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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

The Hamster Wheel Desk Is a Real Thing That You Can Build (for Humans)

person on hamster wheel

Sitting is the new smoking: You’ve heard this before, yes? The expression has been trending for some time, and while there’s plenty to suggest that this simply isn’t true, many office workers have decided that sitting at a desk for eight or more hours a day just isn’t desirable.

And so, they’ve taken to standing desks or in more extreme cases, desks that force you to move, including treadmill desks or the Wurf Board. In addition, many companies or teams conduct standing meetings, and getting up and walking around is cited as a great way to refocus if you’re struggling midday. So while sitting may not take years off your life, there’s certainly something to be said about the benefits of being upright and mobile.

And there’s little question that the open office has contributed greatly to this new manner of getting work done. Can you picture your team spontaneously popping into an exec’s office to brainstorm? Or a hamster wheel desk in a cubicle?

That’s right—the hamster standing wheel desk is a real thing. While it made the internet rounds about two years ago, it’s making them again—getting us interested in the concept all over again. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best examples of taking your office’s comfort situation into your own hands. (This makes your request to the office manager for a little lumbar support look way more appealing, no?)

Skateboard wheels are what allow the wheel, which doesn’t have a brake in fact, to go round. The cool thing about the wheel is that, unlike the treadmill desk, it’s designed to be replicated—it’s also a lot cheaper. The creators provide clear instructions on the website Instructables if you’re so inclined to try it (and are at least a little bit crafty and resourceful). Of course, you shouldn’t need me to tell you that checking with your boss or HR before you go out and buy a bunch of plywood is in your best interest.

Fortunately, many organizations recognize the importance of allowing employees to carve out space that works for them. Whether that means bringing in a small ottoman and placing it under your desk or outfitting your area with items that bring you joy, the open office often leaves room for interpretation.

In spite of its drawbacks—it’s noisy, there’s no privacy, your space is mostly all shared—the increasingly popular workspace may have some advantages, after all. If one of the arguments for keeping things open is increased creativity, who’s to say this where that creativity line should be drawn?