Considering the amount of time that millions of us spend at our desks each day, it’s surprising how little thought most of us put into our posture, or what this sedentary lifestyle is doing for our productivity potential, not to mention our overall health. Post-pandemic, more of us are working remotelßy or in some sort of hybrid limbo between the office and our couch, but what is this doing for us physically? Colin Dowdle set out to solve a myriad problems in terms of how many of us work, and he found the Lillipad Standing Desk an ergonomic and space-saving equipment that can punch your ticket to success.
Colin Dowdle wasn’t an engineer by trade, he tells M&F, but his love of snowboarding got him started as an inventor when he put his mechanical mind to building snowmaking machines and ice rinks. What started out as something fun for his backyard soon turned into a fully-fledged business. In his biggest year, he, his father Jim, and their young colleagues built 30 rinks.
With a major in the entrepreneurship program at Marquette University, Dowdle has been able to combine his love of problem solving with meeting market needs. Perhaps his biggest Eureka moment came in 2019. As the coronavirus pandemic took hold and lockdowns ensued, Dowdle found himself sharing working space with two roommates in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago and soon found that working from home with a laptop proved to be crowded and hardly comfortable. The changemaker installed himself in his parents garage and after a ton of trial and error, launched what his website calls “the world’s best ergonomic workstation that doesn’t require a permanent location.”
What are Ergonomics and Why Do They Matter?
‘Ergonomics is the study of aligning the needs of a job with the ability of the worker and work environment to provide the most efficient workspace possible while simultaneously reducing the risk of injury,’ explains one study published in the National Library of Medicine. Put simply, when you spend a significant amount of time in one position, it’s important to make sure that your body is comfortable and supported, allowing you do maintain proper posture. Often, when people are working for long periods, they slouch or lean forward too much, putting pressure on the spine or neck. Bad ergonomics can also cause shoulder and wrist problems among other ailments. Fortunately, making slight adjustments to how or where you place yourself during work can improve your health and wellbeing. Enter Dowdle’s Lillipad Standing Desk.
“You’ll never see more than one frog on one lily pad,” explains the inventor. “And, they’ll always be communicating remotely to other frogs on lily pads. They’re very sturdy. When you look at them on top of water it doesn’t look too sturdy but frogs can jump from one lily pad to another without a problem. And then, what people don’t really know is that the lily pads in nature will always expand and retract based on the water level. So, the stem goes up and down, just like an adjustable table. We found it pretty applicable.”
Dowdle’s Lillipad Standing Desk comes in a 42-inch or 48-inch model to suit either those who are under 5’10” or those who are taller. Best of all, there’s no assembly required and they fold away flat so that when work is over, the desk can be hidden away. “So, working from home is not going away,” says Dowdle. “It’s going to be here. For two or three days a week working from home, that’s 40 to 60% of your entire workweek out of the office. If you don’t have ergonomic equipment at home, you are setting yourself up for a disaster.” Indeed, HR Grapevine reports that in the United States, around 149 million workdays are lost each year due to lower back pain, costing the economy $98 billion.
Why the Lillipad Standing Desk is Ergonomically Sound
Aside from cool features like USB outlets and surge protection, and the ability to purchase add-ons such as monitor arms, the Lillipad can hold loads of up to 350 pounds. Users are also sharing their satisfaction. “Awesome desk,” says Michael B. in a review on the company’s official website. “Helping my posture and easily compacts and rolls under the bed in our guest room.”. The Lillipad is definitely a hit with taller folk who typically find it difficult to find adjustable standing desks that rise to their needs. “So far so good!,” says Christine T. “I’ve had the Lillipad desk for almost two months and it has worked great. It is compact and easy to store. I’m 6’5”, and the desk is tall enough to work standing up.”
Of course, this positive customer feedback is all music to the ears of Dowdle. “I can’t tell you how many stories that I’ve heard, of buddies that I have, who were working from home from a dining room table, pitching long hours, and they used to be marathoners and now they’re not anymore. Now they’re chiropractor patients,” explains the desk disruptor. “And it’s just something that as a workforce and as a society we’ve got to recognize… that there’s a huge health risk here.”
Dowdle also points out that just like with sitting, when standing, your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle when typing. By offering the two versions of the desk, he is able to meet that need for our varying heights. Because of its compatibility with the masses, the Lillipad has found its way into businesses all over the country, not just our houses and apartments.
And, Dowdle has also found that users are finding some unexpected uses for the Lillipad, explaining that for many who work in the construction industry, his sturdy and innovative desk replacing the workbench. It’s also finding a home as a table for puzzle and jigsaw enthusiasts. Dowdle explains that flexibility while working and not being anchored to a char can also mean that you can keep your body moving more, breaking up that sedentary lifestyle. He’s found that users are able to move the desk easily to find not only better wifi positions but better views. With Lillipad’s potential to reduce pain and increase productivity, you’ll soon be thanking Dowdle for being a true “Stand-up guy!”