An average person spends almost one-third of his life at the office. When such a significant part of your life is dedicated to the workplace, one cannot undermine the importance of ergonomics.
Ergonomics is the study of designing equipment, devices and work essentials to increase body comfort and efficiency at work. It is an absolute necessity for a productive and healthy workforce.
Our guide about office ergonomics will help you understand simple things to create a healthy and comfortable ergonomic office setup.
1. Proper Monitor Adjustment
Most of us spend at least 8 hours staring at the computer screen, so getting this right goes a long way towards better office health.
Position your monitor directly in front of you so that you don’t have to tilt your chin or bend your neck to look at it. The top of the monitor should be around eye level.
We often tell children not to sit too close to the TV screens. The prime logic behind this is to prevent eye strain which is caused by the muscular effort needed to focus on objects at a closer distance. By the same token, looking at things that are too far away also requires straining your eye muscles to properly make out.
Viewing distance is the space between your monitor and eyes. An inappropriate gap between your screen and eyes contributes to eyestrain. A good rule of thumb is to place the monitor at around arm’s length away from you.
2. Observe Good Sitting Posture
A recent research article from the International Journal of Physiotherapy and Research revealed two alarming cause and effect facts:
- Between 66% to 90% of the world population suffers from a forward head position, commonly known as “scholar’s neck” or “hunchback”.
- For as little as one inch the head moves forward, the neck has to support an additional ten pounds of weight.
The forward head position is common after sitting down for prolonged periods of time. Not only does it make you look unattractive, but the extra weight added to your neck can cause lingering pain and drain your energy.
To prevent unnecessary health issues and improve your wellbeing in the office, put into practice some ergonomic principles when standing or sitting. If your job involves you sitting for long periods of time, implement the following simple workplace habits for good sitting posture:
- Keep your feet flat on the ground. Do not cross your legs or ankles.
- Make sure your hand is supported by an ergonomic mouse pad (like this) to avoid repetitive strain that can arise from overuse.
- Pull your shoulders back and forearms parallel to the floor.
- If working on a computer, keep the monitor at eye level and at arms-length away from your eyes.
- Keep your knees aligned with the hips to form a right angle.
The type of chair you sit in also plays a crucial role in promoting good ergonomics. See this checklist for what constitutes a good ergonomic chair.
3. Use an Ergonomic Keyboard and Mouse
Using a standard keyboard and mouse for extended periods of time can lead to pain and injury. Their design puts your upper body in an unnatural position that can lead to a repetitive strain injury, also known as RSI.
A research study published by Microsoft Corporation found that ergonomically-designed keyboards and mice have been shown to reduce and prevent computer-related pain and fatigue. Other main advantages of these ergonomic input devices include:
- The improved posture that allows the arm to stay in a natural position.
- Minimized risk of strain or injury on fingers, wrists, and hands.
- Improved productivity by keeping your wrists relaxed and fingers comfortable.
4. Use a Laptop Stand with your Laptop
Another ergonomic device that helps turn the office space into a healthy, comfortable environment is the laptop stand.
The laptop stand helps raise the screen to your natural eye level and prevents the head forward position. On top of this, a proper laptop stand lets you adjust the angle of the screen which reduces glare and eye strain.
Since the laptop’s keyboard cannot be separated from its screen, you will need to use an external keyboard. Better yet, pair a laptop stand with an ergonomic keyboard and mouse.to improve your office space as much as possible.
5. Stand Up and take Frequent Breaks!
A study by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast published in the Journal of Epidemiology And Community Health earlier this year shows that 70,000 deaths per year in the UK are linked to prolonged sitting.
The human body is designed to move but our modern society makes us sit. According to the American Heart Association, there are two worrisome trends:
- Sedentary jobs have increased by 83% since the 1950s;
- Employees in office jobs spend 89% of their time sitting.
Sitting down for long periods of time, even in a correct ergonomic posture, increases the risks for:
- Heart disease
- Weight gain
It is important to know that these risks increase regardless of whether you follow a regular exercise routine. The effects of prolonged sitting cancel out most of the benefits from a healthy exercise plan.
If your job requires you to sit at a desk all day, make sure to incorporate office ergonomics into your work routine. These are small adjustments that make a huge difference. They reduce health risks linked to prolonged sitting, as well as increase your comfort level and productivity.
Stand up – it’s just that simple, get up from your desk. You should stand up for any tasks you can’t do comfortably from a sitting position, such as reaching for a stapler. Move and stretch – go for a short walk and do some simple stretching exercises to improve blood flow to body areas that are stagnant when sitting. Repeat – it is important to get up and move around frequently to maximize the benefits. Ideally, for every hour you are sitting, you should take a small break to stand up and move around.
6. Proper Lighting and Temperature
Proper environment setting contributes subtly but greatly to comfortable working experience. The included factors in this category are temperature, light, humidity and other conveniences too.
Firstly, make sure to position your laptop or desktop monitor away from sunlight to prevent glare. Use an anti-glare filter if needed.
In terms of artificial lighting, experts generally agree that LED lights are superior to fluorescent or incandescent lights. Not only are they more energy-efficient, but they better mimic the temperature of natural lighting, keeping you alert and productive for longer.
Finally, the temperature is also vital for sustained comfort. The OSHA says the ideal workplace temperature is in the range of 68-76 F.
7. Workplace environment
Well, these things are not directly related to your workstation but if you can give some thought to them, they can help you build a healthier and more productive working environment:
- Cafeteria: It is the liveliest place in every office. Therefore, it must be well furnished and well managed so that employees feel refreshed and re-energized when they go there. Here are a few ideas to upgrade your office cafeteria.
- Wall colors: The right color can help you relax and stimulate your mind. Blue is often used in offices to keep the employees focused and consequently increase their output.
- Plants: Indoor plants give a soothing effect to eyes and reduce mental stress levels. They also make your workplace look more pleasant.
8. Use a headset instead of holding the phone
If you tend to make a lot of phone calls at work, buy a Bluetooth headset and pair it up with your phone.
The use of headsets in office will reduce the rate of unnecessary fatigue and back pain. You will be saved from cradling the phone on your shoulders plus you will feel less stressed and more active at the end of your workday. Some other benefits of using headsets include:
- Headsets will free up both your hands so that you can work on a computer, manage your table and also take notes, thus making you more productive.
- If you use noise-canceling headsets, you will avoid almost 70 percent of the unwanted background sounds and will be able to listen to the call much better.
9. Protect Your Eyes
You may have heard the buzz about blue light and its impact on your eyes. As a generation that is constantly looking at screens from our smartphones to our laptops, it is key to reduce the amount of digital strain that we are putting on our eyes. Blue light, which is emitted in several forms, penetrates to our retinas and can damage light-sensitive cells in our eyes. Scientists have attributed blue light to macular degeneration, which over time could lead to permanent vision loss. It also can impact your circadian rhythm and affect your sleep at night!
To keep your eyes on the up and up, it’s important to keep them protected, especially if your work environment requires a lot of screens. Research has shown that it’s important to increase your visual contrast when working in front of a computer in order to help reduce digital strain; computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses can help increase comfort when viewing screens for a long period of time.
Some blue light computer glasses aren’t the most stylish to wear, but don’t fret! We had the opportunity to test out the peach-colored “Celeste” tortoise pair of sunglasses created by Eagle Eyes, a company that leverages NASA-level technology in their optical wear. The Celeste sunglasses are stylish, smudge-proof, waterproof and scratch-resistant, masking them the perfect durable pair of blue light glasses for your home office. The yellow color of the frames did take some getting used to, but wearing the glasses made us feel confident that we were putting our health first in a way that could still help us get our digital work done! If you are interested in securing blue light glasses, we highly recommend you check out the women’s frames that Eagle Eyes offers.
The main purpose of office ergonomics is to save you from extraneous stress at work. Review your workplace and look for all the improvements which can be done. You may also be able to learn more about office ergonomics from the human resource department of your company.