Ergonomics Wednesday – 3 – Desk Basics Part 2


Due to the bat flu crisis and working at home, I got to thinking about ergonomic workspace setup and its relationship to back pain and posture. That led to launching Ergonomics Wednesday here at, with a post on your desk chair and followed up with basic desk setup.

Once you’ve finished your basic desk setup, getting the location and height to your satisfaction, you have to get into the fiddly bits.

Aside: Fiddly bits.

I will often mention getting on with “The Fiddly Bits.” I (think I) first encountered this expression in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and for sure later on in John Ringo’s Troy series. The idea is that once you have the big, overarching idea nailed down, the rest is getting the details right, “the fiddly bits.”

Now you have the big idea done; what room, where in the room, height adjustments, now it’s time for the details; the bits and pieces on your desktop.

  • Position your monitor so you are maintaining proper neck posture. If you are looking down, you need to raise your monitor. If it is as high as the built in stand allows, get a monitor stand to raise it.
  • If you are working on a notebook without an external monitor, this is particularly problematic. Consider buying a purpose designed notebook stand which raises your notebook screen to the correct height.
  • Place your keyboard so that when typing, your wrists are straight, or bent slightly forward; any backward bend in the wrist can lead to carpal tunnel issues. If your desk/chair arrangement forces your wrists to bend up too much, consider mounting a keyboard tray on the underside of your desk.
  • Your mouse should be beside your keyboard, at the same height, with the same considerations for your wrist. If your wrist is bending back, look for a soft wrist support. There are even mouse pads that include them.

When setting all of this up, make sure to keep your desktop clean. If you need to do paperwork, for instance, you will need a clean writing area, and a cluttered desktop won’t allow for that. In addition, a cluttered work area will tend to push your mouse and keyboard out of their ideal positions, leading you to compromise on their ideal placements.

Getting the big things right, chair, desk and major work tools, will allow you to focus on getting your work done, rather than the annoyances of a poorly set up work area.