Ensuring that your workspace is comfortable and ergonomic can significantly impact your overall well-being and efficiency. One often overlooked but essential aspect of creating a healthy and functional home office is adhering to the recommended standard desk height.
In the United Kingdom, standard desk height is guided by established recommendations from the British Standards Institute (BSI). These standards, which aim to optimise comfort and reduce the risk of strain or injury, recommend a standard desk height of 740mm ± 20 mm.
However, this standard height can vary based on the type of desk. You should also keep in mind that standard doesn’t mean the right height for you. Factors such as your height and monitor size can influence the optimal desk height for you.
Standard Desk Height In The UK
When making fixed desks, most furniture manufacturers adhere to the height standard established by the British Standards Institute.
The British Standards Institute (BSI) Recommendations
The British Standards Institute (BSI) is a respected organisation that sets guidelines for various industries, including office furniture and ergonomics, to ensure best practices and consumer safety.
According to the BSI, the recommended standard desk height falls under the regulation BS EN 527-1:2011, which pertains to “Office furniture – Work tables and desks.” This regulation provides specific dimensions and requirements that office furniture manufacturers should adhere to in order to create ergonomic and comfortable workspaces.
The BSI recommends a standard desk height of 740 mm for the majority of the adult population in the UK.
This measurement is based on average anthropometric data, which considers the heights and proportions of a diverse group of individuals.
By establishing a standard desk height, the BSI aims to provide a comfortable working environment for most users, enabling them to maintain a proper posture and reduce the risk of strain or injury associated with prolonged sitting or poor ergonomics.
However, it is essential to note that the recommended standard desk height may not be suitable for everyone, as individual needs and preferences may vary.
In such cases, adjustable desks and other ergonomic solutions can be employed to ensure a comfortable and productive workspace tailored to the user’s unique requirements.
Reasons for the Recommended Height
BSI bases its desk height recommendations on the following factors:
- Average anthropometric data: This is the main factor that the BSI uses for its furniture standards. Anthropometric data involves studying the measurements and proportions of a diverse group of individuals. This data allows the BSI to determine a height that accommodates the majority of the population, taking into account variations in height, leg length, and torso proportions.
- Compatibility with standard chair height: The recommended standard desk height also takes into account the average chair height, which is typically around 450 to 500 mm from the floor to the seat. This compatibility ensures that users can maintain a comfortable and natural posture when seated at their desks, the knees bent at a 90-degree angle and the feet flat on the ground.
By recommending a standard desk height of 740 mm, the BSI aims to reduce the risk of strain or injury associated with poor ergonomics in the workplace.
Maintaining a comfortable and natural posture can help prevent issues like back pain, neck pain, and repetitive strain injuries, ultimately increasing productivity and overall well-being.
Adjustable Desks: A Practical Alternative
While the BSI establishes the standard desk height at 740 mm, this standard refers to fixed desks only. Adjustable desks have a customisable height and typically suit a wider range of individuals.
Popular adjustable desk options include manual height-adjustable desks, electric height-adjustable desks, and sit-stand desks.
Manual Height-Adjustable Desks
These desks utilise hand cranks or knobs to adjust the height manually. You can raise or lower the work surface to a comfortable level by simply turning the crank or loosening the knobs.
The height range of manual adjustable desks can vary depending on the model, but typically they offer a range of approximately 600 mm to 900 mm.
Electric Height-Adjustable Desks
These desks come with an electric motor and a control panel, allowing you to raise or lower the desk’s height at the push of a button.
The electric mechanism provides smooth and effortless adjustments, making it easy to find your ideal desk height.
Electric adjustable desks often have a wider height range than their manual counterparts, with some models ranging from as low as 600 mm to as high as 1300 mm, catering to both sitting and standing positions.
Sit-stand desks, also known as standing desks, are designed to offer users the flexibility to switch between sitting and standing positions throughout the day.
These desks come in various styles, including manual, electric, or even pneumatic (gas-assisted) mechanisms for height adjustment.
Sit-stand desks can provide height ranges from around 700 mm for sitting to 1100 mm or more for standing, promoting movement and reducing the negative effects of prolonged sitting.
Desk Converters or Risers
For those who already have a fixed-height desk, desk converters or risers can be a practical solution to achieve adjustability.
These devices are placed on top of an existing desk and can be adjusted to different heights to accommodate both sitting and standing positions.
Desk converters often provide a height range of approximately 100 mm to 40 mm above the original desk surface.
Additional Factors To Consider For Optimal Desk Height
The standard desk height can vary between fixed and adjustable desks. Beyond that, you should also consider a few other factors.
The BSI calculates desk height standards based on the average population height. If you’re particularly short or tall, you may have to consider a different solution.
Shorter individuals should opt for an adjustable desk with adjustments starting at 600 mm of height. Increase the height in small increments at a time, until you can sit correctly. Unfortunately, lowering the height of a fixed desk is typically impractical (and sometimes impossible).
If you’re tall and need a higher desk, you can adjust the height of your fixed desk with a riser. Alternatively, you can invest in an electric or sit-stand desk.
Chair Height and Height Adjustment
Before adjusting the desk height, you should also consider the height of your chair. Standard desk chairs vary in height from about 450 mm to 500 mm. This range can accommodate most of the adult population at a standard fixed desk.
However, adjustable height chairs also exist. Investing in such a chair might be a good solution if you don’t want to replace your desk. Adjustable height chairs are typically cheaper than adjustable height desks.
Regardless of your choice, make sure your posture is correct to reduce strain on your body.
Type of Accessories
Beyond desk and chair height, there are ways to improve your posture and prevent related injuries.
Most people working at a desk all day perform repetitive hand movements. To prevent issues like carpal tunnel syndrome, you should invest in quality wrist rests and keyboard trays.
A monitor stand and desk risers can help adjust the height of a fixed desk to the posture of a taller person. For shorter people, a footrest can help maintain the correct posture without having to modify the desk height and without investing in a new chair.
The standard desk height in the UK is 740 mm, but the actual height of adjustable desks can vary from around 600 mm to 1300 mm. Alternatively, you could invest in a sit-stand desk, a desk riser, or a height adjustable chair.