workspace ergonomics

Hands on a keyboard

Credit: Claudio Schwarz

Proper workspace ergonomics are a vital factor in a successful computer desk. They help make your workspace an enjoyable place to be, and will help you avoid physical discomfort ever becoming a distraction from your work.

Chair and Desk Height

Whether you sit or stand at your desk some of the biggest factors in ergonomics and comfort are the position of your arms when typing, and the position of your legs when sitting. The height of your desk and chair have a direct effect on both of these factors.

Chair Height

If your chair is adjustable, set it to the height at which your feet rest comfortably on the floor and your leg forms a right angle at your knee. This height helps relieve excess pressure on your feet, legs, and butt that can occur when the chair is much lower or higher than this.

If your chair is not adjustable or if it cannot be adjusted that low, consider placing something between your feet and the floor to use as a foot rest in order to simulate having a lower chair.

Desk Height

If your desk height is adjustable, set it to the height at which your forearms are parallel to the floor when typing with your shoulders in a natural position.

If your desk is not adjustable or can’t be adjusted low enough, then these are some alternative solutions:

A balance board, one way to effectively lower your desk relative to your body when standing.

A balance board, one way to effectively lower your desk relative to your body when standing. Credit: Gustavo Torres

Monitor Placement

With your desk height set properly, you can now focus on your monitor placement.

First position the monitor’s height such that the top of the screen it at or just above the level of your eyes. This will help you avoid the need to lift your eyes or your neck above a neutral position, which can quickly become uncomfortable. If your monitor stand’s height is not adjustable, you can make use of a monitor riser to help you achieve the ideal height.

Next, set the monitor at a distance from your eyes that will be comfortable to look at throughout the day. Finding the ideal distance takes some time, so you may need to experiment with different distances over the course of a few days to find the most comfortable position for you. Depending on how far away you place it, you may need to adjust your computer’s display settings to find the screen scale that is most comfortable for you.

Keyboard Ergonomics

If your work involves typing on a keyboard all day, then practicing ergonomic placement and developing healthy usage habits can improve your comfort and long-term wrist health.

First, ensure that you have placed your keyboard at an appropriate height relative to your body as described in Desk Height. Further improvements include

Types of wrist movements

Types of wrist movements

Additionally, a palm rest can be comfortable for giving your arms a break between bursts of typing. It’s commonly advised to let your arms and wrists “float” above the keyboard and desk while typing, rather than resting them on a surface. This can be less comfortable initially, but tends to be more comfortable in the long term if you are able to develop the habit.


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