Working Smarter or Working in Bondage?

Burn calories from behind your desk! Ever wish you could condense the hours you spend at work and at your evening gym sessions into one integrated, active lifestyle? Well now you can. Our Office Bike allows you to burn excessive calories, fire up your metabolism and your focus at the same time, to truly get to work behind your desk! - Autonomous.ai Office Bike

In my travels around the internet I bump into these “desk-cycle / office bike” contraptions every once in a while.

And I get the idea behind them.

So did Woody Allen - even back in 1971 with the Execu-tizer.

Yes, Too Much Screen Time

Yes, we spend too much time looking at screens. Yes, we spend too long sitting in chairs at desks looking at those screens. Yes, we could all use more exercise.

But while the creators of these bikes tout their health benefits (You’ll be happier! Less stressed! More productive!), I see them differently.

Not an Office Worker

Maybe it’s because I haven’t had a proper office job for 15 years now. Or because I haven’t had a proper office for 7 years now. I did build the world’s most expensive outdoor stand up desk, however.

Indeed, I’m writing this from the front seat of our campervan, laptop in my lap, sitting sideways with my feet propped up on the passenger seat (but hey, at least I’m fully dressed!)

But I’m saddened every time I see someone all excited about the prospect of pedaling away on one of these units while working at a computer at a desk.

A Dystopian Scene

Why? Because you are:

  • Still Indoors
    If you were instead riding a real bike at least you’d be outdoors, breathing fresh air, and getting a proper mental break from work.
  • Chained to a Desk
    Yea, I know - there aren’t really chains. But tell me you’ve never thought of your desk as a medieval torture device that you’ve been given a life sentence to. Desk bikes try to solve a problem but end up making it worse. We don’t need more benefits from desk-work, we need less desk-work.
  • Pedaling But Going Nowhere
    Biking is exercise, yes. But biking is also transportation. A way to change your view. See new things. Smell new smells. These may benefit you more than the actual calories burned. Biking at your desk is a sorry substitute for the real thing.

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It doesn’t take a giant mental leap to imagine a dystopian science fiction film where all adult workers are shackled into an office chair, legs pumping on one of these bike contraptions, and gazing at a glowing screen for all their waking hours.

Just add drip-feeding, waste management, and a sleeping position and they could be happy, stress-free, productive worker bees for years.

Another Brick

I’ve written before about how modern offices provide workers with the bricks to make their own pretty prisons.

Free breakfast. Nap rooms. Yoga classes.

These are all well and good in their own right, but they aren’t always offered to workers out of a complete sense of benevolence. Those bricks all need to provide the employer with a return on their investment:

  • More billable hours logged
  • More time spent at the office
  • Lower turnover
  • Lower training costs

So Instead?

If you find yourself eyeing a desk-bike and thinking it makes sense, stop right there.

Check the number of hours you are putting in at the office. What’s your non-work life like? Are you getting time outdoors? Or are you being “optimized for maximum uptime” - like a machine in a factory?

Look for ways to improve your world away from that desk, and outside of that box.

And maybe think about ditching that office job as a part of Ditching Suburbia.

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