The Ergonomic Dozen: 12 Products Ergonomic Experts Say You Shouldn’t Skip
Here’s what you really need and where to get it
Working from home may be convenient, but according to a University of Chicago study, WFH employees are also working longer hours. Sound familiar? Not having an ergonomic home office setup coupled with long periods of work serve to exacerbate the many health issues inherent in sitting at a desk and staring at a monitor all day. Ergonomic items are often promoted as the answer to eye strain, neck and back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and the various cardiovascular problems associated with sitting too long. But do you really need all the stuff that brands try to market to you?
We spoke to a panel of doctors who double as ergonomic experts to find out which products really provide ergonomic benefits.
Humanscale Freedom Chair with Headrest
If you have back pain (or if you’re trying to prevent it), the right office chair can make all the difference in the world. “Sitting in a comfortable chair allows you to hold your head comfortably over the pelvis without having the muscles do much extra work to bring the head in line over the pelvis,” says Rahul Shah, M.D., board certified orthopedic spine and neck surgeon at Premier Orthopaedic Spine Associates in Vineland, New Jersey. “Chairs with built-in adjustable supports for the back and neck work toward alleviating extra muscle work, and chairs with arms allow you to rest your forearms and elbow on the chair and they provide another point of support in keeping your head over the pelvis.”
Several ergonomic chairs provide these benefits, but the Humanscale Freedom Headrest chair in particular comes highly recommended by Dr. Sapna Sriram, a chiropractor and injury expert at Integra Health Centre in Toronto. As she explains, “It has built-in lumbar support as well as adjustable height features, which are important features to look for.” The chair has an articulating headrest and self-adjusting recline, so it moves when you do.
Additionally, since the armrests are attached to the back of the chair, they can easily move up and down depending on your needs. “Also, [the chair is] lightweight and adaptable for various body types, so if sharing with more than one person in a home office or shared space, this is convenient,” Sapna adds.
Fully Jarvis Bamboo Standing Desk
When using a standard desk, Rahul warns that it can contribute to a hunched forward position. “And this can lead to muscle fatigue, as the muscles work to support the head to come in line with the pelvis.” On the other hand, he says a standing desk can alleviate or prevent back pain by allowing you to use different muscles and adjust to the appropriate desk height. “This helps combat overuse and muscle fatigue associated with prolonged sitting.” And since standing desks promote the movement of all muscles, he says the increased blood flow helps your muscles stay in an optimized state.
While he doesn’t recommend a particular standing desk, the Fully Jarvis bamboo standing desk is a highly rated option available in either a rectangular or contoured shape. With the touch of the OLED button, it can be adjusted up to 50 inches in height and can hold up to 350 pounds. The Moso (Mao Zhu) species bamboo desktop comes from sustainable forests and is free from fertilizers or pesticides. The desk is also available in a variety of sizes from 30” x 24” to 78” x 30.”
VariDesk Essential 30 Standing Desk Converter
Suppose you already have a desk and you don’t plan on getting rid of it anytime soon? A laptop stand will come in handy. The VariDesk Essential 30 standing desk converter can provide the same benefits as a standing desk. “I absolutely love products like this, especially for those who simply cannot replace their existing desk,” Sapna says. “The ability to move from sit to stand is important for all of us throughout the day, even if only for small durations of time, as sitting for prolonged durations is toxic for not only our spines, but our overall health as well since it’s so sedentary.”
The VariDesk Essential 30 is 30 inches wide and requires no assembly. It has a two-tier design, so you can put your monitor or laptop on the top deck, and your keyboard on the lower deck. The spring-assisted rowing lift makes it easy to raise and lower the desk (or kitchen table) to the right height.
BenQ 32” Curved Monitor 3203R
Staring at your small laptop can strain your eyes, as well as your back and neck. “The BenQ 32-inch curved monitor is my recommended choice for computer ergonomics, since this type of monitor has visual and structural ergonomic features,” says Dr. Allen Conrad, B.S., D.C., CSCS at Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales, Pennsylvania. “It has an angled screen, which helps with eye glare, and other benefits include its low blue light and brightness intelligence settings, which can be customized to each user.”
Allen says that structural ergonomics involve how the monitor can be customized to your eye viewing level. He adds, “This model has a tilt function of 5 to 20 degrees, which can help prevent neck and shoulder strain for those on the computer for long hours.” In addition, the monitor can be raised up to 2.4”, which Allen says can help center the screen in your viewing area. As a bonus, the monitor is also great for streaming or video games, since it has a high refresh rate.
Lepow 15.6-inch Portable Monitor
If you don’t have space for a large monitor, Sapna recommends the Lepow 15.6-inch portable monitor. “This product is a good addition for those who work a lot on smaller screens such as their phones, including students,” she says. The monitor, which includes dual speakers, can also add real estate when positioned next to your laptop screen in either landscape or portrait mode.
“Prolonged use on a smaller screen, especially phones, can have negative impacts on the eyes, as it can be tiring to work on them for prolonged periods of time,” Sapna explains. “Another good application for this is to encourage students or even travelers and those who doomscroll on Instagram a lot on their phones to sit at a proper desk and use a bigger screen instead of holding their phones and commonly flexing their necks, which is something coined ‘text neck.’” She warns that text neck can lead to neck injury, neck pain, headaches, migraines, and even nerve injuries.
Grovemade Wood Monitor Stand
It’s important to raise your monitor or laptop off your work surface to bring it closer to eye level. “Many monitors do not have adjustable heights or tilt functions, and the user tends to develop neck and shoulder pain from a poor ergonomic computer workspace,” Allen says. He recommends the Grovemade wood monitor stand as a good option for a riser. “The Grovemade wood stand is lightweight, which makes it easily movable and doesn’t take up much desktop space.” The stand can hold up to 200 pounds and has space below to hide your keyboard when not in use.
The MYX II Connected Bike
Even with the best ergonomic desk setup, you need to be active, especially if you’re no longer getting the benefit of walking around in an office environment. “I commonly prescribe home-fitness exercise programs for my patients, and I recommend the MYX II connected bike,” Allen says. “It’s the latest in home fitness and includes a stationary bike that comes with a large 21-inch color screen, ergonomic pedal design, and many features that will make your home workout everything you were looking for.”
In addition, the bike can also monitor your heart rate, distance, calories burned, and is compatible with the Apple watch, making it a win-win for your health and your productivity. Allen adds, “The bike has access to MYX II online fitness trainers and also includes other types of classes, like kettlebells, yoga, HIIT, kickboxing, sculpt, and meditation.”
Logitech MX Keys Keyboard
An ergonomic keyboard can help with the hand and wrist pain commonly associated with working at your computer for extended periods of time. Allen recommends the Logitech MX Keys keyboard, not only because it is lighted and has a sturdy design. “Its greatest ergonomic feature is that each keyboard button has a concave-dished top, which is created to match your fingertips.” He explains that this type of design is more natural when you’re typing, making it quieter and more comfortable, while helping reduce typing errors.
Logitech MX Master 3 Mouse
“The Logitech MX Master 3 mouse may be exactly what you have been looking for in a computer mouse,” Allen says. “Its sleek design is specifically contoured to your hand, and the new Magspeed electromagnetic scrolling can move 1000 lines on your screen in one second.” Apparently, the mouse is also almost effortless to use. “The side thumb wheel can help you navigate around the computer screen with less wrist and arm movements,” he adds. “Anything that reduces the time needed to be typing on the computer can help prevent back and wrist pain commonly associated with prolonged repetitive typing motions.”
Marshall Mid ANC Wireless Headphones
Whether you commute to work or you work at home, Allen assures that the Marshall Mid ANC headphones are a solid choice. Headphones tend to be heavy, but these are lightweight (only 7.33 ounces), so your ears won’t start aching if you wear them for a long time. “Since they are wireless, you can move about while listening to music, which will reduce the amount of time sitting hunched over a computer,” he explains. “They also have active noise cancelling (ANC) and a Bluetooth aptX function, which will help with a seamless sound experience, so you can focus on your work.”
BenQ Desk Light
A well lit desk space is essential to your well-being. “If the space is too dark, you may end up squinting or straining, and similarly, glare is just too difficult on your eyes,” Sapna warns. “This can lead to headaches, migraines, etc.” She recommends natural light whenever possible, but when that’s not an option, Sapna likes the BenQ desk light. “A lamp that has various light settings is beneficial for ensuring one can adjust the settings to match the lighting needs of the room and the user’s eyes.” The Ben Q has a range of cool and warm temperatures that you can adjust as well as an anti-glare light that does not flicker. In addition, it automatically adjusts in brightness depending on the room’s ambiance.
Fluidstance Balance Board
Our final recommendation for an ergonomic home office setup is the Fluidstance balance board. It looks like something a teenager might use—and they can—but it can also be used by adults. “It helps work on your core muscles for stabilization, and also helps promote proper balance and posture,” Allen says. “This reinforced yet lightweight balance board has a study durable design, which helps the spine remain in a neutral position, while you perform your computer work tasks.” Plus, it might add a little fun to your workday.
Enjoy getting your home office ergonomics in tip-top shape.
Humanscale is the leading designer and manufacturer of high-performance ergonomic products that improve the health and comfort of work life. Through leveraging new technology in functional yet minimal designs, Humanscale transforms traditional offices into active, intelligent workspaces. Committed to making a net positive impact on the earth as well as our customers, Humanscale offers award-winning products designed with a focus on function, simplicity and longevity.