How Tall Should a Desk Be?

Are you thinking about getting a new desk for your workplace? Don’t quite know how tall your desk should be?

An ergonomically designed desk can relieve you of all the aches and pains associated with being seated for hours on end.

Gone are the days when people used to purchase a desk for their workplace based on factors like aesthetics, brand name, price, etc. You do need to take these things into account but without compromising on comfort and health. The science of ergonomics has opened the eyes of millions of office and home workers.

At a workplace — whether you work in a corporate office or home — there is a lot more going on than you think. The worker/workers are always under some pressure. The use of ergonomically designed furniture significantly improves a person’s overall health and productivity.

Did you know that there is a psychophysical condition known as “Technostress” which alters a person’s default sitting position? Yes, it does so due to the use of modern information technologies at work.

Have a look at the picture below. Due to work-stress, the man in the picture has incurred a total of six stress points in his upper body. An ergonomically designed desk can solve this problem.

What is the Standard Size of a Desk?

According to a report by the University of New Brunswick, in the North American region, the standard desk height is 30-inches. This report was published by Dr. Wayne Albert, Ph.D., an expert in ergonomics.

To help people dealing with pain and injury caused by being in a seated position during work hours, the University of New Brunswick published the Primer of Office Ergonomics. The primer also helps you choose the right desk for your workplace.

What is the Average Height of a Desk?

When choosing a desk for your work, it is vital to take into consideration the worker’s height. Back in the old days, office desk manufacturers did not come up with desks that served every employee (of varying heights) equally. A standard sized desk can only go well with a person taller than 6 feet.

Bear in mind that I am also considering the height of the chair. With a standard desk ( 30-inches in height), you can adjust the height of the chair only up to a specific limit. Go beyond the limit, and your knees will not be in alignment with your hips.

So, unless you are willing to keep your feet lifted with the help of additional support, you are better off purchasing a desk suitable for your height. In this section, I have shared a chart for you to choose the right seated or standing desk as per your height.

Average Height of a Seated Desk

As I shared in one of the previous sections, the standard height of an office desk in North America is approximately 30 inches. Unfortunately, no organization or community is deciding the standard desk height.

Dr. Wayne from the University of New Brunswick found out by analyzing desk sizes from popular office furniture manufacturers like Ikea and Herman Miller.

Furthermore, you will notice that not all websites state the same standard desk height. If you have already researched the internet on this topic, you must have noticed that the standard desk height is in the range of 28-30 inches. By referring to the table below, you can find out the right height for your new office desk.

I’d also like to call your attention to the fact that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) regularly publishes the data concerning height, weight, and waist circumference for adults aged 20 and over.

According to a report by the CDC, the average height of an American man is 5.75 feet, and that of a woman is 5.3 feet. Hence, employers should provide different sized office desks for men and women. Likewise, a self-employed person can get a custom-sized desk for his/her home office.

Height of the Worker (feet)Seated Desk Height (inches)
5’2″24″
5’3″24″
5’4″24″
5’5″25″
5’6″25″
5’7″25″
5’8″26″
5’9″26″
5’10”26″
5’11”27″
5’12”27″
6’0″27″
6’1″28″
6’2″28″
6’3″28″
6’4″29″
6’5″29″
6’6″29″
6’7″30″
6’8″30″
6’9″30″

Average Height of a Standing Desk

Apart from coffee shops or some shared workspaces, it is rare to see a standing desk with a fixed height. Although, you might still encounter some online. Judging from fixed standing desks offered by brands like Ikea, the average height is in the range 40-42 inches. Major brands do take into account the average height of American citizens. But you won’t find separate standing desks for men and women.

When it comes to a standing desk for office or work purposes, it is always wise to go for the ones with an adjustable height. You could be a male or a female; an adjustable standing desk allows you to adjust the height of the standing desk according to your height.

Below I have shared a table to help you adjust the height of your standing desk as per your height. You can refer to the same chart if you wish to buy a fixed-height standing desk. But, do not compromise more than an inch.  

Height of the Worker (feet)Standing Desk Height (inches)
5’2″37″
5’3″37″
5’4″38″
5’5″38″
5’6″39″
5’7″39″
5’8″40″
5’9″40″
5’10”41″
5’11”41″
5’12”42″
6’0″42″
6’1″43″
6’2″43″
6’3″44″
6’4″44″
6’5″45″
6’6″45″
6’7″46″
6’8″46″
6’9″47″

How Do You Determine the Correct Height of a Desk?

We already know that your height is a vital factor when determining the correct height of an office desk. Unless you are using a standing desk, an office desk is used in combination with an office chair. So, when determining the correct height of a desk, also see if it works well with the chair you already have.

The monitor should appear right in front of your eyes. You shouldn’t feel the need to tilt your head either up or down. Your elbows should make a 90-degree angle with the keyboard or the surface of the desk. Thirdly also make sure the knees are in alignment with your hips (and are at a 90-degree angle with the legs).

Lastly, for a desk height to be perfect, it is also essential that you can keep your feet on the floor without the need for additional support. You also don’t want them to hang in the air.

Now let’s talk about how to determine the height of a standing desk. You are already aware of the fact that the height of an adjustable standing desk can set as per your height. There are a few more points you need to check.

Make sure that your elbows are facing towards the floor and at a 90-degree angle with the keyboard. And the viewing distance should be no more than arm’s length. Plus, the monitor should be placed right in front of your eyes so you can view every inch of the screen without having to tilt your head.

When all the above conditions are met, you know you have found a seated/standing desk with the correct height.

Conclusion

Choosing the correct desk for your workstation is not that difficult. You can refer to the two tables to find a desk suitable for your unique physique. Both seated and standing desks have their pros and cons. Pick the one that best suits your needs.

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