Ergo On The Cheap


While everyone wants to be ergo savvy and avoid aches and pains while working, not everyone has a big budget to work with.  Over the years, PBE  has had the luxury of working with companies with big budgets, as well as companies whose motto was: “improvise!”

Here are some great ideas to make clever and effective make-shift ergonomic changes.   And while you will ultimately determine how effective they are, one thing is for certain, you can begin to feel better without hurting your wallet!

Chair: It is pretty obvious that your chair is a core part of your work set up.  And if you don’t have it in the budget to go out and buy a new chair try implementing  the following ideas to make your chair as comfortable as possible!

  • Back Support: If your chair isn’t giving you the support you need, you can try putting a small pillow or rolled up towel in at the small of your back to support your lumbar area.  If it’s your upper back that needs support, try folding a towel in half or in thirds and drape it the long way over your chair to provide support along your spine.      Some of our favorite items include: Fellowes Professional Series Back RestKensington Memory Foam Back Rest and Inflatable Back Pillows!.
  • Seat Pan: if you are on the petite side and your seat pan feels too big for you, (the seat will come right up to the  back  of your knees), a back rest will not only help to support your spine, but also shorten your seat pan.
  • Chair Height: Is your chair at it’s maximum height, but you still need to sit a bit higher?  No problem!  Try using a small pillow, or towel folded in half, thirds or quarters to raise you up.  If you can afford it, try a memory foam seat cushion.  You’ll raise your seat height while maintaining or even improving your comfort. One of our favorite  items is the  Kensinton’s Memory Foam Seat Cushion. 
  • Foot Rests: Foot rests are ideal if your feet don’t reach the floor or if you are seeking relief in your lower back.   You can try using a ream of paper (or two), a book, a small box, block of wood or anything else that can serve as a solid platform. We love the Fellowes Adjustable Footrest.

Monitor Risers:  Placement of your monitor is vital for you to sit or stand comfortably throughout the day.  Remember, your neck and head (and therefore back) follow the eyes.

  • Adjustable Monitor Stands: Before you go out hunting for ways to raise your monitor, check your monitor stand.  Often there is a little button on the back that is easy to miss.  Press the button in firmly and lift and lower monitor accordingly.
  • Monitor Height: If you need your monitor to be higher, a ream (or two) of paper is ideal.  Other quick fixes include placing your monitor on a big book or stable platform .  Our favorite monitor risers are Fellowes and VuRyte Monitor Risers

Keyboard & Mouse Placement:  Well placed keyboards and mice make all the difference in the world when it comes to working in comfort.  The ideal set up is to have your upper arms hanging straight (think elbow under shoulder), elbows bent at approximately 90 degrees or more open than 90 degrees and with your wrists in neutral.

  • Lowering Keyboard Height:  If your keyboard is too high (keyboard above elbows), then you have a few options.  1) Raise your chair, 2) Lower your desk if it’s adjustable, 3) Use a lapdesk that is made from sturdy cardboard or styrofoam, or purchased out right.  Commercially made lap desks are fairly inexpensive. 4) Buy a used keyboard tray.   Check out the Kensington Xbrand Laptop Lapdesk
  • Raising Keyboard Height: If your keyboard is too low (keyboard below elbows), then you have a few options.  1)Lower our chair, 2) Raise your desk if it’s adjustable, 3) Place your keyboard and mouse on a platform to elevate the surface it sits on.

Laptop Risers It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that when the keyboard portion of a laptop is at a comfortable typing height, the monitor will be way too low.  Conversely, if the monitor is elevated and comfortable for viewing, the keyboard will be placed too hight type without strain.

  • Plug Ins:  If you already have a monitor, keyboard and mouse, plug them into your laptop and type in a traditional desk top set up.   If you want to use your laptop as your primary or secondary monitor, then just plug in your keyboard and mouse.
  • Elevating Monitors: This is easy to do without spending a lot of money (if any at all!)  Simply place your laptop on a few reams of paper, sturdy books or stable platform or solid material like wood or plastic.  In turn, you’ll need to use an external keyboard and mouse.  Our two favorite risers are: Fellowes Booklift Copyholder and the Cricket Laptop Stand
  • Monitor Arms: If you can find one, you can always set yourself up with a used monitor arm.

Then of course, thing like stretching, taking breaks, sitting with healthy posture and typing and mousing are completely free!

What do you use to set yourself up in an easy and affordable way?  Please share by commenting below!




Andrew & Vivienne PBE Co-Founders.





  • Nancy
    Posted at 05:25h, 11 December Reply

    monitor riser can be obtained by placing a thick book underneath your screen … at least until you’re sure of the height that works for you!

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