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Let’s Talk Office Ergonomics

If you work at a desk all day, you should be thinking about your ergonomics.

Being comfortable while you work is important. It enables you to concentrate better, but more critically, it prevents you from injuring yourself. From Musculoskeletal to vision and hearing problems, yes, it is quite possible to injure yourself while working at a desk!

We all know the tips to avoid chronic injury: from giving your eyes a break, to getting up every 20 minutes or stretching. But let’s look some other solutions: standing desks. These days standing desks are all the rage. Technically these are adjustable desks that allow you to vary the height so you can sit at it in a normal chair or work at it while standing, preferably mixing between the two throughout the work day. Adjustable desks can be quite expensive ($1000 or more), which often prevents people from considering them. I don’t have one myself, although I’ve been looking into options more recently. A couple that have caught my eye:

Veridesk Pro Plus ($400) is an interesting compromise. You put this on top of your normal desk and then the Varidesk adjusts up and down with your display and keyboard.

For a low-cost adjustable desk, you could go with something simple like desks at the Stand Up Desk Store. However, these desks are not easily adjustable when there are things on them, so despite their low cost are probably not suitable for most people.

MultiTable has some interesting desks ($500+) that can be customized a bit. Personally, I’d prefer one with a built-in keyboard tray but that can probably be added separately.

Our founder and CEO, Geoff, has an adjustable desk he found at Ikea. Though he’s only had it a few weeks, he’s pleased it with so far. “I like it. It only takes about 6 seconds to get it the desk standing height. An unexpected benefit I discovered was that when I’m sitting I can adjust it to exactly the right height I want” says Geoff. This is Geoff’s desk and set up:


Alyssa, who you have probably talked with in Customer Service or on Twitter, has had a Next Desk for about a year now. “The Next Desk itself is wonderful, though our desk delivery was delayed and I was less than impressed with their customer service. My husband has a bad back, so it’s important to him to be able to move between standing and sitting easily. I’ll have more space once I phase out the use of the iMac in the back!”


While my adjustable desk research continues, here is what I currently use for an office setup:

I have a simple, inexpensive glass and wood top 48″ wide desk with a keyboard tray. I like that the keyboard tray is the entire width of the desk, which allows me to spread out my mouse and keyboard.

Speaking of which, for a keyboard I use the Kinesis Freestyle 2 for Mac. This is a split keyboard which allows me to keep my wrists straight while typing. It also has many dedicated Mac keys, which I like. It is a soft, quiet keyboard not one of the new “clicky” keyboards that you hear about. For a mouse, I just use a simple wired gaming mouse (Gigabye M6800) with a scroll wheel.

For my display, I am using the 27″ Monoprice Glass Panel Pro (2560×1440). This is a great display, but I’d like to eventually replace it with a 4K display. After many years of using dual displays, I now only use a single display because I find it much more comfortable. With dual displays, I was always turning my head to look between them, which would result in neck pain.

My office does have a window, but for supplemental lighting, I use an Ott-Lite natural light desk lamp. Natural light is important in the long, dark northeast US winters so I often have this light on.

Since I have a sitting desk, I need a good chair. I’ve tried a wide variety of chairs over the years. The strangest easily being the Swing Chair. But now I am using a Tempur-pedic chair.

For webinars, podcasting and video conferences I use a Blue Yeti microphone mounted on a boom arm with a pop filter. This allows me to swing the microphone out of the way when I’m not using it.

Of course, to help me think, I keep a Darth Vader head stress ball handy.

Lastly, I like to sometimes listen to music while I’m working. For this I use the Bose Companion 20 desktop speakers because they are small and have great bass without requiring a subwoofer. They also have a really cool control pod that I keep near my mouse.


But the most important thing I do is to regularly get up from my desk to stretch, which is absolutely worth the 5 minutes or so it takes. It is far too easy to get absorbed in what you are doing and then realize you haven’t moved in hours, which is not healthy at all. Take regular breaks; set an alarm if needed!

I hope some of this is helpful to my fellow computer nerds. I’d love to hear about your office setups in the comments and welcome any advice from those of you using adjustable desks.

For more of my ramblings on various topics, subscribe to XojoTalk, our podcast:

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