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Standing on the Job
Think hotel lobby, bars and fast food ordering counters. Or even counter-top dining tables (I have one myself, which comes in very handy when you have a dog that stands over three feet tall on all fours). So how about a counter-top desk in your office that you can stand at?
Donald Rumsfeld, the US Secretary of Defense has one. And so does business owner Thomas Gimbel out of Chicago. And, unlike a counter-top table that simply has taller chairs, Gimbel (and Rumsfeld) stand at their desks. Gimbel initially got the idea when his 6 foot 6 inch frame caused him back problems no matter what chair he tried. He found relief only when he stood. So why not work that way all the time?
Now he does – standing behind a four foot tall desk. And it has actually helped his relationships with both his staff and clients. He states that, when he has a meeting with a client, the standing desk eliminates that awkward moment when he has to stand and great his client or make eye contact with them from below. As soon as a client walks in the door he’s made eye contact on a more comfortable level (although I would imagine he has to look down a bit on most occasions, considering his height).
The standing desk also makes a nice ice breaker when clients jokingly order a drink from what looks like a bar. Additionally, it makes meeting with both clients and staff much shorter and to the point when everyone has to stand. Now, granted, if the meeting is extended and in depth, Gimbel doesn’t make his clients stand. He also has a regular conference table and chairs in his office.
As far as his staff goes, the standing desk makes Gimbel more readily available, both physically (because he’s already standing and partly on his way when needed) and mentally. Not having the chair eliminates the desire to day dream or even doze off.
You’d be surprised to know (or maybe you wouldn’t) that Gimbel had to have his standing desk custom made in Quebec for $1,000. He couldn’t find one anywhere else. I guess it’s really not very popular… not yet anyway.
Obviously, it’s better for someone like Gimbel, who is the boss and often on the move around the office. An data entry employee, for example, would probably not benefit much from a standing desk. Realistically, she’d be miserable. Even hotel receptionists, who stand behind counters of similar height, usually have stools to sit on during down time.
But think about it. It really is a brilliant idea for the right person. What a great way to make sure you’re on task. And the added benefits it provides when meeting with clients are pretty nice to. It truly is worth considering. Who knows, maybe Gimbel (and Rumsfeld) has started a new trend. And maybe there’s a market for these that no one has tapped into yet. I’m thinking start-up idea!
• CNNMoney.com: A Stand-up Guy
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