What are ergonomic accessories, and how do we assess their value in an era when the "hot" term in the office is ergonomics? Everyone wants a piece of them, and everyone wants to charge a lot for them, but before you dive headfirst into "ergonomicafying" your office, let's get a deeper understanding of what will and what can work for your work environment.
Ergonomic accessories can be classified into 3 general categories: Monitor Arms, Keyboard Trays, and Footrests. Some mice are included in this conversation, but only a few. Anything else is really an office accessory, including CPU holders, glare filters and task lights. While not disputing the fact that these office accessories are valuable, they are not focused at providing the same benefits to one's body at work like the aforementioned 3 ergonomic categories.
Monitor arms became increasingly popular with the decrease in price of flat screen monitors - at first a tool for the hip, now a tool for comfort. Not only do they allow for more desk tabletop space by freeing up valuable real estate, but the true ergonomic benefit comes in the ability to position the monitor at the right height for the computer's user. Ideally, the top of the monitor should be level to users line of sight - this dissuades slouching or leaning to read the screen. If you use two monitors, a dual monitor arm may be employed, and the second monitor should be aligned an arms length in front of you and to the right of the main monitor. If you have a laptop, you can still use a monitor arm - you'll just need a monitor. By using a laptop tray, you can use your laptop monitor effectively without using a monitor arm.
What does "not slouching" do? Basically, your mother was right. (Funny how we always hear that as we grow older). The monitor arm prevents slouching, which means you are going to be in the optimal sitting position most of your work hours. Your back is going to be where it should be - leaning against the backrest. Why is leaning against the backrest good, aside from feeling good? Let's look at the shape of the chair to the shape of your spine. Notice the S shape of your spine and how it rests against the S shaped backrest? Most ergonomic chairs will have such a shaped backrest, so leaning all the way back allows your back to appropriately meet the backrest.
Keyboard trays also encourage proper ergonomics by keeping your arms at an even level. This posture of your arms will reduce the strain on the wrists that is commonly associated with constant and repetitive typing. Keyboard Trays are becoming more popular and are usually a more commonly bought accessory - installation requires only a few screws and the benefits are immediate. There are many different types of keyboard trays - they all pretty much function the sames so quality is where the price differences arise.
So getting a keyboard tray is effective in relieving wrist related stress while typing, but like the monitor arm, it has a practical use as well - it frees up valuable desk space. While the paperless office has been attempted, lets face it, paper will always be around. Might as well have more room to spread your clutter!
You may be one of the many people that employ a laptop. As I write this from a laptop, I can tell you that having a laptop is no excuse to eschew ergonomics. There are utilities available to take advantage of a keyboard tray and monitor arm with a laptop, such as this nifty Laptop Docking Station (which is the one I use, by the way):
Lastly, the ergonomic footrests. What is the benefit of that? None if you don't use it right. (Like anything). An ergonomic footrests is generally made for two purposes - one, to give users a place to rest their feet on high chairs or seating areas or two, as an accessory to encourage movement of the feet while sitting. This constant motion won't burn many calories, but it will promote bloodflow, which in turn reduces fatigue. And that's always nice. They even have some with massage balls - so you can get a nice massage in the workplace, provided your feet don't, well, smell.
The idea behind ergonomic accessories is to add overall comfort to the user's workplace atmosphere, and that is a goal that is not to be overlooked nor understated. The modern work lifestyle has evolved to the point where these items are not a luxury anymore- with people spending more and more time on a computer and on the Internet these days, being comfortable for a prolonged period of time is critical to overall well being.
Just think of how many hours a day you'd spend working in front of your computer, slouching forward and trying to make sense of the small text on the screen. (Make the font bigger, if you keep squinting!) A good monitor arm/keyboard tray/footrest combo will quickly and, if chosen right, inexpensively make your or your employees work days more efficient and better over the long run. All of the accessories sold at Sitbetter are quality items - nothing that will fail within a week or even a year, and if it does, it is a good thing you bought it here, because we have your back. It's ok to drink our ergonomic kool-aid - we do.