The more thorough you are when planning your computer work-station, the more you will enjoy using it, space planners say.

But where do you start?

Here are some tips from space planner Joe Vaccaro at Creative Office Furnishings in Olympia:

1. Measure the space where you plan to locate your computer workstation. Make a rough drawing of the dimensions, including the location of windows, any other furniture you’re designing around or any closets. Make sure you’ve noted where any outlets or phone jacks are.

“Sometimes windows play into the design because of glare,” Vaccaro explains. “You also want to maximize your wall space.”

2. Decide whether your needs can be met with standardized pieces or you’ll need a custom design. It might be cheaper to find your furniture at a place that sells standardized furniture, but some people want a workspace that’s custom designed, from the height of the desk to the features it contains.

“I sold a lady in Tumwater a computer/sewing desk,” Vaccaro says. “The return portion of the desk was eight feet long and housed a sewing machine.”

3. Go for ergonomics when you can. If you’ll be working long hours at your workstation, you want it set up so it’s comfortable for you, Vaccaro says. A proper height for a desktop is usually around 30 inches, but you can order a customized height adjusted to your specifications .

First, make sure the monitor is at your eye level. (Looking up to see the monitor can cause unnecessary neck strain, Vaccaro says.)

You can also purchase various types of screens that hook over the front of your monitor to make viewing more comfortable. These range from anti-glare screens, screens that filter out potentially harmful radiation and privacy screens. These screens can run anywhere from $30 to a couple of hundred dollars each, he says.

Document holders that can be placed either on the right or left side of a monitor also are handy additions to a workstation, Vaccaro suggests.
rgonomic chairs have adjustable seat backs and, of course, seat heights, Vaccaro says. They may also have armrests that are adjustable. Depending on how many features they carry and materials, such chairs can run anywhere from $250 to $500.

Ideally, your feet should be flat on the floor when you work at your computer. If you need to sit up higher in order to be at the right height for your desk or computer, Vaccaro advises, opt for a footrest.

Monitor lifts also are available and can adjust the height of your computer. They run anywhere from $20 to $300, depending on how heavy-duty they are, Vaccaro says.

4. Think of conveniences.

For instance, do you want a keyboard tray that would make it easier to use your desk top when you aren’t using your computer?

Vaccaro recommends central processor unit towers that go on the floor or can be tucked away with specially constructed furniture in order to save space.

“We have pieces with a keyboard tray that can be pulled out and raises up or down, with a negative or positive degree tilt,” Vaccaro says. “Or you can have the mouse on the same surface as the keyboard itself, if you’re limited in space.”

Consider a pad to go over the carpet, as well. Make sure you get one thick enough for your needs, Vaccaro counsels, or your chair will get stuck in one place.

5. More space gives you more options. That’s why many people like U-shaped desk sets—but such units tend to be designed for larger spaces. If your space is limited, Vaccaro says, consider a corner unit, which seems like it takes up less space.

Here’s another space-saving trick, Vaccaro says: If you want to really push your desk against the wall but can’t because of the few inches the surge protector cord takes up, consider getting one with a flat cord. Those special cords will allow you to set your desk closer to the wall.

By Kamilla K. McClelland, Business Examiner staff