The Perfect Ergonomic Office
Your time at work can make you worse, or it can make you better. We all want to get better, so designing our office environment correctly is critical.
That's why we've spent years in the industry and studying the science of ergonomics. This list (ordered by importance) is the result of our expertise and experience. We always recommend the perfect pick, but even the value picks are better than nothing.
The most important thing is to just start moving in the right direction as soon as possible, so don't leave here without picking up at least one of these products or tips. Enjoy!
The Standing Desk
With everything we know now about how sitting all day is really detrimental, any ergonomic office needs to start with a standing desk. We're fans of the type of standing desk that is fully adjustable from sit to stand, but for the budget conscious, a topper can work. But if you can swallow the relatively modest investment in your health and productivity, the ability to easily raise and lower your whole desk between preset heights is fantastic.
Jarvis is our pick, and really it was a no-brainer. The team at Fully delivered a perfect product with Jarvis. It's simple, straightforward, sturdy - it just works. And it does it at an incredible price point for unprecedented value. You can even bundle your Topo Mat in for a hefty discount!
Spark is the perfect "Start Standing Now" Desk. If you don't pick up anything else on this list, grab Spark. It's attractive, stable, and provides solid ergonomics. It even works with big monitors. At $25, why the heck wouldn't you try it?!
The Standing Desk Mat
You know what you call a standing desk that you spend most of your time sitting at? A big waste of money. So it's important that you actually use your desk for standing - and that you get the true health benefit of standing desks: movement! Fortunately, a good mat will just about guarantee that you use your desk enough. And a GREAT mat will ensure that you get the true movement benefits too. The standing desk mat is the one place that we feel most strongly about our Perfect Pick. This is not the right area to cut corners to save money.
Topo is really the ONLY mat designed SPECIFICALLY for standing desk users like you. As they say, nature isn't flat, so neither is Topo. Topo's calculated, cushioned terrain actually drives you to move more at your standing desk, which means healthier standing. Of all our perfect picks, Topo is far and away the one most important investment in your health, because the ground in front of your desk is actually your most significant interface with your office.
$199 $119 (4 colors w/ 7yr Warranty)
Cumulus ProCheap Pick
We can't stress enough that Topo is the way to go for your standing desk mat. But if you really insist on saving a few bucks (you shouldn't - these mats will last you 7-10 years), the Cumulus Pro is the best of the cheap kitchen mats for use at your standing desk.
More and more, people are using laptops as their primary computers. If that's you, you'll definitely need an external keyboard and mouse because laptop ergonomics are AWFUL. In a keyboard, you're looking for a few things. First, you want a split keyboard so that your wrists can take a more natural position (try putting your hands in front of you at waist height with your thumbs touching - pretty uncomfortable right?). Second, you want the front edge of the keyboard to be higher than the back (called a negative angle) because it prevents carpal tunnel and improves your shoulder health. It's a commonly repeated myth that you want your elbows at 90 degrees - you'll be much healthier and happier with the keyboard tilting away from you.
The Microsoft Sculpt Keyboard is epic! It provides absolutely perfect ergonomics, and does it at a great price. The keyboard is split and tilted sideways to support you in the transverse plane, and tilts away from you to further increase shoulder and wrist health. And the number pad is seperate, so you can put your mouse much closer to your keyboard, which helps you even more! When you first get it, add the included tilt base and you are ready to rock.
Sculpt w/ MouseValue Pick
For just $9 more, you can get the best keyboard bundled with a pretty good mouse, so getting them both together is a great deal. For more on the mouse, see the next section.
If the Sculpt feels too pricy to you, that's fine. You'll miss out on the split and tilt, and you'll be stuck with a number pad. But for less than $10, you'll be preventing the worst damage, because any external keyboard beats the heck out of using your laptop keyboard.
The goal of a good ergonomic mouse is to get your shoulder into a healthier, externally-rotated position (think of the position your shoulder is in when you use a steering wheel - that's what we're shooting for). Fortunately, there's an impressive crop of vertical, or "handshake", mice on the market now.
This is a category where there is very little penalty for going with the Value or Cheap picks. That said, if money is no object and you want the cream of the crop, the Evoluent Vertical Mouse is the best around.
Sculpt MouseValue Pick
The Sculpt mouse is a super strong Value Pick, and is probably the best choice for most people. Even though it doesn't look like a typical vertical mouse, it does a great job of positioning your hand vertically. And if you bundle it with the Sculpt keyboard, you can get this mouse for only $9 (see keyboard section).
Anker Vertical MouseCheap Pick
This is perhaps the best Cheap Pick in the list. Some users may find the buttons too difficult to click, or that the mouse requires too much thumb engagement, but the hand and wrist position promoted by this mouse is solid. And at under $20, that's a steal.
If you don't get your monitor(s) up higher than the desktop surface, your neck will be hurting in no time, because you'll constantly be craning to look down. Ideally, you want your eyes level with the top of the monitor(s), or even a few inches below. A monitor arm is a great way to get an auxiliary monitor up in the air, but for your laptop, you'll need a stand.
Arm Mount TrayPerfect Pick
The gold standard here is maximum adjustability for both your laptop and your external monitor. And that can be easily had with a dual monitor arm set up and one of these simple arm mount trays. The tray itself is only $25, but springing for a dual monitor arm
over a single will tack on another $90.
Rain StandValue Pick
The rain stand is super elegant (especially for you mac users) and provides a nice sturdy way to get your latop screen up off your desk. Some users (especially taller users) may feel the need to increase the height further with a stack of books under the stand.
Stack o' BooksCheap Pick
It doesn't get any cheaper than free! Simply stack some books under your laptop to raise the screen to the proper height. If you switch a lot between sitting and standing, you may get annoyed with this, but it's a great way to get started.
Extra productivity is a blessing. Extra neck pain is not. Ideally, you want your eyes level with the top of the monitor(s), or even a few inches below. If you switch between sitting and standing regularly, the adjustability of a monitor arm will more than pay for the arm itself.
Dual Monitor ArmPerfect Pick
Running two monitors provides a huge productivity boost. If you have two monitors, a dual monitor arm provides the flexibility you need to make sure your setup is always ergonomically tuned. Use a laptop as one of your monitors? Grab a laptop tray attachment
for one of the arms!
Single Monitor ArmValue Pick
The simple, elegant way to make sure your monitor is always at the right height is an infinitely adjustable monitor arm. Good bye neck pain!
Stack o' BooksCheap Pick
It doesn't get any cheaper than free! Simply stack some books under your monitor to raise the screen to the proper height. If you switch a lot between sitting and standing, you may get annoyed with this, but it's a great way to get started.
Once you get an external keyboard to free yourself from the chains of terrible laptop ergonomics, you don't need an external monitor. But running two monitors simultaneously is good ergonomics too, because it allows you to be more productive. Make sure you get a monitor with mounting holes on the back, in case you decide to get a monitor arm at some point (our picks all have mounting holes).
Acer 27"Perfect Pick
All three picks here are from the same high quality family of monitors. The most important thing we looked for, after performance, was mounting holes on the back for a monitor arm.
Acer 24"Value Pick
Not sure what size you want? 24" is pretty standard and hard to go wrong with.
Acer 19.5"Cheap Pick
19.5" is not tiny, but that price sure is. It's still a size upgrade over your laptop screen, and when used as a second monitor will deliver big productivity benefits.