How to set up an ergonomic workstation

Everyone is different
It may seem obvious to say so, but the human body comes in a wide range of shapes and sizes. It follows that the design of a workstation should incorporate a high degree of adjustability so that the user can easily adapt it to fit them.

Adjust the seat height so that your feet are flat on the floor or use a riser if needed. The backrest should support your back in all sitting positions, particularly the lumbar region in order to alleviate undue pressure on your back. Getting the right back support is crucial for comfort and the prevention of long term injury.

Not ergonomically recommended

There are advantages of sitting in a reclining position (when taking a break from your computer) as it increases the angle between the torso and thighs, which helps to improve circulation and blood flow.
Ideally the desk should be positioned so when you’re sitting relatively upright, with your shoulders relaxed, the upper arms by your side and forearms at a right angle and roughly parallel to the work surface.

If you’re sitting too low, your arms will be forced into awkward positions, leading to musculoskeletal problems if held for too long.

Keyboard and Mouse
Your keyboard should be positioned directly in front of you with your upper arms able to hang in a neutral position and your forearms roughly horizontal. By sitting at the right height, your wrist should be in a straight, neutral position and your keyboard should be about 10 to 15 centimetres from the edge.


Keep your mouse next to your keyboard to prevent too much pressure being placed on your shoulders and move the mouse using your forearm rather than your wrist.
Visual Display
The position of the visual display is essential to your posture. Many standard displays are not height adjustable or only have limited range and if the display screen is not positioned correctly it can result in strain in the neck, shoulders and lower back as it encourages you to lean forwards. With the average human head weighing around four and a half kilograms (about the same as a bowling ball), the neck has a lot to support!


Ideally the screen should be positioned so the top is at eye level which will allow your eyes to move down the screen. A monitor arm provides the best solution to easily adjust the position of the screen.

Try and position your screen to about 60 centimetres in front of you. But as everyone is different, about arm’s length is usually a good viewing distance.
From an ergonomic perspective, laptops can be bad news. The majority of people still work with Laptops placed flat on the desk which forces them to adopt a hunched posture. This can cause musculoskeletal disorders if maintained for extended periods.


An adjustable laptop stand or monitor arm with laptop compatibility will allow you to position the laptop at the correct height and using a separate keyboard and mouse will ensure better ergonomics for your shoulders, wrists and forearms.
Despite the fact that tablet users typically shift position and move around more than laptop or desktop users, tablet ergonomics are often worse than laptops as they will be more frequently used in poor posture positions. Tablet users typically look down at the device which can cause neck problems – sometimes referred to as iPad neck.


Tablets are typically used in two ways – content creation and content consumption. Content creation involves tasks such as answering emails and working on documents; whereas content consumption consists of things such as reading articles and watching videos.

When using a tablet for content creation you should treat your device as a PC or laptop and consider using a tablet stand or dynamic monitor arm. For content consumption usage you can treat a tablet as a book.

One of the most important factors not to forget in reducing the risk of health problems associated with PC, laptop and tablet use is frequent changes of posture. Try to get up and move away from the desk for five minutes each hour. This is more beneficial than having a break for 15 minutes every three hours.