If you sit at a desk during the day and use a computer, you know the feeling: a sore neck or back from hunching over. Achy wrists from clattering away on a keyboard. Pain in your legs when you stand up for the first time in hours.
The good news is all of these ailments can be avoided. Better yet, by focusing on ergonomics—attempting to reduce strain, fatigue, and injuries by improving product design and work space arrangement—you can reduce and even reverse the problems you’ve inflicted over the years.
In the field of ergonomics, the end goal is simple: a comfortable, relaxed posture that can help us avoid the work-related injuries that the CDC estimates can cause employers and businesses billions of dollars each year. Achieving that can take many different forms. Below are a few strategies that we’ve compiled.
No matter how big or small your monitors are, ideal positioning is attained with the monitor at eye level. A couple of inches off in either direction can create neck pain. An easy way to test this is to sit back in your office chair and hold your right arm out—do your fingers point to the center of the screen? If not, change the height to accommodate a natural downward gaze. Other important components include screen distance (can you read text on it without hunching over?), screen glare, screen angle, screen alignment, and reading comfort.
The benefits of proper monitor use on your posture and your eyes has been scientifically researched and proven. Beyond that, there’s lots of room for further improvement. Deploying dual monitors can enhance productivity, enable more agile multitasking, and empower employees to work smarter, not harder. This is particularly true when it comes to working with large data sets, visual and creative arts, and other industries where speed and precision are paramount.
The ideal keyboard height is approximately two inches above the knees. But many desks aren’t built that way—and your wrists and fingers end up suffering. If your desk is too high, try a sliding keyboard tray that slopes downward, allowing you to keep your wrists in a vertically neutral position. Split ergonomic keyboards can also alleviate pain and discomfort. The rise of the wireless mouse has compounded such problems, with many modern office workers letting their device roam all over their desk. Ergonomic experts say your keyboard and your mouse should be reachable without leaning forward and should be used with level, straight hands, elbows comfortable tucked at your side, and shoulders relaxed.
We may not think much of our office chairs, but if we sit in them for eight hours a day, any minor tweak can have serious consequences on our bodies. The best office chairs have adjustable height settings and lumbar support that supports the upper and middle back. You should be able to sit comfortably with no compression of the thighs and your feet flat on the floor, and the seat should provide at least an inch of extra space around your hips and thighs. Standing desks are all the rage these days, but experts say the best option is a desk that can be used in sitting or standing positions, thereby motivating you to change positions throughout the day. Frequent movement is essential for good spinal health.
There may be no image more indicative of our modern age than crowds of people all hunched over the small screens of their smartphones. But when you tilt your head at such an angle, you increase the weight of your head (and the pressure on your neck) up to six times. Try adjusting your posture so you can hold your phone at or near eye level.
At the end of the day, every office worker should be free to work in relative comfort, with technology and furniture geared toward their bodies and their preferences. It’s worth the cost, too; scientific research has found that ergonomic investments can yield as high as a 10-to-1 return. And when employees can do their jobs safely, with a focus on efficiency and productivity, they’re far less likely to suffer injuries and take time off.
Want to know more about office ergonomics and how they can benefit your business? Curious about the benefits of dual monitors or other productivity boosters? Need more information about the tips outlined above? Contact Us today. We worry about IT so you don’t have to.