Portable Perspectives From Your Standing Desk
In an increasingly mobile office environment driven by technology, employees want options. Sitting static on a chair while staring at three gray walls in a cubicle for hours on end isn’t just visually unpleasant — it can have real health implications that impact employees long after they leave the office.
Mike Bolos and Jason Grohowski have a solution to that problem for organizations looking for an affordable, health-conscious option to working from your stagnant, seated desk. Their company, DeskView, has a new spin on standing desks and offers portable surface tops that can be mounted safely onto windows so employees can absorb natural light and enjoy a view while they work.
Could you start off by briefly telling us about your professional backgrounds and how you initially came together to form DeskView?
Bolos: I’m an attorney by background. I was practicing law for a while and I switched offices when I changed law firms. The new office had beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows in downtown Chicago with a gorgeous city skyline. My desk itself, however, is mounted to a wall and has cabinets all over because we always store a lot of files. I wanted to have a standing desk for my health as I was starting to develop back, hip and shoulder problems, but there was no easy solution for incorporating a standing desk into my current office setup.
It was just over two years ago that I looked to my windows and thought “that’s a perfect space.” Why not use these gorgeous windows and enjoy this beautiful view?
Grohowski: My background is in commercial real estate, I’ve spent the last five-plus years moving offices for companies and brokering those transactions at Cushman & Wakefield.
Mike and I randomly met through a mutual friend who is one of Mike’s mentors. We started talking and I learned about DeskView and was blown away at the concept and how needed a product like DeskView is in the current environment. I’m seeing the way people work and how it’s changing so much, I’m seeing how all the offices are being built around glass, maximizing daylight that’s coming into spaces, putting meeting rooms in the interior of the space and glass-front offices. There’s urbanization happening all over the world where people want to live in cities for all the activities, food, nightlife and convenience. There’s this boom in commercial development as well with companies returning to city centers and moving away from suburban campuses.
Mike and I started working together and selling the initial version. We then linked up with a design firm here in Chicago and spent seven months prototyping the new model. The initial design was functional and had all the guts, but we felt we could improve the aesthetics. In January 2017, we finally landed on a design we fell in love with. A few months later, in April, we revealed our new design on Kickstarter. The reception was amazing and we hit our funding goal in 24 hours. We have been selling online in over 40-plus countries since.
Durability and mobility seem to be important aspects of DeskView desks. How did you balance the design and functionality aspects of your desks?
Bolos: So much went into designing the hold force and size of the working surface. I started out with these small suction disks that could hold 40 pounds and it seemed like enough, but it was very difficult to adhere them. I then went to the suction disk they put on the sides of cars and didn’t really like them either. Then I found the ones we currently use, which are the same technology used to install high-rise windows, and they are amazing.
After finding the perfect suction disks, we asked ourselves how far out do you expand that working surface? Some liked it a little smaller and some liked it a little larger. We spent months playing with surface sizes. We wanted people to fit a 15-inch laptop, a notepad, a cup of coffee and a phone on there — that gives you everything you need to have a very clean working space because you have all the key items at your fingertips.
Does DeskView have any plans on making larger versions of these desks that can accomodate dual monitors or phones? Are they optimized for cable management?
Bolos: Cable management is something we talked about for months. We left a quarter-inch gap between the glass and the back of the surface so you can wire your cables around without dropping anything off the back.
One of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country has asked us to design a larger custom set of DeskViews for them that we’re working on. We do custom desks for corporate clients who need certain sizes. We plan to come out with some different designs that can accomodate more unique window and glass arrangements as well as different colored tops for people.
Quality workplace ergonomics are becoming increasingly sought-after in the FM world, particularly with so many new technologies permeating the workplace. Why do you think that is?
Grohowski: I feel like employers are more focused on culture and happiness and there’s a war for talent — you want the best people. Not many companies want to have a ball and chain on their employees, they want to give them freedom to think and create. The culture is changing away from where work is done and more towards how work is done — efficiently and with optimal employee health and well-being in mind.
Forward-thinking companies are creating workplaces where employees want to be, not just during work hours. Food options also come into play with healthy food available.
Bolos: If you look at the evolution of the office, you started with a big desk, big phones, big computers and big monitors. Everything began shrinking after that. Our phones got smaller — we’re on cell phones now. Our computers got smaller — we’re on laptops now. Everything has shrunk and become portable. DeskView takes this evolution to the next level, giving you a minimalist, portable standing desk.
What do you see as the biggest benefits of implementing your desks in a workplace from the perspective of a FM?
Bolos: One of the great things with DeskView is flexibility. You’re not spending 600 or 6,000 dollars on a standing desk, it’s a much more affordable option and it’s one that doesn’t involve drilling or complex set-up. DeskView still allows people to work and have meetings at their seated desk with a healthy standing option on top of it that installs and uninstalls in a matter of seconds without leaving any marks. For FMs, DeskView is kind of a dream come true when someone needs a standing desk.
Grohowski: We live in a wireless world. You have fiber cables within your space and the power at your disposal is astounding. You don’t need to be hardwired and sitting in one location, but that’s what it all started with: I need to be near a hole in the wall to plug my technology in — now the landscape has completely changed.
With respect to mobile workstations and workplace ergonomics, how do you think the office environment will change over the next 5-10 years?
Grohowski: I feel like a lot of it is going to revolve around optimizing the workspace and making employees as productive as possible, but also maximizing the amount of employees in that space without being too cramped. Greenspace is also very important: live walls, outdoor areas, rooftop decks, air quality. I see those playing a big role within tomorrow’s work environment. Changes in lighting and making internal light mimic natural daylight as much as possible to help your body maintain its normal biorhythms.
Bolos: You will hear some theorize that offices will no longer exist, but I disagree.
The office will never go to the wayside entirely because there’s so much innate value in people seeing each other and talking to each other. I think you’ll see the office continue as a space for people to work, but it will be more malleable by allowing people to work from different environments within that space.