We’ve posted before on workstations set-ups and strategies

Why This Is Important

This blog post is the step after adjusting your chair. It’s all about how to fully adjust your workstation to match your fully adjusted chair (or vice versa based on what type of workstation you sit in).

How This Works

This is all about adjusting your workstation for you. Unlike many workstation guides that only focus on sitting workstations, we want to make something usable for the modern age. A sitting AND standing guideline.

First, let’s talk about standing workstations. We are in a whole new world in Ergonomics. Lucky us, right? Alternative workstations are now a big trend. Everything from Treadmill Desks to Standing Desks to Sit-Stand Desks are all viable and reasonably priced options today. Even 5 years ago the prices of sit-stand desks put them out of reach for so many (me included). But its all so different now. Personally, I hope that this is not just a trend and stays here for a long time. There are so many benefits to these newly attainable options. The key thing though is that just like sitting workstations, standing workstations must be set-up correctly. Situations where there is a mismatch between the workstation and the user usually result in someone like me getting called in to sort things out.

Even if you used our ‘Ultimate Chair Set-up’ guide, to set-up your chair perfectly and optimally, if you don’t take into consideration the rest of your workstation it is very likely that there could still be ergonomic risk present.

Why? The second step of our process is to match the user to the (sitting or standing) workstation. To make this process as straightforward as possible, we have created some more Rules of Thumb for you.

So, the focus of today’s post will be:

  • ‘Rules of Thumb’ to set-up your standing/sitting workstation
  • A reminder of the ‘Rules of Thumb’ for setting up your chair

My suggestion is to get very familiar with each of these. That way if you have a sit-stand workstation you can efficiently switch between standing and sitting postures whenever you need to throughout your workday. Because, as we all know, standing OR sitting all day is an ergonomic risk. It’s all about first setting up your workstation optimally and then reducing your sedentary work habits.

Rules of Thumb

When it comes to setting up your sitting or standing workstation the are some key things to remember. There are core principles to an ergonomic set-up that should be always met – no matter if you are sitting or standing.

  1. Eyes slightly higher than monitor height
    • The top of the screen (not the monitor) should always be slightly lower than your neutral eye height. Neutral eye height is found by the natural or most comfortable position that you hold your neck in, and mostly likely your chin will be parallel with the ground.
    • In addition, the bottom of the monitor should be slightly tilted upwards toward you. This places you into the optimal neck position.
  2. Neutral elbow height slightly higher than the hand working height
    • Why use neutral elbow height in the first place? The neutral elbow height is one of the major principles in the office because it is associated with the least amount of risk for the development of discomfort or a work injury.
    • To find neutral elbow height: with relaxed shoulders, position your elbows at approximately 90 degrees next to your torso. The key thing is that your elbows should be positioned in a manner that is comfortable to you and you shouldn’t feel any discomfort or strain in your shoulder area.
    • If you feel some strain then you probably need to take another look at your elbow position to make sure that whatever device that you are working with (for instance the keyboard or mouse) are slightly lower than your resting elbow height.
    • Need some more clarification? Check out the chart below. For the shortest (5th percentile) and tallest (95th percentile) people there is a acceptable desk height range here. These just are meant to illustrate the range. Realistically every workstation must be set up for its specific user. And, if there are multiple users at one workstation, each person must be able to re-adjust their workstation to fit them optimally.

Optimal Desk Height

Pro-Tip: Here’s something that few consider when switching between sitting and standing workstations. Just because you may have set your workstation up for a neutral position when you were sitting doesn’t necessarily mean that this will carry forward when you are standing. This is KEY if you have a sit-stand desk! When you stand you must always re-position the desk and the monitor. It should be deliberate. Try it for yourself: when moving from a sitting to standing position, do you notice that your monitor is not in an optimal position but your hand working height (desk height) is?

When you are in a Seated Workstation, remember the tips that I mentioned in the Adjustable Chair Guideline:

  • The user’s back must always be comfortably positioned into the chair’s backrest.
  • The user’s feet must always be securely in contact with the ground.


Pro-Tip: During your workstation set-up, if you are ever unsure about the set-up just make sure that it is comfortable for you. If you feel some strain in any particular area, take a second and review its positioning again.

Suggestions on Types of Set-ups. 

Standing Workstations

Technically you can make anything a standing workstation. The core ergonomic benefit of a ‘standing’ workstation is just that: postural relief. Take a look at this website. I think that it gives you a lot of value to start to look at different types of furniture/packing supplies/empty boxes in your home or office with a ‘hack’ mentality. You can put an empty, sturdy box on top your sitting desk! What about packages of paper? These ideas will essentially cost you nothing. But it will easily allow you to switch between sitting and standing. When you do the switches, make sure to remember the Rules of Thumb from above.

hack standing desk


Are you interested in a purchasing a new Sit-Stand desk instead? Make sure you look for these features.

  • Fast adjustability.
    • That’s why powered height adjustability is recommended so often. Other options include a hand-crank. Hand crank desks generally takes a longer time to adjust, meaning that it adds a level of inconvenience that may dissuade some users from standing.
    • A power module system would be considered to be ideal, but this usually come with a somewhat steeper price tag.
  • The level of height adjustability must match you and/or your staff
    • Not all height adjustable desk are created equally! Meaning, some desks don’t go low enough or high enough to match with the optimal/neutral set-up.
    • Both shorter and taller individuals should have the option to work with neutral postures while seated or standing.

Sitting Workstations

The degree of adjustability in your workstation is based entirely on what is adjustable. Most users will have a chair that is height adjustable, sometimes it is the only piece of adjustability in the workstation. Here are a couple of examples of how to work with non-adjustable pieces of equipment (there will be much more thorough information in our free e-book)

  • Is your chair the only height adjustable piece of equipment? If so, position it so that you can work with a neutral elbow height at the desk. There may be a gap now between your feet and ground. A footrest or stacks of paper are perfect to fill this gap.
  • Need to adjust your monitor, but it’s not adjustable? Stacks of paper are perfect to raise its height.

Generally speaking, the more adjustable features you have in your workstation, the easier it is to fit you.

Need more help? Office adjustments can be tricky. We can help. Send us an email to connect!

Interested In Even More Information?

I have an eBook available that gives you much more information than I can reasonably cover in this post. Interested in learning more? You can check out this low cost yet high value eBook here.