Modern Office Furniture

What Is The Best Shape For A Sit-Stand Desk?

Autonomous Autonomous | Mar 9, 2018
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So, you’ve done it. You’ve decided to invest in an ergonomic shaped sit-stand desk. You’ve bookmarked a library of options, but you’re still confused as to what makes the best shape for a sit to stand desk. There are plenty of ergonomic shaped sit-stand desk designs on the market, and it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed by the options. There are curves, bends, right turns, and u-turns in your path to ergonomic success. You see accessories as well: tiltable keyboard trays, attachable monitor stands, and shelves that you’re not yet sure how to use.

The best shape for a sit to stand desk for you depends on your body type, your line of work and type of workspace. There are some set templates on ergonomic design, but you are the person who knows best how you’ll set up this desk, how you’ll use it, and need to navigate around it. Since almost every aspect of desk design has become customizable, you can choose a combination of all these elements will truly work the best for you.

WHY SHOULD THEY HAVE A SHAPE AT ALL?

Ergonomists promote keeping frequently used items in the "neutral reach zone" or "optimal reach zone," which is defined as "the area that can be conveniently reached with a sweep of the forearm while the upper arm hangs in a natural position at the side".

Why? Keeping items in your optimal reach zone helps to reduce the effort associated with accessing commonly used items, minimizing stretching motions over your desk for long periods of time that can result in shoulder and back pain.

Of course, different desk shapes will result in more or less desktop area (and items) remaining in the optimal reach zone. An ergonomic shaped sit-stand desk takes these things into account.

The diagram below shows how the optimal reach zone and extended reach zones—the "usable" sections of the desk surface—don't make up as much of the desktop surface as people think.

Here’s a rectangular desk for comparison:

To solve this ergonomic issue, there have been several types of desk shapes created. Here are some of the shapes to seek out while buying an ergonomic shaped stand up desk.

CURVED

The simplest ergonomic shaped sit-stand desk that begins to solve this optimal reach zone issue is a curved shape desk.

 

The slight curve in front of the desk allows your body to lean a few inches closer to your monitor while expanding your arc of reach toward your desk items. It also eliminates the hard edge on the front of your ergonomic shaped sit-stand desk, the one which your torso and wrists are usually pressed against for many hours a day (although ideally, your wrists should rest comfortably on an ergonomic wrist pad near your mouse). 

Users rate this simple shape adjustment highly in terms of comfort and aesthetics. The curve conforms to the natural curve of the torso, and the design itself feels more welcoming and “designed” than a standard desk. Just this small design tweak seems to invite users further into their desk space without increasing the space it takes up in the office.

Ergonomic shaped sit-stand desks are an integral part of your office hardware. When you consider that employees may use them for 40 hours a week, it pays to get the best-designed solution that you can.

L-SHAPED

To take this curve a bit further, your ergonomic shaped sit stand desk can be in the shape of an “L”, with an additional segment set up on the right or left, depending on which hand you use.

 

While there is a larger optimal reach zone on an L-shaped desk compared to a 72" x 30" rectangular desk, a significant amount of the ergonomic shaped sit-stand desk surface in the corner is part of the "outer reach zone."

 

On smaller L-shaped desks such as those that are 60" x 60" x 30", the optimal reach zone becomes even more reduced. L-shaped workstations also become more cramped if a desk treadmill or exercise bike is added to your ergonomic setup, as they don't have the room to comfortably accommodate both a chair and a treadmill on the inside of the desk corner.

 

Still, an L-shaped ergonomic desk remains the best solution to maintain a large number of items on the desktop, especially in situations where the work area can only accommodate a certain width, preventing a larger rectangular desk from being installed. 

 

L-shaped desks offer more desktop space, but for many people it isn't necessary to have their desktop items traveling around the desk. For those that do require extra desk space for commonly used items such as peripherals and accessories to remain close at hand, the frequency with which these items are used may make it a better option to use a larger rectangular desk rather than an L-shaped desk.

 

 

U-SHAPED

 

 

Taking this concept one step further is a fully U-shaped sit-stand desk.

 

This variety of ergonomic shaped sit-stand desk offers plenty of desktop space in the optimal reach zone. If you have enough space in your office or workspace, this is often called the best shape for a sit to stand desk.

This is a fully-fledged work zone with enough room for multiple monitors, tons of peripherals and accessories, and any kind of customized ergonomic chair, stool, yoga ball, treadmill, or cycle. It has mostly curved edges that won’t press against your torso and wrists, and is, of course, height-adjustable to move from sit to stand and back again.

Of course, the more items you have on your desk, the trickier this adjustment will be, so when you have a setup this large, it only makes sense to use a digital height adjustment panel. Turning cranks or lifting hydraulic levers will cause jerky movements that may send your smoothie flying. Not to mention, it may be a strain on your muscles to attempt to adjust a desk this big via fiddly hand cranks. If the whole point of an ergonomic desk is not to put undue strain on your muscles, you certainly don’t want to have to shoulder the movement of your entire ergonomic shaped sit-stand desk every 3-4 hours.

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