U-Shaped Standing Desks
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The U-Shaped Standing Desks Are Here
The U-shaped standing desk was a natural progression from the L-shaped standing desk, which in turn was a natural progression from the 2-leg standing desk. After all, if you have the space and budget, why not go with the ultimate desk? And in most ways, a U-shaped standing desk is the ultimate desk. Some of them can lift more than 700 lbs with almost 45 sq. feet of desktop area. Some of these desks are monsters, in the best ways.
Whether to make the coolest setup for music or video production, an engineering bench, day trading station, gaming station, flight simulator, police or C2 dispatch station—or for that Lionel train enthusiast who just has to upstage all their friends’ train setups that don’t adjust down for little kids to reach and up for visiting NBA players—you can make it happen with a good U-shaped standing desk.
The only issue at the moment is the lack of options. Just like there was some lag time with L-shaped standing desks between when they first appeared and when most mainstream standing desk manufacturers started offering their own flavors of them, there will be some lag time until most companies develop U-shaped standing desks.
For now, outside of the iMovR Lander U-Desk, it’s hard to find a true U-shaped standing desk from a digitally-native manufacturer. Why does it matter if it’s from a company with e-commerce roots? Because a company with console furniture roots (manufacturers of adjustable-height desks used in places like 911 dispatch centers or financial trading floors) isn’t designed for the average consumer or business who wants to have a lot of product details, reviews and information about a product before buying. It’s designed for corporate buyers who will call to buy the desks in bulk, a year before they’re ready to move into a new building. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s simply a different business so going there as an average consumer and trying to build your desk is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
If you’re used to shopping through e-commerce websites, you’ll notice right away console manufacturers don’t have comparable websites. They’re often dated, hard to use and lack information. And it’s not just surface level. They’ll usually have worse shipping, much more difficult assembly (because corporate buyers ordinarily contract out assembly to professional installers), a lack of color or size options and much more expensive prices.
All of that said, you’ll notice most of the U-shaped standing desk reviews below are from console manufacturers and that’s simply because of the lack of e-commerce options.
Different U-Shaped Desk Forms
There are five main ways we’ve seen to achieve a U-shaped standing desk.
1. The ideal design is a full-surface U-shaped standing desk. For this type of desk, all three desk surfaces (the entire “U”) are connected and rise together. This is the best option by far, but it’s difficult to find one.
2. Another option is to have two distinct pieces of furniture. One is an L-shaped standing desk and the other is a fixed-height desk that completes the U. This is a good compromise because you’re still getting the standing desk benefits and you maintain some storage if your stationary desk has drawers. The downside is that your desk surfaces not all being the same height will lead to some disruption in workflow if you’re working at a standing height often.
3. The most common option for a U-shaped standing desk is to have three separate pieces of furniture. The middle part is a standing desk, while the other two sides are stationary. This is just a further compromise. You still have a standing desk, but now you have three surfaces that may not be at the same height. You do gain some more storage if both of your stationary desks have drawers.
4. Yet another design is a fixed-height U-desk with a standing desk converter built into the middle desktop. This design is really the worst of both worlds. You lose some functional desk space without gaining a solution that’s worth it ergonomically. If this option interests you, we suggest a fixed-height U-desk and a separate standing desk converter that you can place on any of the three surfaces that works best for your particular office layout.
5. The final design is semi-circle style. Like the full-surface U-shaped standing desk, this design has a big advantage of having the entire surface made from one monolithic piece of wood and therefore rise as one. It also helps ergonomics by making it easier to mount multiple monitors while keeping focal depth the same, and generally creating more of an “ergonomic arc,” or “cockpit” around the user. Since this isn’t a true U-desk, the surface area will usually be lacking.
With one exception (which we’re going to get to below), building a height-adjustable U-desk is going to be difficult. You might think it’s just double the work of building a regular two-legged standing desk, but it’s actually far more complicated.
First, you need to have enough free space in the room to flip the entire U-base over when you’re done assembling it; and at least one, if not two or three extra hands to do so without bending or breaking the base. Second, you’re going to need to screw the tops into the base while lying down on your back and scooting around underneath the desk (or if the assembly calls for it, you’ll attach the desktop to the base before flipping, and then flipping the desk over becomes an even more arduous task because of the massive weight).
The exception is the iMovR Lander U-Desk, which comes almost entirely factory pre-assembled and requires only 8 machine bolts and 10 wood screws to secure the side table to the main desk. The entire assembly effort takes about 13 minutes and therefore is much less effort than most mainstream 2-leg standing desks, let alone L- or U-desks.
Quality Actuators and Frames Really Matter
Quality always matters when buying a standing desk, but it matters even more when buying an L- or U-desk. Having four legs makes a U-desk as structurally stable as the Rock of Gibraltar but if the lifting columns and frame components aren’t precisely machined or if the desk isn’t perfectly level to the floor it can easily cause excessive strain or scraping on the actuators over time because the entire structure is in fact so rigid. So, ironically, a U-shaped standing desk isn’t something you’re going to want to put together using cheap, Chinese made DIY lifting base components. And that’s a big part of why none of these options are inexpensive. But, boy, oh boy, are they sturdy.
This is another reason you’ll want to spend time carefully reviewing the warranty of a U-desk before you purchase. For more information on warranties, be sure to read our primer on How to Compare Warranties on Standing Desks.
If you start with one of the reviews of a U-desk from a console manufacturer, you might think U-desk sizes and colors are extremely limited. That’s only true until the other e-commerce companies catch up. For now, the only digitally-native standing desk manufacturer with a serious entry in the U-desk category is iMovR, and so that’s the only place you’ll find complete configurability in size and color.
The Best U-Shaped Standing Desks
See our detailed reviews of each U-desk by clicking on the name of the desk in the review abstracts below.
Yet another incremental extension of the most advanced standing desk on the market, the iMovR Lander, this 4-legged U-desk comes 90 percent factory pre-assembled and can be installed by one person in just 13 minutes. This is not only much faster than most 2-legged standing desks, it stands in stark contrast to the usual two-hour, two-man installation job a “console” desk like this would ordinarily require. All the tech-forward features you’d expect to find in a premium standing desk, including Bluetooth sync to a smartphone app, are built-in. There are a mind-boggling 15,000 customization options available, yet this is the first “off-the-shelf” product in the category at a fraction of the cost.
The AFC Industries U-Shaped standing desk is a solid product with decent specs, but it’s not set up for an individual to easily build and buy.
Price: Contact AFC Industries for pricing
The OfficeSource U-Shaped standing desk has one of the best U-shaped standing desk designs but fails in the details and price.
The Bush Furniture U-Shaped standing desk is lacking in options for size and color, but the standing desk portion has a solid height range.
The Bush Furniture Converter U-Shaped Standing Desk has one of our least-favorite designs for a U-shaped standing desk because of its built-in converter.
Completing Your Ergonomic Workstation
Acquiring the best standing desk for your decor, budget and performance requirements is Step One. But making it a true ergonomic workstation involves adding the appropriate accessories you’ll need to keep your body in a correct posture, and have a neat and tidy setup. Check out our comprehensive guides to monitor arms, keyboard trays, anti-fatigue mats, ergonomic seats, cable management kits, power management modules, foot rests and under-desk treadmills for both expert advice and lab-tested product reviews of options in each of these categories.