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A Complete Guide to Ergonomic Desk Heights

Ergonomic desk height is one piece of the office ergonomics puzzle. Use this guide to choose the right desk for your stature and needs.



Did you know that the height of your desk can cause aches and pains, even after you leave the office? If you've ever finished a long day of work only to find that your shoulders, neck, or elbows are tense or tired, you know what we mean.
 
An ergonomic desk height can help you stay comfortable and focused on the task at hand. The secret is to find the desk height that works with how tall (or short) you are, and we're here to help. We are, after all, a company that focuses on ergonomics in the workplace.
 
In this guide, we’ll help you determine the optimal height for your desk, no matter how you work. We’ll also explore why standing desk ergonomics are often simpler (hint: it’s because they’re height-adjustable!) and break down all the factors you'll want to consider when shopping for a desk.
 
With that in mind, here’s what you need to know.
 

Why Does Ergonomics Matter?

 
Ergonomics is sometimes defined as the science of work, and it's all about making sure your workstation supports your body. Proper ergonomics decreases your risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) like tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome from office work. It can also reduce your risk of issues like upper and lower back pain and eye strain.
 
In addition to the physical benefits, did you know that good ergonomics can improve your productivity and the quality of your work? On the flip side, poor ergonomics can decrease productivity and create a higher risk of errors. So, by ensuring everything is at the proper height, you’re also making your workday easier by setting the stage for efficient, high-quality work.
 

Why Desk Height Matters

 
Unfortunately, incorrect desk height is a problem found at many workstations. It can cause flexion or extension of the wrists and arm abduction. And none of that is comfortable to deal with all day, every day.
 
Your desk height should allow you to keep your arms, wrists, and hands in a neutral position while you work. So, if your arms are at your side, with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, you want your desk to be at elbow height, which is the perfect height to rest your hands on the keyboard tray.
 

How to Find Your Ergonomic Desk Height

ergonomic desk height
 
How high should your desk be? The standard desk height setting for a computer workstation is 28 inches.
 
However, this height isn't right for everyone (whether you're on the shorter or taller side of the spectrum), and it's certainly not ideal for standing desk ergonomics. So before you can find your perfect ergonomic desk height, you’ll want to choose the type of desk that’s right for you.
 

Choose Between a Sitting and Standing Desk

 
Before you can determine the best desk height, you first need to decide if you want a sitting or standing desk.
 
We recommend a standing desk that you can adjust as needed throughout your workday or for different people.
 
A standing desk can eliminate the need to worry about buying the right height of desk. Since sit-stand desks are height-adjustable, you can modify them as needed to the correct desk height for you. Conventional desks, on the other hand, won't be as versatile.
 
For example, someone who’s 5-feet tall will not be comfortable at the same desk as a 6-foot person, even though the two may share a desk each week. However, those two people will have no trouble sharing a workspace with an adjustable standing desk. Instead, they'll each be able to move between ideal sitting and standing positions.
 
At Branch, we’ve designed extremely versatile standing desks. Our desks can go as high as 52 inches to accommodate people as tall as 6-foot-8-inches, which eclipses the industry-standard maximum height of 49 inches.
 
By using a height-adjustable standing desk, you can choose when you want to reap the health benefits of standing and when you'd rather sit. Breaking up long periods of sitting with a stand-up desk isn't just about your wellness; it's also about fighting boredom. Spending extended periods sitting in the same position makes many of us want to stand up and move, and a standing desk lets you do just that.
 

No Standing Desk? You Have Options!

 
If you've decided a standing desk isn't for you, most office desks come in a standard height of 28-30 inches, which encourages good posture only for a limited range of people.
 
That said, an adjustable ergonomic office chair can help compensate for the shortcomings of a fixed-height desk, which is helpful if you can't buy a new desk right away. While the desk may not accommodate your height needs, a good chair can move up or down accordingly to help better position your wrists and arms to meet their correct postures.
 
Aim to find the most comfortable chair with proper lumbar support to make long periods at your desk more doable.
 

Determine Your Ideal Desk Height

ergonomic standing desk
 
Below is a simple desk height chart for sitting and standing desk heights. Use it to determine the best ergonomic desk height for your body, whether you want to sit, stand, or both.
 
The main principle to remember is that your elbows and underarms should lie straight on the table and armrests (with approximately a 90-degree bend at the elbow). The best standing desk and sitting desk heights for your body should help you maintain this posture.
 
Your Height Sitting Desk Height Standing Desk Height
5'0"
22.5"
36.5"
5'1"
23"
37"
5'2"
23"
37.5"
5'3"
23.5"
38"
5'4"
24"
39"
5'5"
24.5"
39.5"
5'6"
25"
40.5"
5'7"
25"
41"
5'8"
25.5"
41.5"
5'9"
26"
42.5"
5'10"
26.5"
43"
5'11"
27"
43.5"
6'0"
27"
44"
6'1"
27.5"
44.5"
6'2"
28"
44.5"
6'3"
28.5"
46"
6'4"
28.5"
47"
6'5"
29"
47.5"
 
Using an ergonomic calculator, you can also find more suggestions on proper monitor height and chair heights. This helps you create a better workplace design. For example, a monitor arm can help adjust your computer to eye level, allowing you to look straight ahead while you work instead of keeping your neck in strained positions for hours on end.
 

Other Considerations When Choosing Your Desk

 
If you only focus on ergonomic desk height, you could end up with the wrong desk for a number of other reasons. Here are key considerations to ensure you get a desk that meets all your needs.
 

Available Office Space

 
You’ll have to check the dimensions of your space to ensure that the desk of your dreams will fit in your office. We recommend taking measurements early on — it's no fun to unbox your desk only to find out that it won’t fit in the corner you already set aside.
 
Measure the length and width of the space you have for your desk and workstation, and remember to consider the area you occupy. You'll want plenty of room behind you when you're sitting in your ergonomic desk chair, so you can lean back, swivel, stand up, and otherwise stay comfy. We’ve all got to stretch out a bit from time to time!  
 

Size and Surface Area

 
Some people only need a few items on their desks, like a laptop and a lamp. If that sounds like you, it’s probably in your best interest to buy a desk with a smaller surface area. This leaves plenty of space for other activities or furniture.
 
Most of us tend to keep all sorts of things on our desks, though, and that's OK. If your desk is home to things like files, framed photos, coffee cups, a second computer screen, and your phone, you’ll want a desk with plenty of surface area.
 
Our desks come in three popular sizes:
 
  • Team desks: These are 48 inches by 24 inches, and they're ideal for those who have only the essentials on their tabletop.
  • Team plus desks: These are 48 inches by 30 inches, and they offer an extra 6 inches of depth to let you spread out a bit.
  • Executive desks: These are 60 inches by 30 inches, and they're ideal for those of us who like to keep our desks full of everything from souvenirs to extra work devices.
 
Office workers all have different needs for the surface area of their desks. An adjustable desk might be able to change heights, but you'll be stuck with the surface size you choose. With this in mind, it's often best to choose something a bit larger than you think you'll need.
 

Storage

 
If you’re looking for a desk that can also store your files and books, you may want to consider getting an L-Desk. L-Desks are extremely valuable if you don’t have room for shelf or storage space in your office. They’re also a great way to split your desk space into two separate halves.
 
L-Desks do occupy much more real estate than any other kind of desk, though, so you’ll want to be sure it’s what you want before pulling the trigger on one of these. And if you don't have the room, it might be better to buy a small filing cabinet instead.
 

A Piece of the Puzzle

ergonomic workstation
 
Whether you opt for a standing desk or a regular office desk, finding the right height can solve many issues. Your desk will be the centerpiece of your workplace, and it’s likely where you spend the bulk of your time. So, it’s equally as important to find an option with enough surface area and storage for your office and needs.
 
While ergonomic desk height is one piece of the office ergonomics puzzle, there's nothing more satisfying than completing the whole thing. It just takes a bit of planning to create an environment that maximizes your productivity and makes work more enjoyable.
 
If you'd like help picking the right height-adjustable desk and other ergonomic office furniture, check out our Design My Office feature for personalized recommendations. And since all Branch products come with a reliable two- to 10-year warranty, you can rest assured that you're setting your office up for lasting comfort.

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