events
  • Marvel as people ignore the sign
  • Talk to the neighbors about not using the table saw outside my window during work hours.
  • Try 26 different lighting strategies to find one that brightened the space without washing everything out
  • Get an app to adjust webcam settings as the sunlight moved through the room
  • Realize that the room really wasn’t working after all
  • Decide to empty the closet and turn it into a work room
  • Pull everything out of the closet
  • Order a cloth, brick backdrop to hang behind me
  • Wait a long time for the backdrop to arrive
  • Hang the backdrop
  • Refigure the lighting 26 more times
  • Admit defeat that I cannot be both in a closet and bathed in natural light.
  • Find one piece of cool-yet-not-distracting art that would look good on brick/cloth
  • Figure out how to get the wrinkles out of the backdrop
  • Remind our neighbor that the air compressor has the same effect as the saw
  • Move the folding table/desk into the closet
  • Work from the closet-now-work-station for a few days
  • Realize that the table is actually a terrible height for me
  • Fiddle with the chair settings for a few days
  • Decide that a standing desk would be better than slouching over my laptop all day

This is where things go so wrong that they eventually circle back to being right.

As one does during quarantine, I hunted around the house and storage shed for something that could work as a temporary standing desk.

I tried a few things and came up with … a crate.

It was not quite the right height, not quite the right size, and not quite sturdy. But it was better than slouching over a laptop all day.

So I made it work.

A few days later, I texted the above photo to my friend Liz, who is the force behind GCUC Community.

After some LOLs, she offered to connect me with Faye Stutts, National Coworking Sales Executive at Vari, a company that could definitely fix my standing desk woes.

Liz asked if she could send the photo of my crate desk to Faye.

I responded, “Does it make me seem like a hack or is it work-from-home funny?”

She replied, “It’s 100% funny.”

So off the photo went.

I was more than a pinch embarrassed, but I rolled with it.

Faye and I connected and we jumped on a call to talk about our shared love of coworking, Coworking Convos, and Vari’s standing desk options.

A few days later, Vari sent me their Electric Pro Plus 32 standing desk converter and It. Is. Everything.

In exchange for the desk, I told them I’d share my feedback as a coworking insider, workspace member and now work-from-home pro.

Rather than just give Vari feedback directly, I decided to share my thoughts here.

The Good

The desk requires no assembly. It comes in an enormous box. We opened it on our deck, lifted the desk out, put it in place and plugged it in. Easy peasy.

Standing desks improve health and wellness and have been found to improve job performance and productivity. I have definitely experienced this. Turns out, I’m really focused when I’m standing at a desk that is adjusted to my ideal height, eye-level etc.

I now stand when I’m writing, when I’m teaching, when I’m on calls, when I’m creating videos etc. Rather than sitting most of the day and standing occasionally, I stand most of the day and sit occasionally.

I wander over to social media and other distractions less frequently when I’m standing

I work in 25 minute worksprints more often. The focus that comes with sprints pairs nicely with the standing desk vibe.

I move all day as I groove to music, shift my weight and stretch my arms and back.

The desk has tons of space. It’s way more than just a raised platform. It is a total workstation. With the two levels, depth and generous width, it’s now home to my frequently-used cords and adapters, sketchbook, ever-present coffee mug, favorite pen, phone, headphones and more.

Note about the size: This desk is big. For me, it’s a dream desk. But if you’re looking for a lightweight or portable standing desk converter, this will be too much desk for you.

The desk is super smooth and easy to raise and lower. Touch the up arrow and it quietly raises; touch the down arrow and it lowers. Quiet, elegant, pro.

I can comfortably sit at the desk. When I want to sit down, I just lower it all the way and I have a nice little sit desk.

The Could Be Better

I’ve been using the desk for a week now and, to be very honest, I haven’t found any cons. But I don’t want this to be an infomercial, so I’ll share some could be betters:

You definitely need a monitor and/or keyboard and mouse. The desk doesn’t raise high enough to work just on a laptop on the lower level while standing. You’d have to put your laptop on the top level, which means you’d be reaching forward to try to work. The easy fix is to use an external keyboard, or an external monitor. Either way works and both are inexpensive or free, if you have them already.

There’s a faint chemical smell, which I think is just from materials gassing off. It’s less noticeable every day and is such a small thing, I’m hesitant to mention it, but there you go.

The Takeaway

This desk is wonderful. It has been a productivity gamechanger and I absolutely recommend it.

It is one million times better than my crate.

Thanks, Vari, for saving me from my work-from-home fail.

Your coworking space is amazing. Your marketing should be too.

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