I’m a big fan of standing desks. Although their direct benefits over sitting are somewhat iffy, they encourage you to move around and be just a little more active.
And yet, even though I’ve spent most of my work hours standing for about a year now, I still sometimes need to sit down when writing a longer post, and other times I’m even more productive from the comfort of my own bed.
Basically, I work better in different positions depending on what I’m doing, but it’s inconvenient having to constantly switch my desk height and chair position.
Now a company called Altwork is looking to make it convenient to comfortably work in pretty much any position you like with the Altwork Station, which electronically switches between standing, sitting and – the best part – a floating reclining ‘focus’ mode that feels ripped straight out of a sci-fi movie.
I was able to go hands-on (back-on? butt-on?) with the Station, and though I couldn’t test it out for an extended period of time in an actual work environment, it kind of blew my mind with its comfort and adjustability in the brief period I did spend with it.
In the sitting mode, it’s a nifty desk and chair combination. It provided great lumbar and neck support, and the back angle and footrest are adjustable via a control panel on the left of the desk. You can both position and angle the desk and monitor at any height you like simply by moving them manually, including angling them outwards to collaborate with a coworker.
Press a switch on the control panel, and the desk will transform into a standing mode, positioning the monitor and desk higher than before. You fold out the desk, and are able to use it as you would any other standing desk.
The really cool part, however, comes with the ‘focus’ mode. Press the appropriate button, and the chair will start to lean back while raising your feet. Meanwhile, you monitor and desk are rotated and automatically angled towards you.
Impressively, Altwork says it maintains the same monitor distance and angle from your eyes throughout all of the Station’s position.
It’s a little jarring the first time you try it out – I’m not used to my chair being the one moving me – but it basically ends up feeling like you’re floating in mid-air. It’s supremely comfortable, and the ‘focus’ title immediately makes sense’ – your eyes are angled away from distractions, and you’re extremely comfortable throughout.
There are a lot of other neat touches showing the thoroughness that went into it. For example, in any position, you can adjust the back and foot rest angle to your liking, and then save your preferences onto the control panel. Also, when you angle the desk, your keyboard and mouse are held on the table by surprisingly sturdy magnets, and you can even mount two separate monitors if that’s your thing.
Oh, and there are various color options too.
Throughout the entire process, the Station felt like the most comfortable chair I’d ever worked in, and the transitions between positions happened in just a few seconds. It all fits within a relatively compact 18 ft square radius, and its easy to move around with lockable wheels.
All this comes for a price: $3900 for early adopters, and $5900 for final retail when it launches in mid-2016. That may seem a lot for someone to spend on a desk and chair, but people already spend thousands of dollars on weird ergonomic setups (looking at you, Silicon Valley).
Unlike other ergonomic solutions, Altwork’s Station has the advantage of being actually being able to dynamically switch between various configurations that all make sense in their own way. I could easily see myself using it each of the positions: standing for general work, sitting for longer pieces, and focus for time-crunched features… and maybe a little gaming too.
If you’re someone that spends several hours doing high-intensity work in front of a computer and has the budget, it’s definitely worth looking into. You can can pre-order or find out more at Altwork’s website below.