Keyboard Tray Solutions and Types

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Adjustable height desks are ideal for easily remediating ergonomic issues related to desk height.  With the push of a button, most people can easily get to their workspace comfort zone.  But what to do when an adjustable height desk is not feasible or affordable?  Keyboard trays can be a solution for facilitating employees to work in a neutral posture.  A keyboard tray is a sliding shelf that attaches under a work surface to hold your keyboard and mouse.

Different Types of Keyboards Trays:

There are many different types of trays on the market. When is a keyboard tray a good solution and which one should you select?   Ergonomics exists because one size does not fit all.  Three different types of keyboard trays and possible applications will be discussed.

Slide-Out Keyboard Trays:

These are basic trays that slide out from under the desk like a drawer.

Solutions with Keyboard Trays

They are often used at counter workstations for quick intermittent work as opposed to prolonged data entry.  Examples are registration or checkout counters.  The workstation below was used less than five minutes for each transaction so a slide-out tray was a good option here.

Solutions with Keyboard Trays

Adjustable Articulating Keyboard Trays:

Articulating keyboards can raise and lower and swivel from side to side. The WorkRite Banana Board Keyboard Tray System is a great example.

Sometimes work surface heights only need minor adjustments (think two inches or less) to make neutral posture possible and a keyboard tray is an easy solution, especially in shared workstation situations.  Adjustable keyboard trays work well in these situations.

A desk that is too high:
In addition to desk height issues, keyboard trays can free up desktop space.   A common scenario is a fixed height desk that makes it difficult for an employee to sit with their elbows at keyboard height.  A desk that’s too high for an individual can result in awkward upper extremity postures as well as contact stress.

Solutions with Keyboard Trays

A desk that is too low: 
A desk that’s too low can result in awkward wrist postures, inadequate leg clearance as well as other postural problems.  The photo below demonstrates a work surface that is too low.  Note the awkward wrist posture.


A desk that’s too low for seated work inhibits leg movement and can disrupt neutral sitting posture.

Solutions with Keyboard Trays

Another benefit of an articulating keyboard tray is that the angle of the tray can be adjusted.  Tipping the front of the keyboard so it slopes downward is called a negative tilt.  This angle helps individuals maintain neutral wrist postures.  Note the difference in wrist postures with the keyboard in a negative tilt.


Standing Keyboard Trays:

Sit-Stand Trays allow the keyboard and mouse to be raised high enough to accommodate standing work.  Note:  a desk with this type of tray should be equipped with a monitor arm that raises the monitor to the appropriate height for standing posture. The GrandStands Mongoose II Sit-Stand Mechanism is a fantastic sit-stand tray.

Other Considerations of Keyboard Trays:

Once you have decided which tray works best for you there are considerations to keep in mind.  A keyboard tray will set the user further away from the desk by at least twelve inches so be sure there is adequate space – you don’t want to be obstructing a busy area by being too close to a door so have a look at the space behind the workstation.

Measure to Determine the Correct Track that Is Needed:

Measure under the desk and be sure to order a tray with the correct mounting track.  Be sure that the area where the track will be mounted is flat with an even surface and there is no overhanging lip at the edge of the desk that will interfere with mounting it.

If you are going to purchase a tray to be installed on an adjustable height desk be aware that these desks usually have a crossbar under it.  Be sure to select a tray with a track that can be installed on a desk with a crossbar.  An example of a crossbar is below.


If you aren’t sure if a tray can be mounted on the desk you may want to ask the installer for advice.

Once the tray has been installed be sure you set it up properly.  The links below provide more information:

For a quote on keyboard tray systems, call Pacific Ergonomics who can help guide you to ensure that you have the best solution for your needs.

About the author

Janice Fletcher
Ergonomist at | + posts

Janice Fletcher is a certified ergonomics specialist with over 20 years of experience in providing preventive worksite evaluations for hospitals, clinical and office settings. She has worked with facilities planners and managers for workplace design and equipment selection. Janice has also provided ergonomic evaluations for employees with Workers’ Compensation injuries as well as for employees with non-industrial conditions that require workplace accommodations. Her favorite part of being an ergonomist is the interactive aspect and has found employees’ experiences are the key to finding solutions for creating a safer work environment