Ergonomic Desk Setup


In addition to having an ergonomically correct chair, it’s important to consider proper desk setup to minimize the opportunity for awkward postures that can potentially cause a variety of physical problems.  Taking note of a few key elements can result in less fatigue, more focus, and a generally more comfortable work experience.

The first thing to consider is the size of the desk in relation to the tasks to be performed. A desk that doesn’t have enough surface space results in illogical placement of components and devices, forcing the user to assume awkward positions to reach or see them.  

The work surface should be sufficiently large to accommodate a monitor that’s placed at least 20 inches away and directly in front of the person viewing it. If additional monitors are required, an angled desk should be considered, allowing for seating in the corner rather than along the straight edge.  Ideally, the screen should be at eye level or just slightly below that.

Other items on the desk should be placed within easy reach. To determine optimal placement of phone, mouse, and other frequently used items, simply raise your arms and extend them to each side.  While keeping your arms extended, move them towards the center of your body while noting the area that is within that boundary. That is considered your normal reach zone. Positioning frequently used items and devices within it prevents stretching and uncomfortable movement that can ultimately lead to stress and strains. Place items that you need less often outside of that zone.

You should also verify that the desk is neither too high or too low. Consider installing a height adjustable keyboard and mouse tray beneath the desk surface.  When typing, your elbows should be at a 90 degree angle and your wrists should be straight. Resist resting your wrists on the surface of the desk or tray while typing.

It’s also important that the desk allow for enough space for legs and feet. Do not store anything beneath your desk that would restrict foot placement. If there is not sufficient clearance for knees and thighs, consider removing any drawers beneath the desk surface. Another alternative is to remove the keyboard tray, placing it on the surface of the desk instead. If this option is exercised, the height of your chair should be adjusted to allow for proper arm and wrist placement.

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