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I saw some scary office desks that do not have a keyboard tray and I scared because I have years of neck pain because of using trayless desk setup which makes my arms 3 inches higher than where it supposed to be.

Let say I have to work on the office environment that has no keyboard tray setup on the desk and chair height is not raisable enough level and the main problem is my arms are not parallel to the keyboard. I am already using a laptop stand for proper monitor height.

What should I do?

I looked height-adjustable keyboard trays but their size is between 70-80 cm which makes them unportable with a backpack. Any product advice lower than 45cm is appreciated.

My chair is not raisable enough to be parallel to the keyboard.

My current solution for this problem is putting the keyboard on my lap for proper ergonomics.

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    Are keyboard trays commonplace? i have never seen them. Usually, people simply lower their desk (so keyboard, mouse and pen/paper are all at the proper height), and then raise their monitors back up. Monitor stands are more common than keyboard trays... – ThisIsMe Aug 5 at 10:38
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    Last time I saw a keyboard tray was years ago. Where are you writing from? Maybe it is something usual in a specific field/country? – Paolo Aug 5 at 10:43
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    Any reasonable employer should be willing to provide a tray if you need one for ergonomic reasons, precluding the need to haul a personally owned tray back and forth on a daily basis. – Dan Neely Aug 5 at 10:43
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    Why do you need it to fit in a backpack? Can’t you just leave it in the office? – AffableAmbler Aug 5 at 16:14
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    Footrests are a lot more common - I am familiar for the RSI regs in the UK and I have never heard of these "trays" – Neuromancer Aug 6 at 19:54
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There are two ways to get the proper relationship between torso position and keyboard position. One is to adjust the keyboard position. The other is to adjust your chair. These days, adjustable office chairs seem more common than keyboard trays.

First raise your chair until you have your wrists straight, hands at or below elbow level. If your feet do not rest flat on the floor, get a footrest. Finally, adjust the monitor height so that the top of the screen is at or below eye level.

See the Mayo Clinic's how-to guide for more detail and a picture.

If your chair is too low even at maximum height you need to ask your manager for a higher chair. You can point to the Mayo guide to explain why you need it.

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    Adjustable chairs are good up to a point - that point being the height of the desk. In my experience as a taller person, most office desks are too low for me once the chair is adjusted to the apprproate height. – Laconic Droid Aug 5 at 12:33
  • @LaconicDroid The linked guide suggests "If the desk is too low and can't be adjusted, place sturdy boards or blocks under the desk legs." – Patricia Shanahan Aug 5 at 12:36
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    If it is what they prefer, a keyboard tray is really a better solution than an unnaturally high chair requiring a foot rest. Don't force the worker to adapt to an arbitrary height standard, adapt the height of the keyboard to the worker's actual height. Ultimately, go with what makes the worker comfortable, not what you imagine would work for them. – Chris Stratton Aug 5 at 17:07
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I'm a native English speaker and I had no idea what a keyboard tray is, I'm pretty sure I saw one once in the nineties. You are framing the question like the company is being unusual or irresponsible by not supplying this rarely seen plastic artifact.

I suggest you look past your lack of keyboard tray and deal with the possible real problem of desk ergonomics. Use books or boxes to adjust your screen height, if your chair is too low, which I doubt tell them and if you really really can't do without a keyboard tray just buy one.

  • Reams of paper are your friend. All of them are exactly the same size. I'm using 6 of them to raise my keyboard, mouse, and deskspace up 2 inches. If I needed 4 inches then I'd use 12. – Dark Matter Aug 5 at 13:00
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    You are obviously tall. Might I suggest 5 seconds with Google for your confusion? "Books or boxes to adjust screen height" is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what will help a person who needs a keyboard tray. – Ella Aug 5 at 16:31
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    While there are definitely DIY coping mechanisms, a keyboard tray can really be the best solution as it lets the person keep their feet on the ground. Most office desks are made to fit moderately tall males, they can be a bad match for many women and shorter men (and probably also uncomfortable for very tall men or women, too). – Chris Stratton Aug 5 at 16:59
  • The real problem here is seems to be a medical condition and has to be addressed professionally and not be a product of jerry-rigging exercise. Some companies even have ergonomics specialists to assess and with any issues like this – AlexanderM Aug 5 at 20:47
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I suggest simply addressing the issue with your manager or the person who orders office supplies at your workplace. to me this seems like a small investment for a large potential gain from the companies perspective(even one sick day due to neck issues costs them more than the keyboard tray) and a decent company would get you one without too many issues.

One suggestion though that could work in the meantime is to raising your monitor instead of lowering your keyboard. This could be done with anything from a stack of printer paper to a couple of books you have laying around. an added advantage is that a purpose made monitor raiser is a bit cheaper so if raising the monitors works for you it's easier to get one from work than a keyboard tray.

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Here is a keyboard tray: https://www.amazon.com/Adjustable-Keyboard-Ergonomic-Standard-Cartmay/dp/B06ZZXNDHP

enter image description here

For someone who is short, and works in a typical cubical in the United States (where the desk height cannot be adjusted), raising the chair will stop your feet from being properly flat on the floor, which causes back problems. Patricia Shanahan's link to the Mayo Clinic guide is a good one to understand proper configuration, but higher chair with a foot-stool is not ideal.

In my office, I am the only one who is short enough to need a keyboard tray. I requested one from my company, and they installed it for me (it is one of the adjustable ones you bolt under the bottom of the desktop). I've been comfortable at work ever since. If you have a keyboard-centric job, it is reasonable to ask for this. I have had some pushback at other companies when asking for ergonomic equipment - I recommend doing a little research if they are reluctant, so you can come back and point out the potential dangers to your body long-term from a bad setup. It might also help, if they try the "now everyone will want this equipment" argument, to point out that no one else actually needs it, so they don't need to worry about everyone asking. I had to do this when asking for an ergonomic mouse after everyone in the office had seen me wearing a wrist brace, and pointed out that the potential loss of the use of my hand was much worse than the price of an expensive mouse.

Footrests are also an option, but having tried this with other employers, they do not work as well as a properly configured workstation with an adjustable keyboard tray (and monitors lowered to the proper height). It's easy to kick them, move them around, stub your toe on them, etc. If your company absolutely refuses to help you though (which can happen) you might be able to bring in a box for your feet. Try to get one that is very wide so you can move your feet around a bit, since most foot rests are pretty narrow.

  • I was neither born under a rock nor lazy but I had never heard of a keyboard tray either, don't think your insults add much to the discussion. – Alan Dev Aug 5 at 16:32
  • Yes, but you didn't post a useless answer which you wrote without even googling what a keyboard tray is. For people who are short this is actually a pretty serious problem, and it's not at all uncommon. Fair enough, though - I edited. – Ella Aug 5 at 16:36
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I never had issues getting keyboard tray, keyboard and mouse when starting at the new company. It depends on the company: some of the places you just mention this to your manager and manager would work with whoever to get things to you. Some places you would need to have a doctor recommendation not for this. Some places have an ergonomics specialist to asses and deal with such issues (in one companies I've got a visit from such specialist and in addition to the keyboard tray I requested I got a stand up desk and better chair + dozen of suggestions on my posture, etc that really helped)

Keep in mind that at least in US it is your employer responsibility to provide you a safe workspace and any issues that might come out b/c of failure to due so could be viewed as a workplace injury.

If you really concerned about that you might want to discuss it with the HR person during your interview or when going over the details of your offer.

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I just wanted to add an answer in the likely event that your company doesn't believe this is a real problem, or believes it but is unwilling to do anything.

Your idea of using your keyboard on your lap is a good idea. I would recommend buying a plank or something you can keep on your lap that can hold both your keyboard and your mouse.

If you can't do that, or your facilities department doesn't allow it (it's common that they won't provide anything and won't allow you to bring in your own equipment either), just remember, never sacrifice ergonomics for productivity - so in this case, don't worry about wasting time switching the keyboard and mouse on and off your lap. It's unproductive, but that's the choice your company made. It's not your problem. If, on the other hand, you end up with a permanent injury, that will be your problem.

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