Are You Sitting Comfortably?

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

How to effectively set up your office desk space for optimal productivity…

… and to prevent musculoskeletal problems

Maintaining a good posture uses less energy, and your eyes, limbs and mental state will thank you for it.

But so many people fail to effectively set up their office desk space correctly. Unfortunately, too many job roles require spending multiple hours sitting, and if poor posture is at play, it can lead to feelings of fatigue, back and shoulder pain, headaches and often, poor job satisfaction.

When was the last time you asked your staff (or yourself) if they felt comfortable at their workstation?

Maybe you’re just starting to see an increase in absenteeism due to bad backs, sore necks and general ill health. Maybe you’re noticing a decrease in productivity for those reasons.

Poor posture and strain at work has detrimental effects

According to the research conducted by the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors, effective office ergonomics can reduce the musculoskeletal problems reported by up to 61%, decrease workdays lost by 88% and reduce staff turnover by 87%.

Why would you not want to reduce these statistics?

Well, you would … but many people simply aren’t aware that there is a problem that could be easily improved or eliminated. The good news is that many of these issues are preventable through some simple (and often FREE) initiatives. And that’s what this Blog article is about.


  • If, like a lot if people, you already have employees with musculoskeletal problems (or you, yourself, are suffering) we fully endorse the services of Swan Physiotherapy – a full multi-disciplinary Physiotherapy practice based in Keele Village, Staffordshire.  


What can you do to effectively set up the office desk space?

If you’re a manager at an established business, you may think you need brand new equipment or office furniture when it comes to ergonomics but you may not need to. While some organisations buy cheap, uncomfortable and inappropriate equipment, this isn’t the case with most organisations.

With a few improvements everyone can increase their productivity, feel more comfortable at work and alleviate tension spots without gasping at a huge invoice for the privilege.

Start with a DSE assessment

The first place to start is to conduct a Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessment of the working environment – here is the Health and Safety Executive checklist to follow.

The aim is to minimise the risks of bad posture and working habits and to promote well-being in the workplace. Whilst the checklist will help identify where change is needed and following a few simple adjustments, long-term positive impact can be achieved, you can simply contact Office Prime Supplies today to arrange a basic DSE assessment.

  • Alternatively, if you are currently concerned by high levels of staff absenteeism due to illness, stress etc, we strongly recommend an assessment by a trained medical professional Occupational Heath provider. We recommend and endorse Phoenix Occupational Health for your needs in this regard. If you would like us to introduce you to them, please don’t hesitate to ask us!


The science behind an ergonomic desk space

Anthropometry and anthropometric data are challenging what we know about office working.

The field is the foundation to the development of new office furniture and equipment – and it could save your back!

Anthropometry analyses the size and structure of the human body and its data has been used to plot the ideal desk space.

Ergonomically speaking, desk space is split into four main zones with each zone designed to optimise the placement of office stationery and equipment in order to aid positive posture, eye positioning and limb reach.

You may think this sounds complicated but it really isn’t. If you follow a few quick and simple steps to reorganise your desk set up to match tasks and working habits your entire working day will improve.

How to Set Up Your PC Or Mac The Rights Way

How to Set Up Your PC Or Mac The Right Way

[Source – Tech Radar –]

The Primary Zone (Zone 1)

Also referred to as the neutral reach zone or the optimal reach zone, this is the space where most deskwork is conducted. Think about your forearm movement, from left to right without overly stretching from your shoulder, as you sit at your desk.

Typically, a keyboard, mouse and mat and possibly a desk pad will be placed in zone 1.

The area promotes a neutral posture and therefore proper alignment of the body. No stretching, slouching or bending is necessary to perform work tasks. Feet should be flat on the floor, wrists neutral (and supported) and elbows bent naturally at 90 degrees.

The Secondary Zone (Zone 2)

This second zone is the area your arm will reach to when it stretches slightly beyond a standard arm’s length. Semi-regular use items will reside in this zone. Office equipment such as paper trays, notepads, pens and a desktop printer are characteristic here.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the effective desk space zones include vertical and horizontal spaces so shelving, desktop or under desk drawers and cabinets can be included within the secondary zone.

A telephone or mobile is a key piece of office equipment but it’s important to understand the precise positioning for optimal productivity and ergonomic working – a telephone should sit to the opposite side of your dominant hand.

The Tertiary Zone (Zone 3)

A little more movement is involved when accessing the tertiary zone, usually with an out-stretched arm as you stand or lean from the waist. Also known as the maximum reach zone, office equipment and stationery items of infrequent use will be positioned here.

Storage boxes, filing systems and wall planners will be found in this zone. Think vertical and not horizontal when collating documents, as they are easier to retrieve.

Zone 4

This zone only applies to a horizontal space and shouldn’t be an active working area. Typically, the zone will be used for storage and comprises items further away than 44 inches of your natural sitting/standing position.

Computer monitors or laptops will be positioned somewhere between zone 2 and 3 at between 20 and 40 inches away with the top of the screen at eye level. They should be perpendicular to a window and tilted no more than 20 degrees.

Effective seating for posture alignment

HSE diagram of desk zones

We’ve talked about the importance of office chairs in previous articles because it’s essential to ensure seating is:

  • Supportive – particularly in the lumbar region and adequate to hold the person’s weight
  • Comfortable – for the intended period of use
  • Adjustable –the height and depth of the seat and tilt of the armrest and footrest (if available)

Review this useful checklist from the Health and Safety Executive to check that the seating in your office is suitable for all workers.

Create a happy workplace through optimal desk set up

Adopting the idea of a positive desk set up and implementing an effective zone layout will help to prevent repetitive strain injuries and the onset of musculoskeletal disorders. Considering the peripherals and accessories needed to complete work tasks will take teams a step closer to ergonomic working.

Previous aches and pains, including eyestrain and headaches will subside and taking regular breaks from the computer screen to stand up and move around, at least every hour, will reduce the associated risks of sedentary working.

Always remember that natural light is preferable as are windows to aid concentration and improve mood. Artificial lights should not cause glare and all monitors and visual aids clearly visible with no obstruction.

[Google Review – follow the link to read more] “I cannot recommend this company highly enough, the whole process was quick, easy and stress free, and we had our products the next day. What truly stood out was Matthew’s desire to provide the best possible service.”

Policies and Procedures

  • If you have got concerns about any of the things we have talked about in this article – for example you are a UK employer who is seeing increasing absenteeism and long term sickness – you will naturally want to take some of the preventative steps we have outlined above. You may also want to review your HR policies and procedures to ensure they are fit for purpose. in this regard we endorse Innov8 HR, a highly effective strategic and practical HR provider in Staffordshire. Contact us if you would like an introduction!


Help is on hand

Office Prime Supplies can support your business to create the optimal working space for your organisation. Take advantage of our expert consultancy to risk assess the current environment and recommend measures to improve effective office desk set up.

Visit our website to browse a huge range of office furniture options or call us today on 01270 760713 to discuss your requirements.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.