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Motion Control Engineering & Manufacturing Resources

What's the Best Position for a Keyboard? [Correct Office Ergonomics]

What's the Best Position for a Keyboard? [Correct Office Ergonomics]

Posted by Weber Knapp on Mar 20, 2024 3:45:00 PM

Correct Office Ergonomics - best position for keyboard

Sore wrists. A stiff neck. A tired back. 

Spend any amount of time working on an office computer with a keyboard that’s just not positioned correctly, and you’ll likely walk away feeling some discomfort. 

If your office or classroom is spending a good portion of its day sitting at a desk and working on a computer, you probably already know how important it is to promote correct office ergonomics. A healthy work lifestyle reduces back, neck, and eye strain, as well as the risk of desk job-related injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome.

While the position of the computer screen plays a big part in ideal desk-work posture, keyboard location is even more important. 

What’s the ideal keyboard height? In our view, it’s the ergonomic keyboard height, or one that allows you to sit in the proper typing position without creating strain.  

To that end, here are five tips get setting the best ergonomic position for a keyboard to help your employees hit that sweet spot that improves productivity and comfort. 

Best Ergonomic Position For a Keyboard

You’d be surprised how many things can influence a good -- or bad -- ergonomic office setup, especially when it comes to ergonomics for keyboards. Check your employees’ or students’:

  1. Position relative to the center of the keyboard and screen(s)
  2. Height comparative to the keyboard
  3. Distance keyboard to screen
  4. Distance from keyboard to chair
  5. Other hidden considerations

1. Staying Centered

Studies show that working with at least two monitors can increase productivity by as much as 30%. However, this creates a challenge for maintaining decent posture. 

There are two ways of looking at the problem, depending on how much your workers use each monitor. If they spend equal (or almost equal) time looking at each monitor, place the keyboard in the middle of them. This setup will minimize eye strain. 

If an employee spends 90% of his time looking at one monitor, he should place his keyboard in front of that screen. Additional monitors should be angled toward the user -- don’t place them parallel with the main monitor because that will make the screen harder to read without bending one’s back or straining one’s eyes.

Where does ergonomic keyboard position for a keyboard fit in? 

The best ergonomic position for a keyboard is directly in front of the employee and aligned with the monitor to ensure that both the keyboard and screen are within their primary field of vision. This setup helps maintain a neutral body position, reducing the need for excessive reaching or twisting, which can lead to strain and discomfort.

correct office ergonomics whats the best position for a keyboard - t-rex2. Height

If you spot any “T-Rex” typing in your office, you’ve got a problem.

Nobody should be reaching up toward the desk to access his keyboard. Arms should be at a 90° bend with the wrists in a slightly downward (negative) tilt position.

Users should keep their backs straight while typing so they’re viewing their screens at a slightly downward angle. Eyes should stay level with the very top of the monitor screen, or slightly below it. 

There are several products that improve blood flow and reduce the fatigue and strain of typing:

3. Distance from Screen

Workers should position themselves so their hands are comfortable -- but naturally -- hanging down to access the keyboard. It’s tempting to rest one’s palms on the desk, but this results in typing with your wrists at an upward angle -- a definite no-no.

4. Distance From Chair to Keyboard

The keyboard-to-chair distance your employees maintain will be influenced in part by the office ergonomics best practices listed above. Users’ seats should not be pushed so far in that they’re slouching to have their arms at a proper distance. The opposite is also true -- nobody should be so far away that they’re slouching over to type (the T-rex method).

5. Other Considerations

There are other tangible and intangible ideas you can deploy as part of your ergonomic office safety guide for desk work:

  • Ergonomic keyboard trays are great; a keyboard tray with a negative tilt might be even better. This feature can prompt users to keep their wrists in the suggested downward posture to prevent long-term aches.

  • Don’t set a bad office ergonomics example by failing to give employees the freedom to get up and move around every 30 minutes -- or at least have the ability to adjust positions. Many reputable studies say taking regular breaks to relax your eyes and walk around is crucial to long-term health in and out of work.

  • Establish an office ergonomics safety guide and make it part of the onboarding process for new workers. Let them know you’re willing to provide ergonomic essentials for the office and make sure they’re using them correctly.

The Other Half of Keyboard Ergonomics (Spoiler: It’s Equipment)

Proper posture and keyboard use improves a worker’s:

  • Productivity
  • Health
  • Mood

Don’t take keyboard use lightly -- it’s arguably the most important part of workplace ergonomics!

Posture and proper keyboard use are only one half of the journey to better office ergonomics. The other half is the equipment itself.

In addition to ergonomic keyboard and mouse trays, consider investing in:

  • Ergonomic keyboards that align with the natural resting position of hands and wrists. Features like a split design or curved keys adapt to the natural typing posture. 
  • Ergonomic mice designed to fit comfortably in the hand and reduce wrist twisting. 
  • Height-adjustable monitor stands ensure the screen is at eye level, reducing neck strain.
  • Ergonomic chair supports proper posture, complementing the benefits gained from correct keyboard and mouse use, thereby enhancing overall workplace ergonomics and well-being.


Best Positon for a Keyboard: 3 FAQs

Here’s a selection of FAQs we field on keyboard position ergonomics: 

How Do You Effectively Apply Keyboard Ergonomic Principles With a Standing Desk?

To use ergonomic principles with a standing desk, adjust the height so your forearms are parallel to the floor when typing, and the monitor is at or slightly below eye level.

How  Do You Adjust for Keyboard Ergonomic Positioning When Using a Laptop?

Consider a stand to elevate the screen to eye level and an external keyboard and mouse to maintain proper posture, preventing hunching over the device.

What Are the Long-Term Health Benefits of Office Ergonomics?

We could write volumes on this – and we have throughout our blog. The short answer: reduced risk of musculoskeletal disorders, improved posture, decreased discomfort, enhanced productivity, and overall well-being by minimizing strain on the body during work.

Not Seeing Your Question? 

To learn more about ergonomic office equipment for not just traditional desk jobs, but medical facilities as well, hit the button below:

Manager's Equipment Guide

(Editors Note: This article was originally published in April 2020 and was updated recently to represent current trends) 


Topics: Applications, Ergonomics, Safety, office equipment