Bike Desks, Smart Desks, and More: 5 Strange and Innovative Active Workstations
The age of the active workstation is upon us. Treadmill desks, bike desks, tilting chairs, and other movement-friendly devices are taking offices by storm. But as the average American worker gets up and off their rear, let’s take a moment to commiserate with the first adopters among us. These brave souls crafted their own treadmill and standing desks. They endured ridicule and difficult assembly because they knew they were doing the right thing for themselves. But now? Their coworker owns a Lifespan rig, and keeps comparing it unfavorably to their first-gen walker.
All is not lost. For those of you feeling considerably less ahead of the curve than you did just a few short months ago, there’s a solution. I’ve crawled the web in search of new approaches to the active workday. Rock one of these setups, and I guarantee the respect – nay, the admiration – of your suddenly obsolete colleagues. Here are five of the most futuristic, the most innovative, and the most bizarre products and hacks you’ll ever see.
1. Rise of the Machine
Name: Stir Kinetic Desk
Type: Standing workstation
Office Cred: Enormous. Working at a Stir Kinetic is the rough equivalent of using a Ferrari as a golf cart. Coworkers will be intimidated, envious, and deeply impressed.
The Stir Kinetic may just be the shape of desks to come. Developed by JP Labrosse, a former leader of the iPod engineering team at Apple, the Stir comes with some major glitz, and a price tag to match. It’s an electric height-adjustable desk with a considerable twist. Rather than leave the sit-stand adjustment up to fallible, fallible human hands, Stirs will learn your work habits and then prod you to make the move. An embedded touch pad, and a software suite to match, allow this almost spooky personalization. No word yet on whether they also allow for full consciousness – just be careful about keeping your Stir clean and not too heavily loaded…y’know, just in case.
2. Clean Power…But Only if You Bathe
Name: Pedal Power Big Rig
Type: Bicycle Desk
Office Cred: Supreme. Yes, you’re powering your iPad with grunts and sweat-soakeddress shirts, but you’re doing it on top of a steampunk fantasy. An environmentally friendly steampunk fantasy.
Company Website is now defunct.
You power the desk, the desk powers your gadgets – seems fair. Pedal Power bike desks take the rotational energy produced by a user and convert it into electricity. They were designed to be porta-generators for off-the-grid use, but no one’s saying you can’t stick one in your office…
If you do, a 100W output helps you charge up your phone, tablet, laptop, or remote-control car. Already pretty cool, and it doesn’t hurt that the Big Rig looks incredible. Steampunkers, eat your heart out – big gears and industrial welds give Pedal Power desks some serious aesthetic cred. Plus, the company has some interesting things to say about their products; we recommend learning them, then repeating them to your jealous neighbors.
3. Pop a Squat
Name: Squatting Desks (no particular product)
Type: Squatting Workstation
Cost: $0 (cost in terms of dignity uncertain)
Office Cred: Entirely proportional to the squatter’s ability to discuss postural benefits while resisting the urge to wax poetic about digestive benefits.
Standing? Yesteryear. Walking? Psh, who wants to imitate Google. Squatting?
Squatting advocates – and yes, of course they exist – want you to leave the chair behind. But, while most of their fellow active-workplace evangelists generally recommend moving upward to do so, squatters want you to shape up by hunkering down. And, weird as it seems, they may have a point.
The squat doesn’t necessarily come easy to the average American, as chair time has tightened up our hips and achilles tendons. However, look further afield, and you’ll find plenty of people who treat it as their go-to rest posture. Squatting workers claim that the position opens up the hips, increases flexibility, and (of course) helps the digestive system operate…ahem…healthily.
4. Run for your Internet!
Name: Internet-Throttling Treadmill Desk (DIY hack)
Type: Walking Workstation
Office Cred: Minimal. Anyone capable of this hack deserves programming props, but there are few things sadder than watching a grown man sprint for the sake of loading a cat video.
When choosing between carrot and stick, most treadmill desk manufacturers take the stick. Sitting Disease! Obesity! Terrible stuff, but some people need different motivation. So, thought experiment time. Take a moment and name the one resource that could ever drive you to walk or run, no matter how tired you were.
If you’re anything like us, you probably said wi-fi – who needs food, anyway?
Which is exactly why these ingeniously hacked walking desks are so effective. Some enterprising netizens have turned their treadmills into connection-throttling devices. Walk while checking email, change gears for Youtube videos. And at all times, keep chasing that sweet, sweet internet.
5. Ma’am…Your Kettlebell is on my Prospectus
Name: Brooklyn Boulders Active Collaborative Workspace
Type: Gym/Coworking Space Hybrid
Cost: $21.99 for a day pass
Office Cred: Depends, how many pull-ups can you do?
We’re not huge fans of the exercise balls that grace this particular building, but everything else at Brooklyn Boulders frankly sounds pretty nice. This unconventional coworking space overlooks a full climbing gym, allowing you to work, converse, and watch people falling off artificial rocks. And Brooklyn Boulders does their best to keep you active on the job as well. The coworking area’s standing desks come with pull-up bars. Stop working, jump up, and put in a few reps – or, if you’re like us, stop working, jump up, and dangle haplessly for a bit.
Kidding aside, we’re excited to see what Brooklyn Boulders is doing, and we’re hoping it catches on. Active coworking spaces are set to become more and more popular as the anti-sitting revolution continues. Not all of them are going to be this funky, but we love the idea of gathering up crowds of active workers, even if some of them are just there to flex.