What Makes A Desk Ergonomic?

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In today’s world where everyone is talking about work ergonomics, have you ever wondered what makes a desk ergonomic? We have done due diligence to research what makes a desk comfortable yet efficient for the workplace. This post is a compilation of our findings. You will learn about the factors that make a desk ergonomic and what you can do to improve the comfort and efficiency of your desk while working.

What Makes A Desk Ergonomic? The most important factors for desk ergonomics are the desk’s height and setup. An ergonomic desk has enough space under it for your legs to fit comfortably. The top of the desk is also at about the same height as your elbow. What’s more, an ergonomic desk has primary, secondary, and tertiary work zones to make work more comfortable and productive.

How does desk height affect ergonomics? How do you setup an ergonomic desk? Wat items should you put in each work zone of your desk? How should you arrange your desk to enhance its ergonomics? Read on to learn about these.

What Setup Makes A Desk Ergonomic?

An ergonomic desk setup consists of three reach zones. The first or primary zone is for items such as your mouse and keyboard. These are items you need to reach without extending your arms. The secondary zone is for items that may require you to stretch your arms, but without having to bend or lean forward. The tertiary zone is for items that may require you to either bend or lean forward, but without standing up. 

Examples of items to put in each of the reach zones are as follows:

Items To Place In Zone One Of An Ergonomic Desk

  • Mouse
  • Keyboard
  • Other items you use as often as these two

Items To Place In Zone Two Of An Ergonomic Desk

  • Notebooks
  • Reference books
  • Telephone
  • Stationery that you use often

Items To Place In Zone Three Of An Ergonomic Desk

  • The monitor
  • Document folders
  • Stationery that you rarely use
  • Personal items like plants or picture frames

If your workspace setup extends beyond these three zones, the fourth zone should only be for storage purposes. For instance, you may choose to install a vertical shelf for storage above your desk. 

What Should You Place On An Ergonomic Desk?

The ideal items to place on an ergonomic desk are:

  • The items you use for your work
  • Items that serve as a source of inspiration or creativity
  • Items that motivate you while working

Ensure that no item on your desk can distract you. That includes all items in any of the three zones or beyond. Also, make sure that you do not have too many things on your desk. See to it that the desk is well arranged at all times, but make sure this does not become a distraction from your work.

✅ Video – Ergonomics Expert Explains How to Set Up Your Desk | WSJ

In this Wall Street Journal video, Jon Cinkay gives a step-by-step guide on how to set up your desk ergonomically. Jon is an ergonomics expert from a Special Surgery hospital, so he understands this subject thoroughly. You can count on his knowledge and expertise if you want to set up an ergonomic desk. Watch the video to learn more about how to adjust your desk for your comfort and workplace efficiency.

What Height Makes A Desk Ergonomic?

The ideal ergonomic desk height for anyone that is 5ft 10inches tall or above is about 28 to 30 inches. At that height, the average adult can keep his/her elbow at about 90-110 degrees angle while resting them on the desk. Other adults who are shorter or much taller than 5ft 10 inches will need to adjust their desk’s height to fit their height. 

If your desk has the ideal ergonomic height for you, you will be able to keep your wrists and arms in their neutral position while working on the desk. As such with the ideal ergonomic desk height:

  • There will be no forearm strain while typing
  • You will not hunch or slouch to use the desk
  • By sitting upright, there will be no strain on your shoulders and back.

How Can You Tell If Your Desk Is The Ideal Height For You?

Your legs and your arm are the two places to look if you are wondering about whether your desk’s height is ergonomic or not. An ergonomic desk allows your legs to fit comfortably in the space under it. When you are sitting at an ergonomic desk, your feet, knees, and thighs will have enough clearance and your feet should be flat on the ground. What’s more, you should be able to cross your legs under the desk without any strain or discomfort.

What Can You Do If Your Desk Is Too High Or Too Low?

If your desk is too high or too low, check if you can adjust the desk’s height. If your desk is adjustable, simply adjust the height to fit your needs. What if your desk is too high and it’s not adjustable? You can adjust your chair’s height and support your legs with a footrest to make the desk ergonomic. If your desk is too low for you, consider placing sturdy boards under your desk’s legs to raise the height.

Are Adjustable Desks The Best For Workstation Ergonomics?

Desks with an adjustable height are the best for workstation ergonomics. Such desks allow you to customize the height of your workstation for your comfort. You can also adjust the desk’s height for different tasks. What’s more, you can alternate between standing up and sitting down while working.

There are several things to do at your workstation and a fixed desk height cannot be ergonomic for these different tasks. Activities like writing, typing, reading, typing, and viewing the computer screen all require different desk heights. As such, an adjustable height workstation desk will offer you the best ergonomics. You increase and decrease the desk’s height to the ideal height for these different activities, as well as for standing and sitting.

What Are The Benefits of Using An Adjustable Desk?

Some of the benefits of using an adjustable desk for your workstation are as follows:

  • Adjusting your workstation height to fit each activity helps fight fatigue and improves workplace efficiency.
  • Changing your posture from time to time while working helps prevent injuries caused by repetitive motion.
  • Experts have linked sitting down at the desk all day with higher risks of hypertension, lower back problems, and early death. Using an adjustable desk helps reduce these risks.

Related Questions

What Is The Proper Ergonomics For Sitting At A Desk?

Sitting upright is the proper ergonomics for sitting at a desk. This helps prevent spinal stress and long-term postural issues. While sitting at your desk, make sure to lean on the backrest. Your upper back and buts should be straight against the chair’s backrest. You can support your mid back with a pillow for the comfort of your spine.

What Is Monitor Ergonomic?

An ergonomic computer or monitor is one whose screen is adjustable. That is, you can adjust the position and angle of the screen for optimum comfort and efficiency whenever you are working on the computer. The ideal distance between you and the monitor should be about an arm’s length while sitting. What’s more, the top of the screen should be at your eye level.

Are Standing Desks Better?

Experts say that standing desks are better than sitting desks in several ways. According to research, standing desks can increase workplace productivity by as much as 45%. What’s more, standing desks ease back pain. By keeping you on your feet, standing desks generally encourage more movement. That, in turn, helps reduce the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle and long hours of sitting.


The desk is, without a doubt, the most important piece in your workstation. When you have an ergonomic desk, you will be more comfortable while working and perform better on the job. In this post, we have presented tips on what makes a desk ergonomic. Keep all the tips we have shared in mind always and put them to good use while at your desk.

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