Standing at Work: Above-Desk Keyboard Trays or a Sit-Stand Desk?

Standing at Work: Above-Desk Keyboard Trays or a Sit-Stand Desk?

Posted by Human Solution on Oct 12th 2012

Standing at work is officially a movement. A Lifehacker poll published earlier this week shows that more than 37% of voters were currently using a standing desk, more than 24.5% were planning to, and 37.78% weren't using one but were curious enough to click on the article. There's even a Standing Clock application to track how many hours a week you stand or sit.

Wired notes that historical greats Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Jefferson, Leonardo DaVinci, Benjamin Franklin, Valdimir Nabokov, and Winston Churchill all stood while they worked. For most of us, the benefits of standing vs sitting are quite obvious. We feel alert and the amount of time we spend "on task" increases. I use a sit-stand desk, and I find I no longer hit a "wall" around 2-3 p.m. One final kicker: Standing burns 40% more calories than sitting, without any of the scary hormone changes said to result from sitting all day.

So should we stand at any cost? As it turns out, no. If ergonomics aren't taken into consideration users may wind up with a host of other posture-related problems and pains. According to a Cornell University study, standing without a nod to ergonomics can contribute to wrist extension, a forward lean, and ultimately an increased risk for musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel.

This is why we recommend a sit-stand desk over an "above the desk" keyboard tray attached to a conventional desk. While keyboard trays are an essential piece of an ergonomic workstation, they can be limited as a complete standing solution. Allow me to walk you through my own workstation setup so you can see why.

At just under 5'4", I'm seated comfortably with my elbows parallel to the ground at 24". When I want to stand, I raise my desk to approximately 39". If I just had the keyboard tray, I'd have a tough time getting my seated elbow height of 24" all the way up to 39". (The greatest overall range I've seen offered is 13.5".) Ultimately, standing at your desk with a raised keyboard may work to alleviate the issues associated with sitting all day, but a sit-stand desk is necessary in order to be ergonomically healthy.

If you are curious what your perfect setup would look like, check out our Ergonomic Desk, Chair, and Keyboard Height calculator. You can also speak with one of our ergonomic professionals through our live chat service, call us at 800-531-3746, or email to see what the right solution is for you.

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