How to Purchase a Home Office Desk to Feel Good and Prevent Injury

f you are looking for a home office desk that will help you increase productivity and decrease the risk of discomfort and injury, “Seven Tips to Purchase a Home Office Desk” will help you save money, time and ensure you are working in a safe way.” Having a separate desk and workstation at home is important for productivity and your health.

Studies show that if you don’t have the correct posture when doing repetitive typing and mousing, this can lead to musculoskeletal problems (MSDs) injuries. Read: Postural risk factors for musculoskeletal symptoms and disorders.

  • Are you currently working on a kitchen table, a sofa, or a desk that doesn’t fit you?
  • Do you have a dedicated workspace at home, or are you moving from place to place in your home each day?
  • Is the desk you have right now too high, too low, or do your legs feel cramped or blocked under your desk?
  • Are your arms pushing on the edge of your desk from where you are working?
  • If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then you need a home office desk.

Seven Tips When Evaluating Which Home Office Desk to Buy:

There are a lot of cheap desks sold online or at big box stores. Some are even quite attractive. The problem is that many of the desks sold on-line are not designed to work in day after day, hour after hour in comfort for people of all body types.

Advertisements are everywhere with prices that range all over the board. There are pretty desks, best-selling desks, commercial desks, home office desks, standing desks, French country desks, glass desks, desk converters, height-adjustable desks, desks with built-in keyboard trays, desks to hide cords, cheap desks, expensive desks, yikes, how do you decide?

Don’t worry, we will help make this easy!

#1. Understand how you are supposed to sit at a desk to be comfortable and prevent injury BEFORE you purchase a home office desk.

Many people buy a home office desk and then take it home. They use it for a period of time, and then start feeling discomfort. They start reading about how they should be sitting and the reasons why they might be having back pain, neck pain, or wrist pain. Perhaps they have an ergonomic consultation and gain insight into what they need to change their workstation. Often people end up spending money twice getting the correct solution after they have endured discomfort they were not expecting.

The following is the posture that you should have while working at any desk.

  • Your arms should be at a 90-degree angle
  • Both feet firmly planted on the ground.
How to sit at a home office desk correctly

#2. If you are considering buying a non-adjustable desk, make sure your chair is adjustable.  

Most home office desks are not adjustable.Yes they might be attractive and they may be cheap, and they actually could be quite expensive.  However if you are in pain all day and have musculoskeletal disorders injuries, (MSDs)  it is all irrelevant. To be productive and feel great working, the desk has to enable proper positioning to support your body. An adjustable chair can range drastically in flexibility and comfort. Having an adjustable chair still doesn’t guarantee that a desk will work, however it greatly increases the odds.

TIP: To maintain a proper posture, you will need a chair that can adjust up and down so your arms are at a 90 degree angle. Both feet should be on the ground or a footrest.


#2. If your chair isn’t adjustable, don’t buy a stationary desk. 

The industry standard height for a desk is 30 inches. So if your kitchen chair is the only seating you have at home, chances are great that it will be too low or high. This depends on the height of the chair and your body size. You then would be spending money on a desk that has no chance of being set up properly with the targeted chair that you wanted to use.
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Ergo tip: If your chair is too low for the desk, add seat cushions to raise yourself in the chair. Check and see if you get get to the correct posture with your arms at a 90 degree angle and both feet on the ground.

Example of a woman sitting in a chair that is too low and her arms are NOT at a 90 degree angle. Notice the pressure on her forearms because the desk is too low. Her soft tissue is not happy. She will experience pain and MSD issues doing this every day all day long. 
Example of a chair being too low at the desk

 

#3. Purchase a height adjustable desk  if you don’t have an adjustable chair. 

If you already have a comfortable non-adjustable chair with back support, our recommendation is to purchase an height adjustable desk otherwise known as a “standing desk.” You wouldn’t be purchasing it so you could sit and stand, (although this is a significant health benefit), but you would be purchasing it so it could raise or lower to a comfortable posture.

Ergo Tip: Height adjustable desks are widely used in companies to provide flexibility of people of different sizes to adjust their workstation for proper comfort. You can use this same strategy at your home office.

#4. If you are tall, have big legs, or long legs, purchase a height adjustable desk for optimal flexibility. Most standard desks will be too low once your arms are at a 90 degree angle.  

Ergo Tip: For taller people, many residential desks are too low which creates a neck, back, and wrist strain. For petite users, these same desks can be too high, but at least they can add a footrest to help solve the problem. Purchasing a standing desk that is height adjustable opens up flexibility to size the desk correctly.

A home office desk that is too low can place pressure on your legs and create problems
With a height adjustable desk, it could be raised to prevent the contact stress on the legs

#5. If you are looking at a desk that isn’t height-adjustable, make sure there are no barriers that would block your feet below the desk. 

You do not want to twist your legs behind you, cross your legs for long periods of time and not have proper room for both feet to be on the ground.  Many cheap home user stationary desks have barriers under the desk that prevent a user from being able to move their chair close to the desk. With this, it makes it very challenging to have your arms and legs at a 90-degree angle to prevent discomfort and injury.

Home office desks can have barriers below

#6.  Non-adjustable built-in keyboard trays with home office desks are not recommended.

Many consumer home office desks have built-in keyboard trays that don’t adjust.  This means that when you place the keyboard on the tray, if your body doesn’t fit in that exact position, then the tray is totally ineffective. These hard coded solutions will only work with a small percentage of the population. The remaining set of people will be working with awkward postures that can lead to injury and discomfort.

Watch out for keyboard trays that are not adjustable for a home office desk
Notice that on this desk, many ergonomic chairs would not be able to move close enough in to the desk for proper alignment. Also the keyboard tray is in one place. If that doesn’t fit for your body type and with the chair you are using, then the desk is not useful.

As a person who is 5 11, I am not able to fit my legs under most consumer desk keyboard trays once my chair is positioned to have a 90 degree angle with my arms.

For petite individuals, these keyboard trays can be too high. So just like the Three Little Bears, if you happen to have a chair that can adjust, legs that can fit and your posture works with that height then it will work. However, for most people, this ends up being a desk you will get rid of quickly after being frustrated and unfortunately, in pain.

#7. Do you want to sit and stand throughout the day to promote movement and circulation?  

If you work in a home office for hours of time each day or all week, it is really important that you invest in a desk that will enable you to have the proper ergonomic posture. Height adjustable standing desks not only enable you to stand but hey also enable you to position your desk to ensure that your arms are at a 90-degree angle.

Standing desks have an added benefit, that you can alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. This increases circulation promotes movement and is good for your body.

If you work at your home office all day, the optimal choice is a standing desk that enables you to sit and stand and provides flexibility to align your body properly to feel great working.

 

These products are commercial grade standing desk with electric bases. They have adjustable pre-sets and 48-hour shipping. They come in a variety of different colors and two different sizes.

24×48 height adjustable desk
24×48 height adjustable desk, one monitor arm and power management  
30×60 height adjustable desk

Standing desk for home office

IMPORTANT:
There are commercial grade height adjustable desks and residential desks and residential height adjustable desks. Commercial grade height adjustable desks have a 15 year warranty, a quiet motor, a wide range of movement from low to high and presets so you can adjust the proper seated and standing position to prevent injury.

 

 

About the author

Annie Berzanski
CEO at | 619-546-0872 101 | annie@pacificergo.com | Website | + posts

Annie Berzanski is proud and honored to be the CEO of Pacific Ergonomics, a full-service San Diego ergonomic company with consulting and ergonomic product solutions. Her team helps employees and employers thrive. Annie leads a customer service obsessed team with certified ergonomists and Account managers who help employees increase productivity and feel great working. At the same time, Pacific Ergonomics helps companies decrease and prevent costly Workers Comp claims from work-related Musculoskeletal Skeletal Disorders (MSDs.) Annie is a certified office and industrial ergonomist. She is passionate about helping her customers create customized solutions that have a bottom line impact, make employees healthier and decrease risk of injury.