Did you know that the average height for a person is increasing, yet the standard height for desks has remained unchanged for over 30 years?
Our friends at Posture People regularly see people over 6’5” - their tallest customer (a freelance graphic designer) has topped the scales at 6’10” - and we asked co-founder Jo Blood to explain how the workplace can be made more comfortable for tall people.
The simple fact is that standard office furniture is too small for people at this height. The common problems are that the desk heights are too low, chairs are too short to provide support under the legs, and monitor screens are set too low.
The correct position to be sitting at is to have your feet firmly on the floor, raise the chair up as high as possible, bend your arms at a comfortable right angle, and then this is the perfect desk-height for you.
There are several options for resolving desk height issues:
Desk raisers: These can be a simple as blocks of wood under desk legs, the only problem is that these aren’t always that sturdy and if the desk moves off the raisers, then the desk can drop in height very suddenly (which isn’t great for health and safety).
The next option is set up a height adjustable desk. The height of the desk can be altered at the time of installation allowing the ideal height to be selected. This is the sturdiest cost-effective solution.
The Rolls Royce solution is to set up an electric height adjustable desk, the electric mechanism allows the user to alter the desk height without any difficulty. So you can actually use the desk to sit and stand at, so giving you the maximum versatility when it comes to your working posture.
There are lots of chairs on the market, but when you are selecting a chair – go and sit in it! And sit in it for a prolonged period so that you can really assess if it provides support. When you are tall, one of the most important aspects is the height of the chair. If you get your desk to the right height – will your chair also come up to the right height? A quick test is to sit on the chair increase it to full height – are your hips above your knees? If not, then the chair doesn’t come up high enough for you.
And finally, make sure the monitor is at the right height. If you are a touch typist, then the top of the screen needs to be at your eye height level. If you need to look at the keyboard to type, then set your monitor at a slightly lower height. The result you are trying to achieve is to minimise any nodding movement on your neck, looking at the keyboard and the monitor.
The final advice as always is don’t get stuck at your desk, I know deadlines creep up but taking regular breaks (whether you are tall or not) is essential. A mini-break will make you feel better when you sit back down, and therefore you can work harder in between the breaks and may even make that deadline quicker.
Jo Blood is an expert in workstation ergonomics and co-founder of Posture People.