Ergotron has been making workstations for Apple machines for years, so it's no surprise that its latest products are perfect for the current line of Macs. Today I'll be providing information on the Ergotron WorkFit-P Sit-Stand workstation (US$299), an innovative idea to help knowledge workers get on their feet for at least part of the day while working instead of being glued to a desk chair.
The evidence that sitting too much can be seriously bad for your health has been mounting for years. JustStand.org has some amazing numbers on the health hazards of sitting for prolonged periods every day -- a 2010 American Cancer Society study that was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology noted that women who sat more than six hours per day were 94 percent more likely to die during the study period than physically active counterparts who sat less for less than three hours each day. Martha Grogan, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, said that "For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking".
The idea behind the WorkFit-P is that you can spend part of your day slouched in your office chair staring at your MacBook, but then have the laptop raised to a comfortable height for standup work the rest of the day. Installing the WorkFit-P is quite easy, with two different methods available. First, if your desk has a pass-through hole for cables and whatnot, there's a special mount included for that. If it doesn't, then there's a strong metal piece with three screw-down clamps on it.
I had some issues with the clamp method, primarily because my desk has a three-inch tall "lip" underneath the desk surface that kept me from using one of the clamps. However, just using two of the clamps, the WorkFit-P is still very stable and it's certainly not going anywhere. Ergotron includes all necessary hardware to install the stand, including several tools for tightening up the various screws and clamps.
The surface of the WorkFit-P stand is a solid slab of aluminum that appears to be large enough to even hold one of the old 17-inch MacBook Pros. With a 13-inch MacBook Pro, the laptop had a good six-inches of space on either side when placed in the middle of the work surface. The aluminum surface is a perfect match to that of the MacBook Pro.
So what holds up that aluminum slab? An impressively designed piece of hardware consisting of an adjustable arm. There's a cylindrical piece that sticks up from the desk mount about a foot. Attached to that is a rotating arm that can swivel a full 360° -- think of it as a very loose "shoulder". From that shoulder extends an arm that can be adjusted down to a desktop level or a high up as you find comfortable. The arm ends in a "wrist and hand" that holds up the slab, the "wrist" being able to swivel left or right as needed.
Adjust the arm into a position and the entire assemblage stays put. Even putting a little bit more weight on the workstation surface -- say, a full coffee mug -- didn't move it. But if you need to adjust the surface or push it back down to a desktop level, just give it a good push and it moves accordingly. I did notice a slight amount of movement of the surface while typing, but it was very negligible and I got used to it right away.
Now I usually do most of my work on a self-owned iMac (27-inch), but I have a corporately-owned MacBook Pro with Retina display that I use for work on our parent company's VPN. What I've started doing is sharing time between the two computers -- spending part of the time sitting at the "main" computer, but then trying to spend as much time as possible standing at the WorkFit-P to do writing. I'm finding that this is a very comfortable and surprisingly natural way to work.
There's one side benefit of using the WorkFit-P and the MacBook Pro while standing. Sometimes while working on my iMac and find myself needing to look up slightly as the top of the 27-inch display is above my sight line. After a few hours of working at the iMac, I usually find that my neck and shoulders are killing me -- probably thanks to a pinched nerve I've had in my neck for about half of my life. When I'm standing at the WorkFit-P and typing on the MacBook Pro, my sight line is pointed down somewhat, taking pressure off of that nerve and lessening the pain. That in itself is enough of a motivation for me to spend at least part of the day standing and typing.
While I was thinking about spending a lot of money on a high-end ergonomic chair, I think the WorkFit-P is a much more affordable and healthy alternative. Between helping to strengthen my legs and taking pressure off of my neck, standing part of the work day is already having some very positive effects on my well-being. Oh, and there's one other healthy benefit -- standing up while working burns more calories than sitting around.
Desktop Mac owners shouldn't feel left out; Ergotron also makes a number of different WorkFit models that can hold multiple monitors or even -- in the case of the WorkFit-A -- an iMac.
Ergotron's WorkFit-P Sit-Stand workstation is an affordable and beautifully-designed piece of hardware for making your work life as comfortable and ergonomic as possible. Anyone who spends a good portion of his or her day working on a MacBook should consider the benefits of a standup/sitdown work surface like the WorkFit-P.
Rating: 4 stars out of 4 stars possible