How to ensure your desk is ergonomic: requirements and tips

Having the appropriate furniture and equipment allows you to improve the set-up of your workstation, increasing comfort, and reducing the risk of injury. It is also important to ensure the positioning of a desk supports your needs and prevents injury. This section will explain the correct ergonomic desk setup, covering the features needed for a desk setup and office chair to be ergonomic. We also cover how to ensure your desk is positioned at the right height.

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Find out the functions of an ergonomic desk and the importance of ensuring a desk is ergonomic.

The correct desk height, monitor placement and ergonomic chair requirements.

Guidance on features including the depth of the seat and required back support.

Techniques and desk setup tips for preventing elbow pain.

Find out whether hot desks are an ergonomic option.

Considerations for setting up a desk with a laptop and how to ensure the setup is ergonomic.

What is a sit-stand desk and what are the benefits of working at a sit-stand desk?

  • Is a keyboard tray necessary?

Find out how a keyboard tray can help ensure your keyboard is at the right height and prevent injury.

  • What are the benefits of a wrist rest?

Find out what a wrist rest is and the benefits of using one.

What is an ergonomic desk?

An ergonomic desk is designed to prevent the user from getting injured or working at an uncomfortable angle. They prevent common injuries such as repetitive strain injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, upper limb discomfort, elbow pain, neck pain, and back pain. An ergonomic desk also provides maximum comfort for the user, increasing focus, and work productivity. An ergonomic desk will be set up at the right height for the individual and the chair used. Objects placed on the desk, such as the keyboard and mouse should also be placed at the correct distance and be easily in reach.

Read below for the factors to consider when setting up an ergonomic desk.

How to set up your desk ergonomically

Ensure your desk is set up at the right height

Your desk is at the right height if:

  • Your legs sit comfortably under the desk if you are sitting with your feet flat on the floor. You should have enough space to cross your legs. If needed, use a footrest for extra support.
  • The angle between your forearm and upper arm is between 90 degrees and 110 degrees.
  • Your upper arms are in line with your torso. Your hands should be rested comfortably on your desk if your desk is at the right height.

correct seating

Invest in an adjustable desk if possible

If possible, invest in a desk that you can adjust throughout the day. Altering your posture can help prevent repetitive motion-related injuries and fight fatigue. An adjustable desk allows you to set your entire workstation height to precisely your comfort level. Adjustable desks and sit-stand desks are becoming more popular in offices due to their flexibility and ability to cater to the user.

Ensure the monitor is placed correctly

A badly placed monitor can be the cause of many health issues, including neck and shoulder pain, and headaches. Placing your monitor too close to you will strain your eyes, while placing it too far away may make you slouch forward. Your monitor should be placed at about 20 inches in front of you, or arm’s length. It should also be placed at an angle of about 10 to 20 degrees.

You can read more about the correct monitor placement in our guide to computer ergonomics here.

Invest in a supportive ergonomic chair

An ergonomic chair will provide the right support for your back, allowing you to work comfortably without straining or developing back or neck ache.

Read below for the features of a supportive ergonomic office chair.

You can read more about the correct ergonomic posture here.

Ensure the keyboard and mouse are placed correctly

The mouse should be positioned so it keeps your arms at or below a 90-degree angle. Your keyboard should be placed just below the elbow level. It should be flat on your desk or gently sloping away from you.

You can learn more about typing ergonomics in our guide Why is typing ergonomics important?

A keyboard tray is often an overlooked component of an ergonomic setup. Using a keyboard tray is necessary if you struggle to adjust your keyboard to the right height, as a tray means you don’t have to adjust the keyboard.

Wrist rests support your wrists while you are typing or using a computer mouse. This can prevent injury to the hand as it stops your hand resting at an uncomfortable angle. If you are experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome, we recommend you visit your GP.

Consider the lighting

Setting up an ergonomic desk requires consideration of the location as well as the requirements.  Employees often have to work under harsh, bright lighting. This can cause headaches and fatigue. Ensure the desk is placed in an area with comfortable, yet efficient lighting.

What features will make a desk chair ergonomic?

An ergonomic office chair should have the following features:

  • The correct seat depth. The ideal depth for fixed seats is 16.5, 14.18.5 for adjustable seats.
  • A backrest that supports the lower back. A chair that supports your lower back should feature a backrest that has a natural curve.
  • Backrest Recline and Tilt- an office chair should recline and tilt with tension to adapt and support your position.
  • Adjustable armrests. – Ideally, armrests should be both adjustable and able to pivot inwards to support the length of your forearm.
  • Supportive material and cushioning- cushioning should be comfortable yet supportive enough to protect the back.
  • Adjustable height. An adjustable chair will allow you to sit at the recommended height comfortably.

An office chair should also be ideal for the needs of the specific individual in terms of:

  • their body shape and size
  • their specific workstation
  • the tasks they carry out as part of their job

The more adjustability a chair offers, the more likely it is to work for different individuals.

How to prevent elbow pain

Experiencing sore elbows caused by sitting at a desk is known as “computer elbow”. The following steps can prevent the risk of elbow pain:

  • Relax the shoulders. Muscle tension in the shoulders can radiate down into the arms, so relaxing your shoulders.
  • Keep a clear desk. A cluttered desk caused workers to reach and extend muscles more often, The more the arms are lifted and expanded, the more likely pain is to arise.
  • Keep the mouse close by and easy to use. You can read about the correct mouse placement in our guide to computer ergonomics.

Are hot desks ergonomic?

In companies where staff members are frequently entering and leaving the building at the same time, it can be unnecessary for every staff member to have their own assigned desk. Many companies are now encouraging employees to work at standing desks to alleviate potential circulation and posture issues.

Hot desking can provide the following benefits for the company and the workers:

  • Workers can select the best position within the office to suit their own working requirements.
  • Different tasks require different working conditions. Hot desking can be ideal if individuals need to re-locate for various tasks. For example, a task that requires a lot of concentration may be done more successfully in a quieter area, whereas a task that requires socialising would require a different environment.
  • Changing desks provides a change of scenery. Moving desks frequently can provide a change of scenery for workers and provide a fresh mindset.
  • Hot desking provides the ability to have project-specific seating. It may be beneficial to organise individuals depending on the temporary project they are working on.

By investing in adjustable furniture and power modules, you can ensure each workstation will suit all employees. Adjustable monitor arms and laptop stands also allow the worker to set their monitor, laptop, or tablet to the optimal height for them to work at without putting pressure on their neck and back. The quickest way for employees to get connected and straight to work is with ‘on desk’ or ‘in desk’ power modules. Available in a variety of configurations, on desk power modules allow all electrical devices to be instantly connected.


  • Awarded Ergonomics Excellence by FIRA
  • 10 Year Warranty
  • Spring assistance for fingertip movement
  • Folds flat into 80mm of space
  • Integral cable management
  • Quick-release VESA (Supports VESA 75mm & 100mm)
  • Standard Arm supports monitor weights between 2Kg- 5Kg
  • HD version product supports monitor weights between 3Kg- 8Kg
  • Supplied with top mounting universal C-Clamp, Through Desk & Grommet hole fixing
  • 180 Degree lockout option as standard
  • Available in three colours, Silver, Black & White
  • BS EN 9241-5 Approved and Certified by FIRA

Find out more

You can read more about the benefits of hot desking here.

How do you set up a desk with a laptop?

Laptops are not ideal for a working environment, as they mean the worker is constantly looking down, posing a risk of strain and neck pain. However, there are no other alternatives to a laptop, we recommend using a laptop stand. This allows you to position the laptop at the correct height, reducing strain. They can also protect your laptop from getting damaged due to an accident such as spilling.

What are the benefits of working at a sit-stand desk?

Sit-stand desks are those that the user can adjust to sitting or standing height, enabling them to work while standing and avoid the health problems associated with sitting for long periods.

Standing more in the day can reduce the risk of conditions such as back pain, obesity and diabetes.

Sit-stand desks can also help relieve musculoskeletal stress and strain by supporting the user when typing on a keyboard, or when moving between computer and written work.

Encouraging more movement throughout the day, sit-stand desks reduce the risk of muscle stiffness and pain caused by sitting for a long time.

Active Electric Sit Stand Workstation

sit standing desk

  • Instantly converts any desk into a sit-stand workstation
  • 700mm x 400mm solid working surface
  • Quick and easy assembly
  • Comes complete with a single and double supports
  • Power-assisted height adjustment
  • Single option supports monitor weights up to 7kg and the double option supports monitor weights up to 14kg
  • VESA Compliant 75mm & 100mm
  • Travel range is 450mm ±5mm
  • Travel time is approx. 11 seconds
  • The product life cycle is 10,000+

Find out more