With more people working from home full-time or having a hybrid approach to office hours, the need for home office upgrades is greater than ever. Many offices were decked out with the latest gear and suave equipment – things that most people wouldn’t dream of putting in their homes.
But times are changing, and whether you want to upgrade your office or create the most premium gaming space around your 3090-filled PC, a desk is an integral part of that setup. It’s got to be a comfortable height, the right size, and it’s got to look good. That’s not a lot to ask, surely?
I tried out the FlexiSpot E5 Pro to see if it would really take my home office/gaming space to the next level. It promises a lot: from a five-minute assembly, to easy height adjustments, to a super stable base, it’s got it all. But will it hold up?
I can tell you immediately that one of those statements doesn't hold true. I consider myself a capable DIY-er. I can't carve a desk from solid blocks of mahogany (obviously, else why would I need this one), but Ikea flat-packs practically build themselves in my palms. Perhaps it’s a youth of following precise instructions on LEGO kits or a logical mind honed in the fields of Warhammer sprues – whatever it is, I’ll give it a good go.
The FlexiSpot, however, was another story entirely. It took two sessions of a few hours each to put the desk together – far more time than the suggested minutes. The boxes that the flat-packed desk arrives in are large and even individual pieces are heavy. That's likely due to the mechanical elements and keeping the large worktop sturdy, but I can’t deny it makes building the desk difficult.
Furthermore, the instructions are threadbare. There’s just enough information to go on, but more details wouldn’t go amiss. When the manual says, “adjust the length of the supporting beam according to actual usage,” I incorrectly assumed that it would be the length of the worktop – 140cm. Actually, it’s a slightly shorter length to where the pre-drilled holes for screws are.
FlexiSpot only makes a few sizes of desk, so it wouldn’t be hard listing the dimensions this beam needs to be lengthened to for each surface size. Better still, help the builder out by giving the beam slotted grooves that it'll neatly fit into depending on the size you need. Whether by instruction or demarcation, a premium product should have a luxury feel even when constructing it – whereas currently it falls short of pretty basic builds.
Lying on my back and shouldering a heavy worktop, while simultaneously adjusting the supporting beam, left me aching the next morning. However, once the surface was in place, that was my only option in my small office.
One thing the website isn’t wrong about, though, is the sturdiness of the desk. It is a big strong boi if I ever I saw one, and feels like it’s made of solid concrete. My previous desk was fine, but in comparison it shakes like a WWE wrestler has been put through it. The FlexiSpot is holding two large monitors on heavy monitor arms no problem, and doesn’t budge a millimetre if I shake, lean, or otherwise antagonise it.
How I’m going to get the behemoth out of my office when I inevitably move office or house I don’t know, but right now I’m glad it’s so sturdy. The 140cm by 70cm worktop is spacious too – arguably too large for my office space, but that’s a me problem – I've got my keyboard (with armrest), monitors, notepad, diary, and still plenty of room to flick 180 degrees with my mouse to score another kill.
The main draw of the FlexiSpot however, isn’t the sturdiness – as the name suggests, it’s all about the flexibility. That is, converting from a regular desk that you sit at, to a standing desk. For someone who spends 10-hour days at his desk, the option to stretch out, stand up, and generally improve my health.
Standing desks aid posture and reduce back pain, and some studies suggest they increase productivity also. While I would take these claims with a pinch of salt, I know that my posture is terrible so I’m willing to take any opportunity to improve it. And after my hours of piecing the FlexiSpot together, I needed the standing desk to fix me good.
While I was dubious about some of the health claims (productivity, really? Sounds like something to sell more standing desks to CEOs with too much money), as soon as the motors in the legs started quietly whirring, I was impressed.
Nothing on my desk moved as it rose upwards – my glass of water barely even Jurassic Park-ed and the noise was barely perceptible. You can have the height of the desk at anywhere between WHAT and WHAT, and set three preset heights using the controller so you don’t have to eyeball it each time. There's also a timer you can set to remind you to switch positions however often you want.
As an aside, my controller didn’t work when the desk arrived, there was an issue with the cable that connected it to the control box. However, customer service was quick and friendly and a replacement arrived just a week after I sent a quick video, detailing the issue.
Speaking of wires, the FlexiSpot’s most underrated addition is a rack that screws onto the underside of the desk. This holds all your cables and wires, keeping things neat and tidy and out of your feet. For someone who has long-running problems with cable management, this is a godsend. Gone are my velcro clips and random bundles of wires, and a neat, clean, cable-free workspace is here to stay.
Sit Down or Stand Tall?
I can’t persuade you on the benefits of using a standing desk - that’s for you to decide. I’ve written this entire review while standing at my new desk and it feels as solid as ever. I enjoy standing to work, periodically at least. It has the effect of going to work in a cafe for a change of scenery, without needing to leave the house, interrupt my day, or pay for a cuppa. It also allows me easier opportunity to dance at my desk when Raspberry Beret shuffles onto my Spotify, a clear plus.
The desk itself is very swish, and all tabletop options look the part. You can’t help but take yourself a bit more seriously when sat (or stood) at it due to its sheer size and weight - both metaphorical and physical. All I need is a brass nameplate and I’ll be a fully inducted Mad Man. The physical weight doesn’t make the desk feel top heavy or precarious, however.
Even when the long legs are fully extended the FlexiSpot barely shakes, which is arguably the most important factor in picking a standing desk. As well as taking the weight of two hefty monitors (and heavy arms), I can comfortably rest my hands on my keyboard without trouble, and a full lean creates minimal shake.
It’s worth remembering the pains of building this desk, though, which felt closer to the eternal torment of Sisyphus than the “five minutes” quoted online. One day of graft, though, for such an impressive desk? It’s a good deal. Grab a friend and a beer and I’m sure the process will be smoother, too. Not Ikea smooth, but getting there.
Has standing to work made me more productive? Who knows. Productivity is nigh impossible to define in the first place, and I doubt that standing up occasionally will help my Apex Legends tier list to rise the ranks of Google, so I’ll leave that one hanging. Perhaps I’ll come back in a year’s time, rather than a week, to give my final verdict. Or maybe my back will have been healed so much by that point that I’ve flown away, ascending the review structure we know so well to preach standing desks to the masses.
What I’m saying is, standing desks are hardly as revolutionary as the marketing makes out. However, if you want to upgrade your office space in the most luxurious manner, the slate-grey surface of the FlexiSpot is the perfect port of call.
Desk provided by the manufacturer.