When it comes to ergonomics and computer screens, it’s all in how you look at them. One thing is beyond dispute: If you want an ergonomic desk set up at the office or in a university setting, there’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to do it.
Finding the best position for a computer screen for your employees or students, or yourself is no small thing. After all, more and more hours per day are being spent sitting at a desk. Best to get this step of your ergonomic workstation set up correctly!
Why Bother With an Ergonomic Desk Setup?
But first … why haggle over eye level and such in the first place? Because workplace posture matters.
Many business people and students spend 40 hours per week or more at their desks. How they sit and how long they sit without moving can affect them physically and mentally, which in turn affects performance.
- Poor positioning of a computer monitor can lead to:
- Neck, shoulder, and back pain
- Eye strain -- the user’s eyes grow tired more quickly and struggle to focus
- Loss of concentration and efficiency
- Lost productivity and ROI
Knowing the perfect ergonomic position for your monitors gives you a good head start toward improving your overall ergonomic office setup.
Best Position for a Computer Screen
So, what’s the best ergonomic position for a computer screen? It depends on whom you ask.
There are varying answers on the internet about whether the user’s eyes should be level with the middle or the top of the screen. What we can say for sure is that the viewer’s eyes should not be level with the bottom of the screen. It’s better to be looking down than looking up.
Some ergonomic product suppliers even suggest putting the monitor 2-3” below eye level. In the end, keeping the top of the screen near eye level, give or take a few inches, will keep your people in a better position.
As far as the rest of your body goes, keep it at least arm’s length away from the screen. Make sure users are situated in the center of the screen, not twisting one way or another.
Dual Monitor Ergonomics
Things get more complicated with a dual monitor setup. It depends on the percentage of time spent with attention on one screen or the other. For example, if both monitors are used for the same amount of time, the best setup can be achieved by:
- Placing the screens directly in front of the user with the edges in contact with each other
- Arranging the screens into a semicircle
Alternatively, if you use one screen 80% of the time or more, it may help each user to determine his dominant eye. (Didn’t know you had one? The process for figuring out which eye is dominant can be found here.)
Once your user knows his dominant eye, he can set up the primary monitor as if it were a single screen and the secondary monitor beside it, with the outer edge angled inward. The secondary monitor should be on the dominant eye side.
Other Tips for an Ergonomic Computer Workstation
There are other ways to fix lost productivity resulting from a poor ergonomic workstation setup. Here are a few more tips for computer screens:
- Prevent glare. Screen glare can cause eye strain. But that’s not all -- glare can force you to adjust your posture to try to look around it. The resulting awkward body positioning can have painful side effects if done enough.
- Avoid direct light behind the screen. Position the screen so it faces away from or at a right angle to windows and other light sources, especially if blinds or curtains are not available. The less light, the better!
Tools of the Ergonomic Workstation Setup
In ergonomics and workplace design, proper placement of computer monitors is important, but not the whole picture. It’s just part of a package of elements that make a desk job or school studies more comfortable and healthy. Everything matters, from the office desk to the chair to the keyboard. In other words, the office needs to adjust to the user, not the other way around.
Have you looked at your setup and wondered, “What is standard desk height for ergonomics?” or, “What is the ergonomic height of a desk?” There isn’t a standard height for ergonomics because there’s too much variation in our shapes and sizes.
Features that can help achieve better office ergonomics include:
- Adjustable monitor arm or monitor lift mechanism. These allow the user to easily place the monitor in the best possible position. And they’re certainly steadier and more easily adjustable than a stack of textbooks.
- Sit-stand desk mechanism. This allows a user to maintain proper eye level and change position without losing other ergonomic benefits.
- Ergonomic keyboard tray. The keyboard also should be adjustable. It should sit at waist height when the user is sitting. Of course, come 3:30 p.m., many people are tired and tend to lean back in their chairs. A keyboard with tilting ability will help make up for sloppy posture.
Depending on how often people are chained to a desk or computer, having the best ergonomic equipment and setup may not be enough. Sometimes, users need to get out of their ergonomic chairs, step away from their ergonomic desks, and go “remote.”
Stretching Your Legs
Companies like Google encourage their employees to take their work away from their offices and desks. In this sense, “remote” doesn’t mean working from home -- employees can pick up their laptop and go to the lounge or outdoors. This allows them to work in whatever position they want for a little while, whether that’s standing, sitting, kneeling, or doing a cartwheel.
Experts recommend that every 30 minutes, users change body position and take their eyes off their screens for a bit. Why not do this in sunlight or on a comfy sofa?
This “remote working” adds flexibility to the workday. It’s a good way -- along with proper office ergonomics -- to shape a more happy and productive workforce.
Choosing Your Ergonomic Office Equipment
Looking to modernize your office or facility setup? It all starts with owning the proper ergonomic office equipment, followed by user training.
To learn more about ergonomic office products, check out the link below.
(Editor's note: This blog was originally published in October 2019 and was updated in July 2022.)