How I Became a Stand Up Guy in Business

By Scott Laich, senior project engineer at EFI Group

PHOTO: Scott’s hacked standing desk at EFI Group headquarters in Baltimore, MD. Some artwork by the Laich kids.

Even though my job as a manufacturing process improvement engineer is rewarding, there is one thing that I used to hate about it: the fact that I was spending much of my time hunched over my computer.

While the schematics, spreadsheets or any number of documents on my screen were helping clients improve their bottom lines, and while certainly I’ve been known to get lost in equipment layouts, viewing them while sitting at my desk was wreaking havoc on my body.

So, I did what any good manufacturing engineer would do. I started to search for a simple solution to a complex engineering problem – which, in this case, meant I started on Google.

What I initially learned was exactly what I had already figured out through direct experience. Sitting at a desk all day is not healthy (shocker). But then it got a little more interesting.

Research shows that standing while working not only makes your body feel better, but it also increases personal productivity, efficiency and problem solving ability.

Clearly, limiting my sit-down time sounded like exactly what I needed. But, truth be told, it was one final piece of data that really motivated me to become a stand-up guy.

I found out that one of the reasons productivity increases is that standing discourages other people from hanging out in your office too long. As your typical introverted engineer who’d rather focus on his work than talk to basically anyone, this sealed the deal.

Now, I just had to figure out how to build a desk that would allow me to stand while working.

Turns out, there’s a rather large community of technically proficient people with a passion for sharing what’s called an Ikea furniture hack – which simply means transforming a piece of Ikea furniture into something that better suits your needs. And, fortunately, there’s also a big enough subset of that community who, like me, wish to prevent their office from becoming a social hub to produce a number of articles on turning sit-down desks into standing versions.

The hacker articles gave me the basics, Ikea gave me the parts (thankfully without the misleading illustrated instructions and disposable hex key) and I constructed my own standing desk as an addition to my existing office furniture in no time.

I’m pleased to report that I no longer end the workday feeling like I’ve sat on a couch for 10 hours. And although I can’t quantify my exact increase in productivity, I can tell you that I get more done faster for EFI Group’s clients – and whether or not that’s facilitated by a decrease in average office visitor stay doesn’t matter. I work in a field where developing customized engineering solutions matters, where one size doesn’t fit all, and it’s just as important to think about what’s not working that well in your own space as it is to think about better optimizing your plant floor.

Overall, comments about my standing desk have been largely positive, falling anywhere from the affirming “cool” to the polite “that’s different.” But the most telling evidence of strength of concept is that two people have since built the exact same desk for themselves.

As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – yet I think it has more to do with the fact that I’m surrounded by people who make it their business to make things better.

If you think you might do better with a productivity-increasing solution in your workspace, call me. I’d be happy to show you how to become a stand-up person yourself. And, of course, if you want to put a brain like mine to work on your plant floor challenges, I’m already standing and ready to go.

No one takes productivity more seriously than our team. If you’re a manufacturing company seeking to increase results in 2016, contact Scott Laich at js*****@ji****.com.

We hired EFI Group to help us figure out a project and scope it, and I felt confident they would keep a keen eye on it. They had to deliver quickly and they did it well. They are especially good at project management when you don’t have the resources to do it internally. Reliability is the word I would use to describe EFI Group.
— Coatings Industry Professional
EFI Group is timely. We’ve had a lot of situations when we’ve been in a time crunch and they’ve responded very quickly. They are detail oriented and efficient. They’re a good group of people who also have a lot of strength in pre-engineering — the thought process to get to preliminary design and making sure we’ve investigated all the potential asks of a project to ensure we didn’t miss anything. They have great attention to detail up front which is very important to any project because having that detail-oriented deep dive into the pre-engineering phase sets the stage for the success of the rest of the project, making the process smoother and making it much easier to keep the project on schedule and on budget.
— Mike Quigley, Engineering & Maintenance Manager, Food Industry
I’ve worked with EFI Group for a while, so I know they have a good, knowledgeable staff. We know we’re going to get the results from them we expect. From my interactions with all the different EFI team members I’ve worked with, I know they have knowledge across many industries. Equally, I never have to follow up with EFI Group and, in some cases, they keep me on track.
— Ryan Fredsall, General Manager, Pacer Minerals LLC
We view EFI Group as a team that can dimensionalize our capability to execute projects. We can articulate what it is we want to do and they can take that input and run with it without much intervention from us. They’re able to move a project along independently and only engage us when it’s time to bring us up to speed or get more input to drive a project to conclusion. That’s one of the reasons I view them as an excellent contractor.
— Environmental Engineering Industry Professional
EFI Group has good engineers and good customer service. We know when we get an EFI engineer on a project, we’re going to a get a good job from them and it’s been a productive relationship for both of us — I genuinely like the people.
— Corporate Director, Project Management in Food & Flavors Industry
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