Creating an Ergonomic Office - A Guide by SmartFurniture.comCreating an Ergonomic Office - A Guide by

Ergonomics // ərɡəˈnämiks // er·go·nom·ics

The study of people's efficiency in their work environment.

The study of ergonomics is concerned with the way that human beings interact with their work environment. The origin of ergonomic tools stretches all the way back to ancient Egypt and Greece, which means that people have been trying to make work easier on the body for thousands of years. Each different job puts different stressors on the human body, which means that different types of work stations demand different ergonomics. For example, the ergonomic demands of a warehouse job will be much different from a surgeon, which will be much different from a standard office.

This guide is going to run through some common office ergonomic principles and offer products and solutions to help you achieve office workplace nirvana.

THE GOAL in making your office more body-friendly is to reduce musculoskeletal disorders or MSDs.

MSDs can result from many different things, but in the office, the most likely culprits are poor posture, repetitive motions, and stagnation. By outfitting your workstation with more ergonomic tools, you can reduce your risk of office-induced MSDs which will make you healthier, smarter, and happier.

To get down to the nitty gritty, the phrase we're going to use is F.A.S.H.E.N. As in, ergonomic offices are totally in fashen/fashion (Can ya dig it?).

Here's what it means:

Flat Feet

Flat Feet: Your feet should be flat on the ground (or on a footrest, if you have one).

Arm's Length

Arm's Length: Keep your monitor at arm's length from your face. This helps reduce eye and neck strain.

Slouching is Bad

Slouching is Bad: Sit up straight! Slouching leads to muscle pain, carpal tunnel, and skeletal misalignment.


Headset: If you're on the phone all the time, grab a headset! Reaching for the phone throughout the day adds unneeded stretching and straining.

Eye Level

Eye Level: The top of your monitor should be right at eye level. This prevents neck strain and headaches.

Ninety Degrees

Ninety Degrees: Keep 90 degree T shapes on your appendages! That means your legs, elbows, and hips. You'll also want to keep your elbows close to your side, not flared out.

Diagram of F.A.S.H.E.N - Flat feet, Arm's length, Slouching is bad, Headset, Eye leve, Ninety degrees

OK, FASHEN, got it. Now what? We're glad you asked.

Converting your office to an ergonomic workstation can be a major overhaul or a slow, piecemeal improvement process. Here's the steps that we'd recommend for you to get your office space body friendly and anti-MSD.



A commonly repeated phrase says that you should always buy quality products that separate you from the ground. It's usually cited in reference to tires for your car, mattress, and shoes. The thought process is that buying quality products will last longer, work better, be safer, and ultimately pay for themselves over years of use.

Add a quality office chair to the list of products that you shouldn't skimp on.

We recommend getting an office chair that's designed to be ergonomic which usually means that it has:

Office Chair Diagram
Ample lumbar support Ample lumbar support
Height Adjustable Seat Height Adjustable Seat
Rolls Easily Rolls Easily
Supportive seat Supportive seat

Having a chair with these features will instantly cut down your risk of MSDs by supporting your body in the right places (lower back and glutes), putting your joints at proper angles, and make work overall more comfortable. If you want an ergonomic work environment, you HAVE to start with the chair.

To help you get an idea of where to look for your next task chair, read over our list of the Top 10 Office Chairs or try the Office Chair Genius.

When sitting in your chair, you should have ample lumbar support. Your thighs should be parallel to the ground with your feet flat on the floor. Your arms should rest comfortably at your sides with your elbows at a nice 90 degree angle to your keyboard. Which leads us to our next point.



If you're having terrible flashbacks to your mom yelling at you to clean your room, good! You need to clean your desk up to make it more ergonomic. Part of that means reducing clutter, but most of it is keeping your work tools nearby in convenient and easy to use places. For example, if you staple often, you'll want to keep the stapler within arm's reach in a non-obstructive and easy to find location. The key is to reduce unnecessary strain and stretching, especially with movements that you do repetitively.

Another part of getting your desk ergonomic is making sure that you're keeping it at the right height in relation to your body. Remember the rule of Ts? You want your major joints (except for shoulders—they should be relaxed with your arms next to your body) to be at 90 degrees. That means legs, elbows, and knees.

Desk Organization. Remove the clutter!


Tall People

Most likely, if you're exceptionally tall, you'll run into the problem of having a desk height that's too low. If you adjust your chair to the correct height with your legs and feet properly aligned, your desk will be too low, and your forearms will be at a downward slope to the desk surface. One solution is to look into a height adjustable desk that you can make the perfect height for your body. Another solution is to get creative with your desk by placing some blocks under the legs to raise it up a bit. That should allow you to adjust your chair to an ergonomic height in relation to your desk surface.

Short People

If you're shorter, you'll find that your desk surface is too high. To combat the mismatch, the best thing to do is raise your seat height so that your elbows are at 90 degrees, and then add a footrest under your feet so that they are flat and your thighs rest comfortably on your seat. Presto! Your desk is on the path do being more body friendly!

F.A.S.H.E.N. For Life!


Once you have the basics down, you're ready to move onto the more nuanced arrangements that an ergonomic workstation should have. These are things that you can do with household objects, or you can opt for specially tailored solutions that we carry.

Here are some ideas:

Monitor Placement – Your computer screen should be about an arm's length away from your body. Your eyes should line up with the top edge.

Our Solution: An adjustable monitor arm like the M8 or the Flo.

Household Solution: Prop up your monitor with books or boxes.

Cable Management – There's no quicker way in the office for a surprise emergency trip visit than by tripping over unruly wires and cables. Get them out of the way!

Our Solution: Cable Drop Clips, Neatlinks Cable Management, Flexible USB Hub

Household Solution: Zip Ties, Rubber Bands, or String

Proper Elbow Angle – If you don't have a desk height that you can adjust, there are still ergonomic options to keep your arm joints happy.

Our Solution: Keyboard and Mouse Trays like this one from Herman Miller or the 5G Keyboard Tray.

Household Solution: Unless you're handy, not much you can do.

Sufficient Lighting – An often overlooked part of ergonomic spaces are having the correct lighting.

Our Solution: Adjustable task lights like the Ardea Personal Light, Z Bar Lamp, or Link Lamp

Household Solution: Regular Table Lamp with soft-light bulb (LED preferred)

Organization – Get the loose papers, rogue pens, and office tools straightened out and readily available

Our Solution: Cabo Letter Basket, Anderson Desk Organizer, Rolling File Cabinet

Household Solution: Recycled shoe box, Old cup

Back Support – You need to protect your back. The best way to do that is with proper lumbar support.

Our Solution: Ergonomic chair with integrated lumbar support.

Household Solution: Pillow or rolled up towel for the lower back,