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Emily Wong and Kamsin Mirchandani try out Humanscale’s QuickStand Under Desk


30 Oct , 2018  

With a growing awareness for wellbeing in the workplace, sit/stand desks are becoming increasingly popular. So we invited Emily Wong, Associate at Bluhaus Group, and Kamsin Mirchandani, Senior Interior Architect at Swiss Bureau Interior Design, to try out the QuickStand Under Desk, and give us their thoughts. Also present during our review event was Humanscale’s Managing Director MENA, Frazer Butcher, who gave us a thorough insight into the product’s many redeemable features.


 

Wellness and sustainability are the current buzzwords in the regional design industry, and Humanscale’s QuickStand Under Desk ticks all the boxes in this area. It doesn’t hurt that it looks good too. After the success of the original award-winning QuickStand, followed by Lite and Eco, we did wonder about the need for their latest model – the Under Desk. Turns out, the key difference between this new entrant in Humanscale’s sit/stand division, and its predecessors, is that it offers maximum stability and can accommodate the company’s range of monitor arms for added flexibility in usage.

Aesthetics

The QuickStand Under Desk is a lot sleeker and easier on the eye than its counterparts in the market. It also sits on the higher end of the price range, so you know you’re paying the price for design as much as functionality. Probably the main query on all our minds would be the central column that travels beneath the desk surface, which has been the cause of some contention (mainly because of the need to drill a hole in the desk to install it). Frazer explains that the mechanism that is housed within the column counter balances the weight above, allowing for easier movement as well as a range of monitor arms to be used with the Under Desk. It also offers built-in cable management, creating more usable desktop space and an overall ‘cleaner’ work surface. So basically, that column protrusion is fairly unavoidable if we are to continue enjoying the additional benefits.

Kamsin: I like the look, which is a lot sleeker than the other models out there. It’s simple, practical, functional, and not too gimmicky. However, some people spend a lot of money purchasing very high end desks for themselves, and they may not feel too kindly about cutting holes in it.

Emily: My only concern is the size of the column underneath, which made me want to question the need for it. Looks wise, currently, there is a full black version, and a white and chrome one. It would be nice to see a wider range, or customisation options, to fit in with the design of a space. And if not the whole product, I would recommend that maybe certain parts be customisable, such as the tray.

Functionality and freedom of movement

In the Under Desk, a continuous force mechanism is enclosed within the central column that sits beneath the desk surface. This offers users extra stability and a smooth transition between sitting and standing postures without interrupting workflow. As Frazer explains, “The Under Desk is all about movement; it comes up with you when you stand in one super fluid motion.” This product also allows users to attach a monitor arm from the range offered by Humanscale, which opens up a whole new dimension of fluidity. Not only does the desk rise and depress in smooth motions, but now, the screen and the platform can move back and forth too, as well as be angled in any position (great for larger group discussions at the desk).

Below: Emily Wong, Associate at Bluhaus Group, with Frazer Butcher, Managing Director MENA at Humanscale

“The idea is that you can pull the monitor towards you, lift it up or down, depending on where you need it, and also change the arm to a single or double, based on your requirements,” says Frazer.

With 457mm (18”) of adjustability, the QuickStand Under Desk can support users of varying heights, and hold single or dual monitors up to 15.9 kg (35 lbs).

 

Emily: I stand pretty much all day, as I get fidgety when I sit down. And when I’m standing, I’m constantly moving, grabbing things from around me, and occasionally yelling at people! (she says laughingly). The QuickStand allows me that freedom, as well as the ability to see beyond and communicate with my colleagues, who are all seated. I like that I can just push it down without yanking a lever or having to press a button.

Kamsin: While I love the smoothness of the hydraulics in action, we have to consider the ‘lean-ers’. I have noticed that if we lean on the platform, it slides down. I would, in fact, prefer an option to lock it in place.

Wrist ergonomics

The QuickStand Under Desk is meant to encourage users to integrate more movement into their daily routine. As Frazer explains, the whole idea behind the Under Desk is to take a break from sitting on a desk and leaning over, by simply lifting it up with you when you stand. He further explains that ergonomically, your wrist shouldn’t be touching or leaning on any hard edge to avoid cutting off blood supply, leading to carpal tunnel. “The ideal position is to not lean on anything at all when standing, and pull the monitor towards you.”

What we loved most!

Emily: The fact that we are not relying on something mechanical or electronic to move it. In our office, we have an electronic version of a sit/stand desk, and when something goes wrong with it, or someone knocks off the wires when walking past, it takes about a week before tech can arrive and fix it. With this one, the only possibility of malfunction would be in the mechanism (hydraulics), which is probably still more durable than an electronic version.

Kamsin: I love how flexible it is and, having used it for the past two weeks, I like the ease with which it operates. In a design office, you’re constantly in different places – you need to go make a material board, come back to your desk to send an email, head back to see a client – and I found the flexibility really useful. In fact, my favourite bit would be the ability to connect a monitor arm, which gives you so much more movement.

Above: Kamsin Mirchandani, Senior Interior Architect at Swiss Bureau Interior Design

So, where would we use this…

Frazer enlightens us about the usage variations of the Under Desk. “It depends on the task. For example, if you are addressing clients, you may need the functionality of a monitor arm, but if you just need a sit/stand, a regular screen option is probably best. It’s never one size fits all.” According to Frazer, the Under Desk is a definite commitment, as it requires installation and manipulation of the original desk. So it works great as an option that is offered with the knowledge that whoever wants it, really has a need for it, and is dedicated to the cause of using it.

Emily: There is the possibility of installing it on one desk, with a couple of benches alongside, to offer the flexibility for those who want to use it. I don’t think companies would want a sit/stand for everyone, and this would be great in a collaborative space. We have about 50 to 60 people in our office, and every single desk is a sit/stand one. But at any given time, you would only see about ten people using the stand function. So maybe, rather than rolling it out as an option for everyone, have certain portions of workspaces offering this function, and this might well encourage people to actually get up and use it.

Kamsin: The Under Desk is good for an office that is already fully designed and furnished, where a client has an afterthought about the need to use sit/stand desks. This is where the Under Desk is a perfectly affordable and good solution. Also, it definitely targets a niche sector in the corporate world. A bank, for instance, would not be the right place for this, however, the creative industry, such as a design office or media house, could find much use.

Kamsin: This product is certainly not for the masses. If you compare the price to a regular sit/stand desk, it’s not too far off, which would make people wonder, ‘Why not just buy that instead’.

Emily: I would say, this product is currently for the design elite. I feel that clients still need to be educated about the ergonomics and importance of a sit/stand, and how it contributes to wellbeing.

 

Would you recommend this to your clients?

Emily: Yes I would. Especially now that people here are starting to think about wellness in the workspace. When I first came to Dubai, a product like this was still considered a luxury item, but it’s slowly seeping into the corporate world.

Kamsin: Definitely, I love it. And I’m convinced that once our CEO sees it, he would want several for our office!

Pricing

The Under Desk is a very nice looking product, and a fantastic option for a retro fit in office renovations. The price point is right for that. However, each office has a different culture. By international workplace wellness standards, around thirty percent of workstations should be sit/stand. Based on that, we would recommend this product in new office setups, but would hold back on installing it for every desk, based on the higher cost.

Also, for those who would prefer not to drill a hole in their desks just yet, there are other great options offered by Humanscale that are much less intrusive, such as the original QuickStand, Lite and Eco.

The Green-ness of it

How high is this on the sustainability front, we wonder? “Very,” says Frazer. “As a firm we hold this as one of our key values, and our declaration levels are one of the highest in the industry (about 60 percent).” The QuickStand is built with sustainable, non-toxic materials, and does not use any red label chemicals. A Declare label is available, disclosing all of its ingredients and encouraging material transparency. So the Under Desk passes the Green exam with flying colours.

 

Overall, we can say that the Under Desk is a truly well designed product with a low carbon footprint, that offers a much more varied usage of a sit/stand. And for that it is worth it.

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