Setting up an ergonomic desk at home doesn’t have to be expensive or take a lot of time to put together. This page will provide tips on how to help ensure you are working from an ergonomic home set-up. It will also include advice on adjusting your environment to work ergonomically, with suggestions on useful products to consider.
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How an ergonomic home office can prevent injuries and health risks.
Why adequate back support is important and how to tell if your back is fully supported.
Find out how to tell if your home office chair is the right height.
Read our tips on keeping your desk organised and the importance of having a clutter-free workspace.
Read how to tell if your desk is the right height and tips on adjusting your laptop and desk height.
Frequently asked questions on setting up an ergonomic home office.
Why is it important to ensure your home office is ergonomic?
An ergonomic home office can ensure you work comfortably and that your equipment supports your needs. It also prevents the risks of injuries, including the following:
Repetitive strain injury
Repetitive strain injury refers to injuries that are caused by repetitive movements or activities that involve working in an awkward position.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is pressure on a nerve in the wrist, commonly causing pain and numbness in your hands and fingers. It is often caused by repeatedly doing the same hand movements that can cause swelling, thickening or irritation of membranes around the tendons.
Back and neck ache
Back and neck ache are commonly caused by straining to look at your computer and slouching throughout the day.
Computer vision syndrome
Computer vision syndrome symptoms include headaches, eye strain, eye fatigue and dry eyes. It is often caused by looking at a monitor that is bright and sitting too close to a computer.
What should be included in a home office?
You don’t always have to spend a lot to create an ergonomic home office. It also doesn’t have to be a separate room – a space in your lounge or kitchen with the correct equipment is acceptable. An ideal home office should include the basic support and equipment you need to work comfortably and safely. Your home office environment should feature the following:
A chair with adequate back support
The lumbar spine has an inward curve, and sitting for long periods without support for this curve tends to lead to slouching, which flattens the natural curve and strains the structures in the lower spine.
Your home office should include a chair that provides back support. Your hips should reach the back of your chair, and the chair should fully support the natural curve of your spine. If you can’t get a chair with back support, place a pillow or cushion at the back of your chair to support your back. This is particularly important if you are working from an uncomfortable kitchen or dining chair, as they tend to lack back support.
Your chair should also ideally have armrests, which help to reduce tension in the upper body and allow the shoulders to relax.
The correct ergonomic chair height
The correct ergonomic chair height can be achieved if your knees are bent at 90 degrees and parallel to the hips. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor, with both your feet flat on the floor.
If the chair is too low, the knees will be higher than the hips, shifting your bodyweight backwards and puts pressure on the sitting bones. If the chair is too high, it can put pressure on the area behind the knee and hinder circulation.
When working from a kitchen table, an adjustable chair can come in handy, as you can lower it to work in an ergonomic position. You can alternatively find a lower chair and use a pillow to improvise back support.
You can read more about ensuring your home office chair is ergonomic here.
An organised and clutter-free space
We are more likely to slouch and strain our wrists and arms when our desk is cluttered and messy. We have to stretch further and ultimately end up in awkward angles when we are working in a messy environment. This can have a negative impact on our posture over time, and increase the risk of injury.
Products that can help to keep your desk organised
- Document holders. Ergonomic document holders provide a neat, organised way to monitor paperwork. Using document holders can free up space on the desk and prevent straining your wrists or practising bad posture.
- Cable trays. Under-desk cable trays are a great way to remove your power and peripheral device wires from view. They sit neatly under the desk and grab all the trailing cables neatly and keep them out of your way. You can view our full range of ergonomic solutions here.
- Monitor arms. Monitor arms can free up your desk space at the same time as ensuring you aren’t straining your neck. You can shop our monitor arms here.
Ergonomically correct monitor and desk height
Your desk is the right height if your legs sit comfortably under the desk when 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 should be between 90 degrees and 110 degrees
Placing your monitor directly in front of you prevents you from twisting your head and neck from viewing the screen. Place the top line of the screen at or slightly below eye level. You should also place your monitor at least an arm’s length away from you to prevent eye strain and headaches. A monitor arm can be a helpful addition for raising your monitor, so you aren’t straining to look down at your monitor.
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Adjusting your laptop height
Looking down at a laptop can be convenient for a short amount of time. However, if you spend a lot of time working at your laptop, this can lead to back and neck ache over time. For a long-term setup, consider mounting your laptop on a laptop riser and using an external keyboard and mouse. Alternatively, place your laptop on stable objects such as some books to raise the laptop height.
A keyboard and mouse that are easily reachable
The mouse should be positioned so that it keeps your arms at or below a 90-degree angle. You should keep your wrists in a neutral position, rather than bent up or down. Your keyboard should be placed just below the elbow level. It should be flat on your desk or gently sloping away from you.
If you struggle to adjust your keyboard to the right height, you should consider using a keyboard tray. Using a tray means you don’t have to keep adjusting your keyboard.
A location where you can concentrate easily
If you can, set-up your home office in a quiet area where it will be easy to concentrate. Ideally, you should work in an area away from your family or housemates, so you are less likely to become distracted. Ensure you consider the lighting around you – too much natural light and bright lighting can cause headaches. Adjust the lighting on your computer to reduce blue light, and ensure you can clearly see the screen without straining your eyes.
Setting up an ergonomic home office: FAQs
How do you prevent eyestrain at your computer?
You can prevent eyestrain through the following tips:
- Blink often to refresh your eyes. It is common to blink less than usual when working at a computer, which can contribute to dry eyes.
- Take frequent breaks from the computer.
- Consider using anti-glare glasses if you frequently have headaches after using your computer.
- Adjust your screen settings to reduce brightness.
- Adjust your monitor height. Ensure your monitor isn’t too high or low for your eyes to focus on without straining.
Should your knees be higher than your hips?
No, your knees should never be higher than your hips. This can indicate that the chair is too low, and can put pressure on the sitting bones.
Should your feet be flat when sitting?
Yes, you should keep your feet flat on the ground while working, or alternatively use a footrest if needed. If you don’t have a professional footrest, try using a chunky book or bean bag to place your feet on instead.
How should you organise your work paperwork?
It can be a good idea to purchase document folders and storage items to ensure your paperwork doesn’t clutter your desk. Wooden shelves and document holders are other useful ways to create more space on your desk.
Is it bad to work from a laptop at home?
Working from a laptop at home isn’t ideal; however, sometimes it can be our only option. Ensure you aren’t looking down at a laptop for long periods, and ensure you raise your laptop with books or a laptop stand.
You can read more about working from a laptop ergonomically here.
Can I work from my bed?
You should avoid working from the bed whenever possible. However, if you are working from the bed short-term, you can read our tips on improving your posture in our guide to posture ergonomics at home.
Is it ergonomic to work from my kitchen table?
Kitchen and dining tables can be lower or higher than work desks and are often un-adjustable. If you’re sitting in a hard chair, put a small pillow behind you at your waist to provide easy lumbar support.
If your table is too high, sit on a pillow, so you are raised higher towards the table. Use a bean bag or some books for leg and foot support to avoid leg discomfort.
If you find your table is too low, try placing your laptop on some books or another stable object, so you aren’t looking down at it. For a professional product, you can invest in a laptop arm.