Bill Gates’ Office Set-up

Bill Gates is a very accomplished entrepreneur to say the least. He is an American business magnate, investor, author and philanthropist. You can say that his fortunes are tied to computers. With so much of his life invested in computers, programming and developing new software the assumption is that he has also mastered workplace ergonomics to ensure he can work as comfortably as possible. So, let’s take a look at if Mr. Gates uses optimal ergonomics in the set-up of his workstations.

Is Bill Gates Workstation Set-up Ergonomic?

In this series we look at the ergonomic set-up of ANY workstation. But the thing that we LOVE about this is that it’s entirely based on pictures. So, what we are going to today is identify the ergonomic risk in Mr. Bill Gates’ workstation and then offer a practical approach that would improve the ergonomics of his set-up. We shine a light on aspects of workstation design that might not normally get much attention!

Let’s Talk About That Famous Workstation!

You can see from the pictures below that Mr. Gates’ uses a 3 monitor workstation set-up, mouses with his right hand, and uses an executive type office chair. Here are the Ergonomic Risks associated with his set-up:

  1. Monitors are much too high for him and not tilted upwards. From the picture below you can see that Mr. Gates’ tends to sit slightly leaned forward/somewhat perched on his chair with his neck bent backwards (or extended). One reason that he uses this working position could be that he wears bifocals; it’s common for bifocal users to work with an extended neck posture to get a better viewing angle downwards. Because of this set-up I would assume that he has some neck and shoulder pain. As a side-effect of this working position I also usually observe that the person also uses  leaned forward or unsupported back postures or not using the backrest support of the chair. Sitting with unsupported back postures is associated with an increase in disc pressure and muscle activity. All in all that means that there is an increased ergonomic risk for back pain as well as long-term wear and tear. 
  2. Window directly behind workstation that can lead to disability glare and eyestrain. It’s always advised that monitors are not positioned directly in front of windows. If they are, like they are in Mr. Gates’ workstation, they can lead to a big difference in light contrasts and this can lead to disability glare, awkward postures to view the monitor, as well as eyestrain and eye fatigue. Ideally the ambient light environment should match the monitor brightness.

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Here’s We Can Do To Improve His Set-up.

Ergonomic solutions don’t need to be expensive to work. In fact, many of the best ergonomic solutions that I have ever seen come from simple adjustments to the workstation. With that in mind, let’s look at Mr. Gates’ workstation set-up again and offer suggestions that would improve its ergonomics.

  1. Monitor Height. This should be considered the main ergonomic risk for Mr. Gates’ workstation. The monitors are positioned much too high for Mr. Gates’ bifocal use and this results in neck extension. Neck extension is one of the main reasons why many complain of neck discomfort. Here’s what would likely lower the ergonomic risk of this workstation: lower the monitor height (likely as low as the top of the desk) and tilt the bottom of the monitors upwards towards Mr. Gates. By lowering and tilting the monitors upwards it changes the line of sight to allow Mr. Gates to use a neutral neck position (no upwards or downwards tilting) to view the monitor. Neutral postures are linked with less discomfort.
  2. Workstation Position. Currently, the 3 monitors are positioned directly in front of a window that can result in too much glare, brightness, and eyestrain. To improve the ergonomics of this set-up, the workstation should be re-positioned perpendicularly to the window. Another option that would give the same outcome would be to lower the blinds directly behind the monitors.

We hope that this review inspires you to take another look at your own workstation. If you need support we have many posts to help you. Additionally, our free e-book offers some simple and practical suggestions on how to set-up your workstation ergonomically.

Interested In More? Check out these past posts in this area

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Through the administration of countless assessments in both private and public sectors, Darcie has gained a wealth of knowledge and built a successful practice in the field of ergonomics. She has extensive expertise in conducting office ergonomics assessments in large scale workplaces for all different types of scenarios, from simple adjustments to incredibly complex cases. Darcie also has vast experience in delivering training presentations on the various aspects of ergonomics “best practices” in the workplace. Darcie is a Certified Professional Ergonomist through the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics, as recognized by the International Ergonomics Association. She also has a Masters of Science, specializing in ergonomics. A little known fact about Darcie is that she once scored from half, off a free kick, in a university varsity soccer (football) match!

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