For most of us, our office workspace is what it is. You deal with the desk, chair, office layout/cubicle space and computer workstation that you were given. However, even those of us not allowed to choose our own chairs and desks can reconstruct our office space to enhance ergonomics. If you’re not familiar with the concept, ergonomics is the science of applied design to protect the human body, prevent strain and stress on joints and muscles, while maximizing productivity. The CDC highlights numerous serious health disorders stemming from poor workplace ergonomics, but you can take matters into your own hands and reconstruct that space to protect yourself.
These days, most of us spend the majority of our time on the computer while at work. This means that your computer system’s setup and layout are of paramount importance in terms of ergonomics. You need to be most concerned with two elements here:
The computer monitor should be at or just below eye level, and it should be angled so that you can see the screen clearly despite the glare of those ubiquitous fluorescents overhead. If you have to squint, hunch, tilt your head or otherwise adjust your body to see the screen clearly, it’s not set up correctly.
The primary means of interaction between humans and computers is through the keyboard and mouse. Make sure that the keyboard is at or just below the level of your arms when in a seated position. Have a wrist rest in front of the keyboard to support your wrists. The mouse should be located on the same level as the keyboard and usable without any unnecessary twisting or readjusting of your body.
You might not think a footrest is an appropriate piece of office furniture, but it is. Adding a footrest under your desk can help decrease stress and strain on your legs, knees and hips, and it can also help enhance blood flow. Not all workplaces will happily let you add a footrest to your office, but it should be considered to help protect you.
All of your frequently used items should be kept within easy reach of your office chair. Ideally, you’ll have a document holder next to your monitor, so you can reach it while keeping your elbows near your sides. This also applies to your phone. As a note, if you spend a considerable amount of time on the phone during the day, consider investing in a good headset, rather than using the uncomfortable handset. This will prevent you from trying to type and talk or listen at the same time while crunching your head to your shoulder (to hold the handset in place). A headset can make an enormous difference in your comfort and alleviate phone call-related neck, shoulder and back pain.
Follow these tips and reconstruct your office workspace for better comfort and ergonomics. Your body will thank you.
When purchasing any kind of computer, most people would generally only be concerned about having a monitor and some sort of stand for their monitor. As long as you have the computer, monitor, and stand you should be good to go, right? What people sometimes do not even think to consider is that a monitor arm can be extremely beneficial to add to your new or existing computer setup. Many might speculate how much added advantage there is in purchasing a computer monitor arm which is why we can take a look at some of the benefits to help you decide if it is worth the investment.
Perhaps the most vital reason to have a computer monitor arm is the importance of working in an ergonomic environment. By working in an ergonomic environment every piece of equipment used, whether it be your office chair or in this case the monitor which you use, is tailored to be adjustable to fit the unique individual’s body. Monitor arms are specifically designed to easily adjust the height of your computer screen and can be brought closer or farther away from your face to find the optimum reading position. A good rule of thumb to correctly position your monitor is to make sure that the top of the viewable area of your display should be approximately at eye level, or in a position that is comfortable for you and does not cause you to strain your eyes in order to read what is on the screen. Ergonomic experts say that an arms length away is a good indication to a correct viewing distance, but this may vary from user to user. This type of movement and flexibility is impossible to achieve without the use of a monitor arm.
Another added benefit of monitor arms, is that they can be used by virtually anyone with any kind of computer. First and foremost, those with a desktop computer will always need to have purchased a monitor to begin with. But even lap
top users, like myself, can benefit from a monitor arm as well. A few months ago I found myself straining my eyes to read the tiny print on my 13” laptop monitor and knew I needed to find a solution before I compromised my vision. With the purchase of a large monitor and a monitor arm, I could easily attach the monitor through a port in my computer to make viewing text much less strenuous on my eyes. Increasingly workstations are shared between more than one user, especially for jobs that stay open all day with multiple shifts. If you share your station at work with another colleague, with a few simple movements the monitor can be easily adjusted to the height and depth suitable for that individual
Monitor arms are especially advantageous when trying to make room or save space on a desk. Most stands provided by manufacturers consume a lot of room on a desk, whereas an ergonomically designed monitor arm will typically clamp to the back of a desk or be attached directly to a slat-wall leaving the desk space completely clear. An office space or work place will look much less cluttered, more stylish, and more organized with the addition of a computer monitor arm. Some even come in stylish designer colors, such as white and silver, to further enhance the modern design.
In the long run, the monitor arm will not only add style and design to any work space, but it may also reduce work related injuries such as repetitive strain injury and chronic back pain if used ergonomically correct. Monitor arms are also built to withstand the test of time; generally if monitor arms are used 5 days a week for 8 hours a day you can expect it to last at the very least 5 years. While the move to a monitor arm may seem like a risk, the benefits vastly outweigh any disadvantages.
Ergonomic seating is becoming more prominent than ever before and more people are searching around forchairs that are going to contour to their body type. It is essential to find a chair that is going to fit you properly in order to sit ergonomically correct. Sitting in a chair which is too large for you can cause posture problems, pain, or discomfort, so choosing a chair with the right dimensions is important whether you are of average build or bigger and taller than the average.
Most ergonomic chairs are built to adjust to a typical body height and weight, but what about those of us that are smaller than the average user? Some indications that a chair is too tall are that it prevents the user’s feet from resting flat on the ground, arms of the chair are too high, has a lumbar support or headrest that does not sit in the right position, or the seat is too deep. I myself, am 5’2” and always have a difficult time finding things that will fit me properly whether it be jeans or even office chairs. I’ve come to find the solution to this problem is simple- a petite office chair.
A petite chair is an ergonomic chair that is specifically designed to meet the needs of people under 5’4” and weighing less than 300 pounds. Petite chairs come fully equipped with a seat depth up to 18”, a smaller back size, and have a good amount of ergonomic adjustments to ensure proper comfort, no matter your stature. Petite users will be able to sit ergonomically correct and have adjustments tailored to smaller users with an adequate seat depth.
Unfortunately for those of us with smaller stature most petite office chairs are not readily available at a typical office furniture store or computer supply store. Most need to be specially ordered, and can easily be done so by ordering online through an office chair retailer.
Do you ever find yourself working for hours on end sitting in an office chair without getting up to take a break? This is not uncommon, in fact most people either do not know or forget to take breaks when working long hours sitting in one position. Whether you work full time or part-time from home or in a traditional workplace setting, it is still important to take breaks. Taking breaks while working long hours is essential and crucial to your health.
Employers may need to think about the environment in which their work takes place in order to develop an adequate plan for allowing time for breaks. For jobs which are full time, two shorter breaks is often adequate. People who work behind a computer all day should take a break every hour or so and be able to get up and move round. This enables them from being in a seated posture all day staring at the screen. People who work in highly repetitive jobs should be offered more frequent shorter breaks in order to prevent boredom which can result in a decrease in productivity, a decrease in proficiency, and less mistakes. There are many reasons why regular breaks are important; here are just a few.
1. Circulation is impaired by prolonged sitting: When you sit in static postures where you are not moving, circulation can be impeded. When blood flow to an active muscle is impaired, the oxygen supply is diminished, which over time can impair muscle function. The feeling of fatigue often is related to circulation and blood supply.
2 Working on the computer distorts the awareness of time: When working for long hours on the computer most people do not take breaks frequently enough, nor do they realize how much time has passed since they began working. An easy way to eliminate this problem is to make sure people take regular breaks by using time reminders.
3. Burnout: People who work continually face complete burnout and what good is a burnt out employee? Physical exhaustion can lead to problems such as chronic headaches, fatigue, inability to concentrate, and trouble sleeping at night. Even if all you take is 15 minutes during an 8 hour work day, you can use that time to refresh yourself and feel more energized the rest of the work day.
4 Productivity: Many studies have revealed that workers who take breaks are dramatically more productive during the day as opposed to those who do not. After a break, your performance levels increase dramatically so that you can tackle tasks again with renewed vigor and finish them accurately. Mistakes are also made more when you do not refresh your mind and body.
5. Heart Risks: After researchers in Finland conducted a study on a group of nearly 800 workers over the span of 28 years, they found that subjects who failed to find time to recover from their workweek were more likely to eventually die of cardiovascular disease. If people are not able to relax periodically, plaques can build up in their arteries which contribute to potential heart attacks and or strokes.
6. Stress: Focusing on a tedious task for too long can easily lead to physical and mental stress. Stress as most know, can lead to serious implications for our health. Common consequences of stress include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, poor fitness, low resistance to viruses, and serious illnesses. If something that is being worked on becomes too stressful, it is best to take a break from it and resume the work once calm and collected.
7. Repetitive Stress Injuries: Especially for those that sit at a desk all day staring at a computer, it is easy to develop repetitive stress injuries such as eyestrain from staring at a computer screen too long. Carpal Tunnel is also another injury which can develop from spending too much time typing and not typing in the proper position. Sitting in an office chair too long generally leads to wanting to fidget and move posture, most of the time into improper posture. By not sitting correctly and having adequate lumbar support, back and neck pain is sure to develop.
When starting your new routine of taking breaks, start small with 5 minute breaks and work your way up in about a week or two. Taking breaks at work cannot be considered being lazy, especially when you take short meaningful ones. There is no harm in trying, but there is harm in not trying.
Do you ever find yourself wondering how you could improve the space you work in at home? We found ourselves wondering the same and decided to do some research to find out how to make your home office healthier. After all you are going to be spending a lot of your day there so it is important to set up a design that works for you. There is nothing worse than working in an office you hate, especially when you are in the comfort of your own home. We have compiled some tips and tricks to make working at home or even just sitting in your home office space better. They worked for us; hopefully they will work for you too!
The first most important thing we learned is not to forget about making your office as ergonomic as possible in order to avoid a variety of health issues including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Repetitive Stress Syndrome, eye strain, and headaches. Ergonomics defined according to Wikipedia is a science concerned with the ‘fit’ between people and their work. It seeks to ensure that tasks, equipment, information, and the environment suit each worker. People use their computers a large majority of the day making it important to use your computer ergonomically. Many experts recommend that the monitor is at least 20 inches away and that the top line of your screen is at or below your eye level. The monitor should be centered in front of the user and positioned to minimize glare. You may also need to adjust the angle of the screen, which can be easily accomplished with a computer monitor arm.
Perhaps the most important piece of equipment everyone should have is an ergonomic chair. After all most people spend a great majority of the day sitting in a chair whether they are at home or at work. The chair height must be adjustable. The user should be able to sit comfortably with their feet resting flat on the floor or on a footrest. The backrest should conform to the natural curvature of the user’s spine and provide adequate lumbar support. In addition, a good chair offers the appropriate seat width and depth to support each user’s unique body shape and size. Armrests should be padded and adjustable so the user can rest their arms comfortably, close to their body, with their shoulders relaxed. A chair on wheels/casters, that swivels and allows easy movement on the floor is also recommended.
Having good posture when you are sitting in your office chair is also essential and what many people don’t know is there is actually a correct way to sit in a chair. Far too many people sit incorrectly, by either slumping forward or slumping backward in their chair during the day, which can cause back pain. Feet are supposed to be flat on the floor and elbows should be at a right angle when typing. Keep wrists straight when typing, relax your shoulders, and keep your back in contact with lumbar support of your chair. Make sure to avoid leaning forward or backwards; keep your head and neck straight in order to prevent straining them.
Although it may cost a little extra to have ergonomic office supplies and equipment, but in the long run it is well worth the investment. It will save you from major health concerns and making your home office environment exceedingly more pleasant to work in. Position yourself and your equipment correctly to ensure a quality-working environment. Healthy working to you!
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