Silicon Valley Coders Do Stand Up Work

It’s a new trend, but it’s not entirely new. Standing desks, that is. It’s easy to find examples of famous people who did their work standing up decades, even centuries ago: Michelangelo, Jefferson, Churchill. The new part is that this not-so-quirky idea is slowly taking hold in offices across the country.

But nowhere is it more popular, and gaining ground more quickly, than in Silicon Valley–which makes sense since tech companies are, almost by definition, ahead of the curve. San Francisco designer Yves Béhar hit the mark in saying: “Traditional office furniture isn’t well adapted to the way that young companies and young people like to work.”1

AOL offers its employees the option of standing for work. Google offers standing desks as part of its wellness programs. About ten percent of Facebook employees use standing desks. Facebook even offers treadmill desks, so people can not only stand, but also walk while they work.2

Yammer Standers

Employees at Yammer using standing desks. Photo: James Patterson

Motivated by Health Reasons

Silicon Valley employees responded to reports about the health risks of sitting too much by asking for standing desks. 3 They were concerned about research pointing to obesity, metabolic effects, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and shorter lives as a result of prolonged sitting day in and day out. The American Cancer Society got more specific, reporting that women who sit more than six hours a day are 37 percent more likely to die prematurely. For men it’s 18 percent. 4

Supported by Other Benefits

While improvements in health status may take a while to become evident, Silicon Valley workers tout the immediate benefits of standing desks:

  • They feel more comfortable and energized.
  • They don’t get the three o’clock slump.
  • They feel active all day long.
  • Their energy stays up all day.
  • It’s easier to move around, so they don’t get as stiff or tired.
  • Alternating standing and sitting eases back pain.

And all of these benefits happen to be great for productivity.5

It’s True

One Silicon Valley resident confirmed the trend, saying: “It’s true. I live in the Silicone Valley and most of my friends work at small start up companies and alternative seating i.e. exercise balls, standing desks, stools, and various new modifications are being tried as they build their companies from the ground up.” 6

When it comes to standing desks, it may be fair to say that as Silicon Valley goes, so goes the nation.



  1. Fowler, Geoffrey A. “Simpler Style Sits Better with Tech Firms.”. The Wall Street Journal. May 16, 2012.
  2. Carlton, Jim. “Standing Desks Are on the Rise.”. The Wall Street Journal. August 31. 2011.
  3. Carlton, Jim.
  4. “Study Links More Time Spent Sitting to Higher Risk of Death.”. American Cancer Society.
  5. Braaksma, Randall. “Get Up, Get Healthy: Standing and Sitting by Design.”. September 15, 2011.
  6. Braaksma, Randall.

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