I recently tried out the Herman Miller Envelop desk which has a semi-circle cut out which they call the "body pocket". This allows you to pull up close to your keyboard and the desk "envelops" you. It gives excellent forearm support and allows you to keep good posture while having all of the workspace available to you without moving too much. It also makes reclining in the chair and still working quite easy. It tends to prevent you from crouching over forwards to type on the keyboard. The Herman Miller version has many other bells and whistles but it is the "body pocket" idea that I like.
My question is, do others have experience with something like this? The Envelop would not work in my office, but altering my desktop workspace to create my own "body pocket" likely would. Have others had success with something like a "body pocket"? Any comments, pluses, or minuses would be appreciated. Thanks.
The Herman Miller version can be found here:
I had a chance to look at this desk at the National Ergonomics Conference last week. I saw two models, a fixed hight version (I assume it was fixed height anyway), and an adjustable sit-to-stand version.
Some years ago I put together a very similar workstation using a pocket style "slant board", and I have to say it was one of the most comfortable workstations I have ever experienced for computer tasks. This type of design may not be for everyone, but it can be, when well integrated with the rest of the tools, accessories and furniture in a work station system, a very comfortable and productive design. It is especially applicable for tasks and people who prefer a reclined seated posture (i.e., when a person sits all the way back against the backrest and tilts the chair back — into a semi-reclined postion). I wasn't able to test it for long at the conference, but the concept seemed sound, and my brief review left me thinking it was quite similar to the workstation I had loved in the past. Be aware, however, that to make this, or any other table for that matter, work for you, it must be integrated with your chair, task requirments, and other tools and equipment. The chair should effectively support a reclined posture, the work heights (e.g., worksurface height, monitor height, chair height) should be adjustable, or at least customizable to your body size, accessories easily accessible, etc. Effective ergonomic design requires a systems approach, meaning a chair alone, a table alone, or a keyboard, mouse, etc alone does not make an "ergonomnic workstation." All these things must be considered together. Each of these puzzle pieces can provide some improvement on their own, but they can just as easily result in more or new problems when not matched well with the rest of the workstation components and the required tasks.
Hope that helps,
Peter Budnick, PhD, CPE
Peter is right on target with his warning about integrating the various components of such a work setting. I had the opportunity to be involved with the folks from Herman Miller on the development of the Envelop work table. It's original concept was to be mated with the Embody chair – the two products were a system that supplemented and complemented the features of each element. In fact, rigth now I am sitting in my Embody chair with my keyboard, mouse and forearms on a prototype of the Envelop surface! Yes, I am slightly reclined.
The closest you might come to today is the Morency Board for a cut-out and forearm support. However, it is fixed via clamps to a worksurface, so it does not provide the consistent support in alternative postures.
BTW, the Envelop IS available in a fixed height and a sit-stand model. Obviously the "stand" feature and the recline of the surface and forearm supports don't work together.
Don Morelli CPE
(1) i tried a body pocket cut out on a wooden table top. it did not work for me. just after 10 minutes of use it hurt my elbow and ulnar nerve. the body pocket lets you put your whole forearm on the table which probably put a little more weight on the ulnar nerve even though i was not pressing down on the table top. in fact, i had a hand crank height adjustable base so i even lowered the height to reduce pressure but it still hurt my ulnar nerve. (2) the envelop desk does not have this problem because it has a soft urethane top rather than hardwood. however, i personally like the freedom to use armrests and table top (back and forth) for forearm support. with the envelop desk, you can only use the table top because the armrests will have to slide under for you to get close to the work surface. (3) if you want to try a body pocket cut out and are not a DIY fella, go to your local woodshop and ask them to use a router on the cheapest material possible (as a trial in case you don't like the cut out). maybe MDF for $50 + $50 for the router cut. or, if you want to be daring, you can order soft urethane board and ask for a router cut.
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