Ergonomic Standing Desks and Chairs

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How to Choose the Best Shape for Your Sit-Stand Desk

25 June 2021

Following tons of scientific research evidencing the health dangers of prolonged sitting, sit-stand desks (also referred to as standing desks, stand-up desks, or sit-to-stand desks) have become quite popular. Many companies and individuals have jumped onto the sit-stand desk bandwagon with a focus on alleviating the effects of prolonged sitting while enhancing productivity at the same time. A standing desk allows you to seamlessly create a balance between sitting and standing (standing too long can be harmful as prolonged sitting) to boost productivity and stay healthy. 

If you're thinking of getting an ergonomic sit-stand desk in order to start experiencing its benefits, there are plenty of options to consider. Thanks to their increased popularity, sit-stand desks have diversified and now come in different shapes, sizes, brands, designs, and color combinations, making it a bit daunting when it comes to choosing the best standing desk.  

Amidst the numerous factors to consider in choosing a standing desk, the shape is a crucial consideration as it ultimately determines the functionality and the overall ergonomic success of the sit-stand desk. The shape of a sit-stand desk will determine how you’ll set up the desk, use it and how it will complement your workspace. With that in mind, it’s essential to choose an ideal shape for your sit-stand desk. Here’s an insight into choosing the best standing desk shape to meet your precise needs. 

Why Shape is Important when it Comes to Sit-Stand Desks

When designing an ergonomic product, ergonomists leverage Anthropometry (Study human body measurements) to establish the correct measurements and size on the product. An essential aspect of Anthropometry in regards to desk ergonomics is the “reach zones”. 

The reach zones are categorized into three primary categories:

  • The Optimal Reach Zone- The optimal (or primary) reach zone is the region on your desk where you can comfortably reach an item without having to shift your arms from its natural resting position. This region typically falls 15 to 17 inches in front of you. It's the ideal region for placing essential items such as pens, notebooks, or computer peripherals, such as the keyboard and mouse. 
  • The Maximum Reach Zone- Also referred to as the secondary reach zone, this zone is basically the furthest point your arms can reach at full extension without having to slouch forward or leave your seat. The maximum reach zone sits beyond the optimal reach zone and falls 17 to 30 inches from you. It’s best for placing infrequently used desk items such as a telephone or a printer. 
  • The Outer Reach Zone-The outer (or tertiary) reach zone is the region where your hands cannot reach even at full stretch. You have to lean forward, stand or bend to access this zone. It falls approximately 30 to 44 inches from you, and it's ideal for placing items you rarely use on a daily basis. Such items may include decorative items, reference books, humidifiers, etc. 

From the above brief, it’s evident that the different zones have varied functions. The shape of the desk determines how these zones are arranged on the desk. As such, the shape of the desk ultimately has a lot of influence on the functionality of the desk. 

Common Ergonomic Sit-Stand Desk Shapes 

As mentioned earlier, sit-stand desks come in a wide range of shapes intended to achieve different purposes. Here’s a look at the common standing desk shapes.

Rectangular Standing Desks 

Rectangular sit-to-stand desks are pretty common and are great for small spaces. They are pretty versatile, meaning they can be used for different purposes. Rectangular standing desks often come in different varieties and height adjustment choices, allowing you to seamlessly alternate between sitting and standing. Depending on its size, a rectangular standing desk can be a good fit for compact office spaces. 

Curved Standing Desks 

As the name implies, curved standing desks feature a curve out of the midsection of the table or the part of the table that’s situated for the actual sitting. Curved standing desks are more comfortable thanks to the slight curve in front of the desk that conforms to the natural curve of the torso, allowing you to feel more connected to the workstation. The curved front edge offers sufficient room for your wrist and torso and eliminates the more common solid edge restriction. This enables you to avoid wrist strain or carpal tunnel syndrome, due to constantly pressing your wrists and torso against the hard edge. 

Also, curved desks are more centered around you, providing a more expansive optimal reach zone. This ensures that you avoid unnecessary slouching and maintain the correct posture for enhanced working comfort and productivity. Besides, curved sit-stand desks are more aesthetically pleasing compared to straight edges. In summary, curved standing desks are highly rated in terms of aesthetics and comfort. 

L-Shaped Sit-Stand Desks 

These standing desks are basically designed in the shape of an “L” with an additional desk attached to the left or right depending on the setup and a user’s dominant hand. L-shaped standing desks are fundamentally two workstations joined into one or two.

L-shaped standing desks provide a great deal of desktop space and are thus ideal for holding a large number of objects on the desktop. For instance, they can neatly hold multiple monitors without the desktop appearing overcrowded. With an L-shaped standing desk, you can access multiple workstations without really having to move around in the office space. 

The major downside with L-shaped standing desks is that they offer a minimal optimal reach zone. Yes, they provide a spacious desktop, but most of the desk surface falls in the outer reach zone, which really isn't helpful in regards to ergonomics. The wide outer reach zone makes these desks ideal for desk workers requiring many fixed items on the desk surface, i.e. pro-gamers, forex traders, etc.

L-shaped standing desks take up much space, thus not ideal for minimalist office spaces. Additionally, an L-shaped workstation appears cramped when an exercise bike or a desk treadmill is added to the ergonomic office setup. These desks are best for spacious office spaces. 

U-Shaped Standing Desks 

U-shaped standing desks have been termed the ultimate ergonomic office desks as they provide plenty of space in all three regions, i.e. optimal, maximum and outer reach zones. A U-shaped standing desk offers you more than enough room for your monitors, tons of accessories and peripherals, or anything else you'll want to be placed on the desk surface and within arm's reach. Besides, it offers sufficient leg space for an ergonomic office chair, cycling chairs, treadmill, yoga ball, and stool, among others. 

U-shaped standing desks are pretty comfortable to use. They situate the user in the middle of the workstation and with pretty much everything within easy reach. What's more, U-shaped standing desk edges are mostly curved, meaning that they won't press against your wrists or torso, ensuring you remain comfortable and avoid wrist strain. 

While they offer plenty of benefits, U-shaped standing desks come with some downsides. U-shaped standing desks require plenty of office space owing to their enormous size. Also, its vast size, as well as the plenty of objects harbored on the desk surface, makes it a little challenging to adjust its height, which explains the need for a digital height adjustment feature. Users are required to lift hydraulic levers or turn cranks to either lift or lower the desk to their desired height. Attempting to adjust the desk's height manually may strain your muscles, going against the whole point of ergonomics. 

U-shaped standing desks are also extremely expensive, costing up to $5000 apiece. This amount can buy up to 20 standard height-adjustable standing desks or close to 10 dual-motor L-shaped standing desks. 

Choosing the Best Shape for your Sit-Stand Desk- Factors to Consider 

No single standing desk shape is considered as ultimately good or unusably bad. The best shape for your sit-stand desk should be based on several factors, including: 

Office Space

Depending on the shape of a sit-to-stand desk, the size of your office space is an essential factor to consider. If you have minimal space in your work environment or are considering setting up a minimalist home office, curved or rectangular office desks are viable options. Alternatively, if office space isn't a limitation, you can go for an L-shaped or U-shaped standing desk, depending on the exact dimensions of your office space. U-shaped standing desks, in particular, require enormous space to fit perfectly and appear shipshape, not cramped.   

Intended Purpose 

What's your intention with the standing desk? Is it game streaming, financial markets trading where you need multiple monitors to analyze markets, or just standard office work? If your intended purpose is gaming or multi-tasking in different setups, L and U standing desks are suitable options, but only provided that you have sufficient space. If you're considering shifting from a standard office desk to a sit-stand office desk for a healthier lifestyle, you can consider curved or rectangular standing desks. 


The cost implication is a vital factor when looking to purchase a standing desk. When it comes to price, L-shaped and U-shaped sit-to-stand desks are more expensive compared to other options. Height-adjustable U-shaped desks are the most costly, with prices starting at around $3000 and can go as high as $7000 depending on the features. Rectangular and curved standing desks are more budget-friendly options, and you're less likely to spend a fortune acquiring them. 

Nonetheless, considering that standing desks are a long-term investment, you should have a decent budget allocation before starting to look to make the switch. It is a worthy investment in the long run, as long as your standing desk matches your specific needs. 

What is the Right Standing Desk Shape for You?

Sit-stand desks alleviate the effects of prolonged sitting, ensuring you're productive and healthy. These desks come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, including curved, rectangular, U, and L shaped. As such, picking the right shape for your standing desk isn’t exactly a walk in the park. 

Picking the right shape for your standing desk should be a top consideration when selecting a sit-to-stand desk. The shape ultimately determines the functionality and ergonomics of a standing desk. The ideal shape of your standing desk is dependent on several factors, including the size of office space, intended purpose, budget, and, of course, personal taste. 

The Adjustable Standing Desk Pro Series is a highly recommended option if you're considering a rectangular sit-stand desk. Alternatively, if the L-shaped standing desk feels right for you, you'll want to go for the Seiffen Laminated Spliced L-shaped Standing Desk, which provides immense versatility and comes with rounded corners. All in all, whatever option you settle on, standing desks offer you so many benefits in regards to your physical and mental health that the cost incurred acquiring them feels insignificant.