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We've all heard the studies that desk workers spend far too much time sitting in any given day, leading to neck and back pain, among other health concerns. It's enough to make anyone want to consider other options, especially if you work from home and can upgrade your workspace. If you’re not quite ready to commit to an under-desk treadmill, you might want to consider starting with a standing desk. It may lower your risk of heart disease and your blood sugar levels, and it could boost productivity too, according to Healthline.
What's more, a standing desk doesn't have to look bulky or boxy. Office decor has come a long way from the monstrous corporate look of the ‘80s and ‘90s; companies like the TikTok fave Flexispot ($144) are beloved for their sleek and simple standing desk, while Uplift ($569) blends modern tech and customization with super sturdy construction (even if it will cost you a little more, starting at around $600 — but your health is worth it).
With these benefits in mind, we turned to an occupational therapist to get the facts on small standing desks, then researched the market to find top buys that won't overtake your spare bedroom, living room or basement.
The 7 Best Small Standing Desks at a Glance
Meet the Expert
Dr. Karen Jacobs is the Associate Dean of Digital Learning and Innovation, the Program Director of the post-professional doctorate in occupational therapy (OTD) program and a Clinical Professor of occupational therapy at Boston University. She has previously served as the president of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), and is an OT, EdD, OTR, CPE and FAOTA. She has been an occupational therapist since 1979 and received more than 40 awards and honors including being a 2005 recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship in Iceland.
She is also certified professional ergonomist (CPE), the founding editor-in-chief of the journal WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation and a fellow of both the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) and the International Ergonomics Association (IEA).
Are Standing Desks Good for You?
“We know that prolonged sitting is not good for our health,” Dr. Jacobs says, going on to cite a recent paper by April J Chambers, Michelle M Robertson and Nancy A Baker that found standing desks do change behaviors, and that it mildly effects health outcomes, with more rigorous studies needed to determine long-term benefits. Harvard Business Review also says that standing improves balance, blood flow, strengthens muscles and will help to reduce back pain.
(For more of Dr. Jacobs's insights, as well as what types of standing desks are out there, see our FAQ's at the bottom of this story.)
How We Chose the Best Small Standing Desks
A standard office desk ranges from about 60 to 70 inches across the desktop width. This is pretty big for small spaces, so we looked for anything in the 40- to 45-inch range. We kept our eye out for top-rated and best-selling ones on Amazon, and as always, checked reviews for standouts. Sturdiness was also an important feature, so we made sure to look for desks with heavier frame construction (thought it seemed to matter less if the desktop was solid wood or lighter-weight particle board). Mobility, cost and design were other key factors we considered.
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For simple and smooth function, modern and minimal design and a reasonable price, the Flexispot still can’t be beat. It’s been a favorite with Amazon customers and TikTokers since WFH became the norm in early 2020, and it’s still going strong. It’s not hard to understand why: It’s got a streamlined design that comes in several color combos (we’re partial to the maple desktop and white legs), it moves up and down with the push of a button and with a size that starts at just 42 inches wide and 24 inches deep, it’ll fit in most spaces without taking up too much room. Go ahead and get standing, already!
Electric standing desks are the norm nowadays, and while manual ones have their place too (maybe you have a lack of available power outlets), the ease of raising and lowering your desk via a keypad makes the powered version super appealing. SHW’s electric desk’s sturdy legs are crafted with high-grade industrial steel, and its electric lift system, easily controlled via a digital display handset, offers four memory preset options for effortless adjustments from 28 to 45 inches in height, allowing an easy and dynamic shift from sitting to standing.
This unique and functional workspace solution effectively maximizes corner space with a cozy, rustic touch. The electric lift mechanism allows smooth height adjustments, making your sit-to-stand transitions are quick and easy. This sturdy desk also comes with an extra wooden stand that can be used as a laptop riser or a storage shelf, and an under-desk cable management tray to keep your work space tidy, creating a calmer and more focused work space overall.
This one’s pricey, but it’s worth the investment if you can swing it. It packs in some serious features in a frame that’s just as compact as some of its more budget-conscious peers, including the ability to choose everything from the material and finish of your desktop (think everything from laminate to live-edge wood) to the frame and grommet colors and even the keypad color and angle. Reviewers say that the desk stays sturdy even at its maximum height of almost 48 inches, so you won’t have to explain a wobbly Zoom camera to your coworkers.
If you’re looking for a lower-priced standing desk that still offers the look of a more traditional desk setup (albeit with the ease of a motorized raise and lower functionality), Furmax’s electric standing desk is a great option. Like many standing desks you’ll order online, the desktop is a lighter-weight particle board material (not solid wood) and comes in two halves that need to be assembled. Reviewers say that the seam doesn’t interfere with keyboard or mouse use, and blends in nicely with wood-textured finished, and that sturdiness is not sacrificed at the price point.
If you’re looking for a simple sit-to-stand solution but are super short on space and only need a laptop, this tiny Edx desk is a little more than half the size of a regular small desk and could be a great option. It comes on casters, so it can easily be moved to any part of your living space (including being wheeled away into a closet or your bedroom if you want to free up space when people come over). This compact cutie lifts and lowers pneumatically—picture the same type of lever you use on an office chair—so you don’t have to worry about having it near a plug or dealing with an extension cord.
Even if you’re trying to keep things super streamlined with a small standing desk, chances are you’ll need somewhere to stash a few desk items. SHW has an electric standing desk option with a drawer, shelf and even hooks on the side so you can feel properly set up to work from home. With the extra storage space, reviewers say even the small 40-inch desktop size is more than adequate to hold multiple computers and a large monitor, and the built-in desktop grommets will help you keep your cords organized. One downside is that the desk only comes in white, so you might need to so some smudge maintenance from time to time.
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