We all spend far more time at our desks than we should! Evolution being what it is - slow - we are better designed for hunting and gathering than earning our living sitting around browsing the internet and pretending to be working!
However, the fact is that whether or not our bodies were designed to spend all day at a desk, the way we work in the 21st century means they are probably going to have to get used to it - evolution will catch up in its own time. Meanwhile getting the right sized office desk is crucial not only for our comfort but for our well-being - both physical and financial. Figures from the HSE show that back pain affects 4 in 5 people and is responsible for the loss of 4.5 million working days each year in the UK, costing an estimated 335 million in lost income for employers. Choosing the right office equipment and especially the right office desk is therefore crucial.
If you are looking for office desks for your business or for your home office there are a number of factors to take into account. The desk should be the right height for your body's build and there should be good clearance for your legs under the desktop. The recommended height for office desks is around 50 - 72cm from the floor to the underside of the desk with a clearance of around 5 - 10cm from the top of your thigh to the desk. If your office desk is too high or too low you will be putting strain on your back and limbs, stretching and bending into all kinds of uncomfortable positions. The long term affects can be serious but may not be apparent until the damage is already done.
When thinking about the design of the desk you should consider the type of work you do. It's unlikely, in terms of space, that you'll only need room on the desk for a computer and keyboard. Think about the amount of paperwork, incoming and outgoing mail and the type of tasks you might need to work on at the desk in addition to computer work. Ensure there is adequate space for storage and to work on hard copy documents.
The edges of the desk need consideration as well. Rounded edges are considered better as these reduce the stress and pressure on your arms and wrists when resting against them for long periods of time - this type of pressure can affect nerves and blood vessels, resulting in a 'pins and needles' sensation and temporary loss of feeling.
Your screen needs to be positioned correctly and should be approximately 40 - 50cms away from you. Depending on your height you may need to raise the screen so that it is at eye-level, thereby reducing the strain and stress on you upper back, neck and muscles. Likewise the keyboard should be at a comfortable height. Ideally allowing your forearms to be in a horizontal position at a right angle to your body, again this reduces stress and strain on the muscles and joints and is an important factor in reducing the risk of RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury).
Whether you are an employer or you work for yourself, the right office desk is going to be a long term investment. Ensure that you are buying a quality, well-made desk and that it suits your immediate and future needs. The right investment now will pay dividends in the future.