All you need to know about monitor risers

What is a monitor riser?

Why do you need a monitor riser, many people ask, when your computer already comes with its own monitor stand? A fair question.

People often assume that when you buy a computer it comes with everything you need. And in a very limited sense they’re right: you get a computer, you get a monitor, and with the monitor comes an integrated monitor stand. But there is a major problem with that integrated monitor stand: it positions your screen too low for an ergonomically healthy posture (see below). But this problem can easily be solved by using a monitor riser.

How a high-quality monitor riser helps you avoid aches, pains, stress and worse.

A monitor riser raises the top of your monitor screen to eye level, the optimal ergonomic position (see also below: Getting the best out of your monitor riser). But why is this so important?

  1. The monitor stand that came with your computer is an ergonomic disaster:
    If your monitor screen is at an inappropriate height (usually too low), you have to strain your neck and assume a bad posture to view it. Unfortunately, the manufacturer of your computer has little choice but to design their monitor stand so your screen is at a height where it’s visible to every user. In practice, this means visible to the shortest potential user.

  2. You want to avoid workplace injuries or chronic conditions:
    In practice, by being at the right height for the shortest potential user, this means your monitor screen is set too low for everybody else. As a result, 99% of people using only their delivered monitor stand without a monitor riser spend all day hunched towards their screen, with their spine out of natural alignment, and putting unnatural strain on their eyes and various other parts of their body. Quickly leading to all sorts of aches and pains for nearly every user; and for a sizable number, much more serious complaints, that may even include chronic conditions that could jeopardise your career.

  3. A monitor riser can help you combat workplace stress:
    A well-designed monitor riser lets you neatly store away your keyboard and, where applicable, laptop under your monitor. This creates space and a feeling of order. Which many ergonomic experts believe is more than just a nice little bonus.

    Most of us are familiar with physical ergonomics: ensuring your physical environment is more conducive to healthy working through the use of ergonomic products such as ergonomically efficient desks, chairs, keyboards, mice, etc. But in addition, the relatively young fields of Organisational Ergonomics and Cognitive Ergonomics are increasingly being seen as important areas by employment and health & safety experts alike.

    Cognitive Ergonomics concerns issues such as work stress and mental well-being at work. Healthy work pressure can help motivate us to perform well at work, value good results and enjoy our achievements. But negative work stress does the opposite, making us feel overwhelmed, unable to enjoy successes and fearful of failure. It is something that we take outside the workplace and can negatively affect everything from eating habits to sleep.

    Such work stress is often accumulative, being made up of lots of small negative daily experiences and situations. And increasingly, research suggests that an unrestful work environment is one such ‘small’ but continuous factor that has a negative impact on our mood, nibbling away at our sense of well-being at work.

    So alongside things like plants and art in the workplace, these experts emphasise the positive effect of, for example, a tidy desk. A monitor riser, which is at the heart of your workspace and permanently in your eyeline, can play its part in creating that restful, anti-stress environment.

Getting the best out of your monitor riser

A monitor riser will help you sit in an ergonomically-efficient way — so long as you use it properly. A few tips on how to ensure your monitor is correctly positioned:
  • The top of the monitor screen should be at your eye level.
  • The monitor screen should be at about arm’s length.
  • Try viewing the screen without thinking about your posture, then check how you’re sitting:
    • Are you sitting up straight?
    • Is your neck in a natural, relaxed, neutral position?
    • Can you see the screen perfectly without having to look up or down?

    If the answer to these 3 questions is yes, then your monitor riser has positioned your monitor correctly and you’re good to go!

What to look for in a good monitor riser

There are essentially two types of monitor riser: adjustable and fixed-height. Here are the key factors to think about before deciding which one is right for you:

  • Adjustable…?
    As the name tells you, with an adjustable monitor riser you can adjust the platform on which your monitor stands to different heights. This has obvious advantages:
    • You can set it exactly the right height for you.
    • If your monitor has multiple users, the stand can be reset each time to each user’s ideal height.
  • …or fixed-height?
    You’d be forgiven for assuming an adjustable monitor riser is preferable to a fixed-height one. But a fixed-height monitor riser also has its advantages:
    • Fixed-height monitor risers can often take a greater maximum weight than adjustable monitor risers. Especially if you have an older monitor, this can be useful.
    • There’s also the budgetary aspect: fixed-height monitor risers are often cheaper.
    • Does it need adjusting? High-quality manufacturers will always tell you the exact height of the stand. If this happens to be the right height for you, and you’re going to be the only user, do you necessarily need an adjustable monitor riser?

  • Weight of your (future) monitor:
    your monitor riser must be able to support the weight not just of your current monitor but your next one, too, which may well be heavier (the current trend is toward larger and larger monitor screens). High-quality manufacturers always prominently display the maximum weight their monitor riser can support.

  • Durability:
    Your monitor riser should be made of a tough material. The manufacturer should tell you what that material is and, for example, its thickness. A good quality monitor riser can withstand the occasional knock or an office move. A flimsy monitor riser may be cheaper in the short-term but won’t last as long and is therefore a false economy – don’t be fooled.

Monitor riser, monitor stand or monitor arm?

Sometimes the nature of your monitor means that only a monitor riser will do. But in most cases, besides a monitor riser, there are two other ways to upgrade from the basic monitor stand you got with your computer: a monitor arm or a monitor stand.

Which is your best option depends on your work situation and budget. Alongside a range of great monitor risers, at Dataflex we also have a top-quality monitor stand and wide range of versatile monitor arms.

A quick browse of the types of monitor-related products that are available will help decide which features are must-haves, nice-to-haves and less important for you.