You wouldn’t think of dressing all of your office mates in the same size, shape, pattern, and color of clothing, would you? Giving them all the same exact furniture is equally ridiculous. If you think clothing can “make the man”, wait until you see what ergonomic furniture can do!
Ideally, office workstations should be customized to the exact person who will be working there: their size, task type, working style, posture, and space available. In most cases, though, it is too time-consuming to assess every single person’s needs. A good alternative is to create 3 types of workstations and choose the best fit for each employee.
Workstation A: Small But Mighty
For petite employees, I recommend this setup:
- A chair that adjusts high enough to accommodate the workstation
- A smaller seat and a mid-to-high back.
- A chair without arms so you can get closer to the desk
Goal: Sit in natural posture, with your elbows and wrists level while typing, and your feet planted so that knees and hips are level. Also, be able to get close enough to the monitor so that your back does not round. Our 814L chair is an ideal model for petite employees.
- When seated at a desk, add a footrest so that feet can be supported (not dangling above the floor)
- Add a height-adjustable keyboard tray to your existing desk for shoulder relief.
A sit-stand desktop unit with an attached keyboard tray that goes lower than your desk or ideally, a sit-stand desk that goes down to 22 inches.
Goal: Relax and lower shoulders when working. Our Sit-Stand Ergo Unit is ideal for this.
Workstation B: Standing Tall
For tall, thin employees, I recommend this setup:
- A chair with seat-depth adjustment to accommodate longer legs
- Adjustable chair back with high back support that adjusts upright and angles forward for good posture support
- Chair arms that can be raised or lowered easily
Goal: Support for your body. Avoid leaning back and winging your arms away from your body. The 783L chair is an ideal option for tall people.
- Add a height-adjustable keyboard tray for extra comfort, and put all necessary tools (cell phone, documents, etc.) within 2 feet for easy reach.
- No pedestals, bars, or pencil drawers under the desk, as they impede movement
- Sit-stand desks must be able to go high enough when standing and low enough when seated to accommodate a tall person’s breadth, up to 50 inches.
Goal: A desk that adjusts high enough and low enough to support healthy posture and does not cramp the legs. If you are taller than 5’10”, then a sit-stand desk with extended height range would be best for you.
Workstation C: Super-Size
For employees with large frames, I recommend this setup:
- A chair with a wider, deeper seat frame. It should also have sturdy chair arms that will support you when getting into and out of the chair and is rated for correct weight for you.
- Fully adjustable seat tilt, back height, and back angle to ensure the back is well supported.
Goal: Stable support for getting into the chair and while sitting in it the chair arms do not compress against the legs. The 897 chair is a great choice.
- When seated at a desk, add a footrest so that feet can be supported
- Add a height-adjustable keyboard tray to your existing desk for shoulder relief and supported feet.
- No pedestals, bars, or pencil drawers under the desk, as they restrict leg movement
Goal: To have a desk that promotes a healthy posture, relaxed shoulders and neck, and does not impede movement.
Monitor positioning for all 3 body types:
- The monitor should be positioned just an arm’s length away while you are seated
- The top of monitor should be even with the top of your head
- If using dual monitors, position them side by side – evenly
Goal: Avoid raising or lowering your head – position the monitor directly in front of you at the proper height so your eyes do the work. I recommend this dual monitor arm so that you can adjust the angle, depth, and height for a more comfortable working experience.
Avoid these common bad practices:
- Having pencil drawers under the desk that restrict proper upright seating and force poor posture
- Positioning the keyboard on one level and the mouse on a second level
- Placing the monitor in the corner of the desk and the keyboard facing another direction
Body type ergonomics
Not all employees wear the same size and style shirt. Not all employees order the same lunch. Not all employees should sit in the same chair and work at the same desk.
By providing your employees with office furniture that considers their body types, you can set up workstations that will be truly ergonomic – that is, empower their productivity and foster their health and well-being.
About Karen Burke
Karen is the founder and president of Kare Products, specializing in active ergonomic solutions. She has 30 years experience in ergonomic product design and consulting.