09/04/2024 • 4 min read

5 steps to a healthy workstation

How to set up an ergonomic desk

by Alex Przybyla

So you’ve gotten yourself an ergonomic desk. Wonderful! You’re well on the way to a healthy workspace where you can move more and work well.

But first, you need to set it up!

After all, the best equipment won’t help if it isn’t used correctly. We’ll walk you through how to set up your workstation and how to use it.

With these 5 principles, you’ll have an ergonomic setup in no time.

1. Look

You’ll be spending a lot of time in front of your screen, especially if you join a lot of video calls. Just like the starting stance in many sports, your starting position at work sets the stage for what’s to come.

A. Centred.
Make sure you’re not sitting at an angle. Keep your shoulders parallel to your laptop screen.

B. Distance.
Your screen should be roughly an arm’s length away.
Tip: Reach out and test this – if your arm smacks your laptop, you’re too close. If you can’t reach it, you’re too far!

C. Height.
Your head should be upright. This neutral position places the least stress on your neck and spine. (The more your head tilts down, the heavier it effectively becomes for your spine.)

D. Lighting.
You shouldn’t have to strain to see the keyboard or your notes. Make sure your work surface is well lit.

2. Reach

While it may seem like convenience should always be number one, sometimes the most ergonomic aspect of your workstation will be when you get up. Placing something you use relatively often a few paces away – a notebook, a reference document, a tin of mints – will ensure you get up and move at regular intervals throughout the day.

A. Prioritise.
Think about what you use most – if you need it during every call or task, keep it close to hand. If it’s something you use a little less frequently, consider placing it a few steps away.

B. Arms.
Your upper arms should hang down straight and close to your sides.

C. Elbows.
Keep your elbows close to your body. The angle should be between 70 and 120 degrees.

D. Wrists.
Keep wrists straight while working.

E. Armrests.
Whether you put your arms on your chair’s armrests or your desk, you shouldn’t have to lean to one side or lift up your shoulders.

3. Sit

It takes two to tango – and in ergonomic terms, your desk’s dance partner is your chair. An ergonomic chair will allow you to personalise your comfort and bring out the best in your desk. Learn more about how Haworth seating supports your spine.  

A. Adjust.
Make sure your chair is adjusted to your body.
a.     Tip: if you’re using a Haworth chair, check the adjustments video on the product page – for example, here’s Zody.

B. Torso.
When you’re sitting, make sure your torso to thigh angle is 90 degrees or greater.

C. Armrests.
Your armrests shouldn’t keep you from getting close to your work surface – adjust the height if necessary.

D. Legs. There should be space in between the bottom of your desk and the top of your legs.

E. Feet. Keep them flat on the floor or on a footrest. (And make sure they have plenty of room to tap along to whatever you’re listening to.)

4. Stand

Sitting all day isn’t great for your body. An ideal ergonomic work setup is height adjustable, allowing you to work while standing.

A. High work surface.
If you have a height adjustable workstation, wonderful. If you don’t, consider an adjustable desk accessory or find a bar- or counter-height work surface nearby.

B. Duration.
At the beginning, aim for 15-minute increments. You might stand for longer as you become more accustomed to it.

C. Move.
Don’t stand completely still. Keep in motion. Shift your posture, bounce a little, stay active.

D. Freedom of movement.
Make sure there’s nothing at your feet that could trip you up, like a charger cable or the leg of your chair.

5. Perch

If you have a height adjustable workstation, the best dance partner is a chair that allows perching. This includes our dual-posture Zody II and Zody LX.

Perching combines the benefits of sitting and standing. It adds a posture option to your arsenal – and the best posture is the next one.

The best practices for perching are similar to sitting and standing.

A. Lock.
Make sure you lock the castors of your chair! This is very important to remember, especially if you’re new to perching.

B. Torso.
Keep your torso to thigh angle at 90 degrees or greater.

C. Armrests.
Don’t let them prevent you from accessing the work surface.

D. Freedom of movement.
Make sure there’s nothing at your feet that could trip you up, like a charger cable or the leg of your chair.

E. Feet.
Keep them flat on the floor or on a footrest.

A chat about ergonomics – while camping!

Recently the Haworth team went to Chair Camp – a laid-back refresher on all things Haworth. Learn about ergonomics in this chat between Manuel and Fabiola.


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