A floor desk is a desk which requires you to sit on the floor. They are usually lower to the ground.

I’ve always had a pretty big vendetta against chairs. With the amount of articles, videos, and research done showing how bad they are for our posture, you’re most likely sitting in one anyways because – how else are you supposed to work?

Four months ago, I moved to Seattle and I had to furnish my apartment from scratch. I knew I’d be working from home a lot so I definitely needed a desk setup that I was happy with. After everything I heard about chairs, I really wasn’t motivated to pay a lot for the traditional desk + chair set up. After all, if I’m going to spend 8+ hours a day on it, is there really no other healthier/more sustainable option?

My problem was simple: give me a desk setup where I can work for a long time and not suffer from poor posture.

After doing a bunch of research – I came to two serious options: standing desks or floor desks. I’ve tried a standing desk before and, honestly, it gets pretty tiring quickly. And if I do get tired of standing, I’d go right back to sitting in a chair that probably isn’t good for me.

A floor desk setup seemed really exciting though. A set up where you sit as you would naturally … on the floor. No chair necessary. And your posture would probably be healthy since there are plenty of ways to sit that keep your back aligned.

And so, four months ago, I decided to take the floor desk path and here’s been my experience. For reference, this is what my setup looks like now:

current set up

The Pros

Encourages better posture almost all of the time:

When you send a floor desk, you really will be more likely to sit in healthier ways. This is because there’s only so many ways to sit (criss-crossed, on your knees, or one leg out) such that your arms are at the same height over the table. Any slouchy position will leave you uneven up top so it’s hard to type or do anything. Still if you want, you could find a super lazy way to, I guess.

It’s really cozy:

Floor desks are really customizable. With chairs, you have to buy a whole new chair if you don’t like the old one. Here, you choose what you’re sitting on, the look and feel, the elevation, etc. You could honestly put a memory foam bed on the floor and have that be your seat if that’s what you liked.

Moreover, when you’re working in one, your legs are tucked between the desk and the floor which makes it feel like the desk is wrapped around you – which feels pretty cozy.

You learn that there is no one good posture:

Avoiding back pain requires you to stay moving to avoid putting stress on any one part of your back – a big reason why chairs suck since we’re bound to one position all day. With a floor desk, instead of reminding yourself to get up and take a break, you’ll naturally just switch sitting positions after a while (more on this later) and feel refreshed enough to keep going.

It’s Cheaper:

You don’t pay for a chair, and you will most likely get a cheap coffee table or just a desk slab – much cheaper than an adjustable desk + chair set up.

The Cons

Getting up is a lot of work – more than from a chair:

You have to untuck yourself from your desk and stand all the way up. You left your phone 10 ft. away? Sucks to suck. However, in my experience, this has been a good thing. When you start your day, you prepare in advance so you don’t have to leave. Getting up multiple times is just a waste of energy. And because you’re stuck to your desk, you’re more focused.

Can be tiring/distracting:

When you sit at a floor desk, unless you’re really flexible, you’ll probably get tired after sitting in any one position for too long. This is because most floor sitting positions we know – sitting on your knees, criss-crossed, etc. are “active resting” positions meaning your body is putting in work to maintain this position. It’s different from a chair where you could theoretically fall asleep sitting on one – you would never fall asleep sitting criss-crossed.

When you first start out with a floor desk, you’ll probably be changing positions pretty often which can get pretty distracting. However, over time, you’ll change less frequently and when you do, it will be more automatic.

Legs fall asleep sometimes:

Self explanatory. I feel like this is also a flexibility thing. Sometimes, if you sit a certain way, your legs will fall asleep and then wake up when you move. This is the most annoying experience in my opinion since you’ll get really distracted by the pins and needles feeling.

Hard to share:

I guess since I’m at home I don’t notice, but sharing my desk/working with someone else would be kind of hard.

My Recommendation

In summary, floor desks are worth it because they:

  • Encourage better posture
  • Cozier
  • Encourage more movement

However, they still aren’t perfect since:

  • Getting up is a lot of work
  • Can be tiring/distracting
  • Can make your legs fall asleep more often
  • They are hard to share/collaborate with

Ultimately, the primary negatives are really a result of not being too flexible to start with – and that could go away over time. If you’re moderately flexible i.e. you can sit criss-crossed and not feel tension – I think the risk is worth taking.

There’s only one catch to all of this. People still use chairs. Unfortunately, I don’t think I noticed my posture improving significantly through all of this – since I still use chairs all of the time. I do feel better after a day of using a floor desk (legs stretched and shoulders not naturally slouching), but those benefits die quickly.

Maybe one day we get to a point where chairs aren’t the norm or they get redesigned. But for now, I don’t think I’m fully convinced of switching back to a normal desk.

Extra: How I built my floor desk setup.

It took some trial and error, but I saw some articles of people showing off their own floor desk setups. They were ranging from using desk risers to coffee tables to this really expensive table.

Iteration 1: Coffee table + Yoga Mat

I wanted a lot of table space for a monitor and stuff so I settled on a coffee table > desk riser. It had to be rectangular, and I knew since I was shorter, the height of the table had to be as low as possible. For my first iteration, I found a table on FB-marketplace that was 60in’ and 18’in tall for $25. It would be a cheap test run to see if it worth continuing.

For my seat, I used just a yoga mat because ✨ aesthetics ✨.

Iteration 2: Shorter coffee table + yoga mat + mediation cushion

My original table was still too tall, I could pretty much only work on my knees. Eventually I found a table on FB marketplace for $50 that was 65’in in length and only 15’in tall and that was that. I could sit in any position, and my arms could rest on the table so it’s no work to type all day.

For my seat, I originally only used a yoga mat. But sitting criss-crossed for long amounts of time was hard for me since my hips don’t open that easily. After doing a bit of research, I discovered meditation cushions solve that exact problem. They also add good elevation which is good for keeping your arms resting on the table. Here’s the meditation cushion I got:

Current Iteration: Iteration 2 + carpet + laptop stand

Table set up was already really nice at this point. It would’ve been nice if the floor was warmer for the winter. I swapped the yoga mat with carpet and added a blanket on the side for when I was working.

Laptop stand made everything eye level and really cleaned up the clutter on my desk. I highly recommend this especially since it’s not too expensive for what you get.