More people than ever work remotely nowadays, thanks in part to the covid pandemic. Maybe you are one of them and wish you had ergonomic tips with you.
I wouldn’t blame you if you embraced this without thinking too much about workspace ergonomics. After all, the kitchen table and stool seemed to do the trick for many of us at first. Even the bed looked like the dream place to do Zoom calls and fill out spreadsheets.
Fast forward to a few weeks later, nearly everyone was calling or visiting a chiropractor to fix their back, neck, and shoulder pains. Even the American Chiropractic Association admits, in a report, that chiropractors’ recorded the highest number of patients with musculoskeletal issues after the pandemic. And guess what, the majority were work-from-home casualties.
In a nutshell, that’s what happens when your workspace isn’t ergonomic. The list of problems you could face is long, from body aches and pains to reduced productivity and musculoskeletal disorders.
This is your chance to make your workspace healthier, more comfortable, and super productive. Check out these tips!
Workplace Ergonomic Tips: The Dos
1 Sit Straight
This is easier said than done, but like all habits, it could take you anywhere between three weeks to one year to master it. You just have to be consistent.
Here’s how to do it. When you sit, straighten your back and pull your shoulders backward. Move your bottom to be in contact with the back of the chair and then pull your stomach in. If your chair has no lumbar support, use a pillow to maintain the natural curvature of your spine.
With this posture, you will have saved yourself back, shoulder, and neck pains; digestive issues; poor blood circulation, headaches; lung complications….the list goes on.
Physical therapists advise that you completely avoid awkward postures such as hunching or slouching while behind a computer because such positions will inevitably cause the aforementioned problems
2 Upgrade To An Economic Chair And/Or Desk
While an upright position puts you in the healthiest and most effective posture for working, your efforts would be futile if your chair and desk do not encourage a correct posture.
At the very least, a chair should support your lower back and have a height that’s adjustable. Set a position that puts your knees slightly above your hips. A proper hip angle will save you from hip pains and other forms of discomfort.
Some people put cushions or folded clothing under their bottom to increase comfort and achieve a stress-free viewing angle, but this should only be a temporary solution. Plan to acquire an ergonomic chair that incorporates workplace ergonomics.
An ideal ergonomic desk will have similar features as well as some extras such as tilt and plenty of legroom. There should be no obstacles keeping you from comfortably accessing what’s on your desk.
If possible, get a standing desk. Working while standing will relieve pressure on your back and shoulders, but don’t stay in this position for over 30 minutes. If you cannot afford one for now, improvise your ironing board, kitchen counter, or shelf to achieve similar outcomes.
3 Embrace Ergonomic PC Accessories
Of all the workspace ergonomic tips, this is the simplest to execute. Simple changes such as replacing your keyboard and mouse with ergonomic models can completely transform your working experience. Such accessories are made to fit your needs.
An ergonomic keyboard, for instance, is designed to encourage natural hand and wrist position while minimizing fatigue, muscle strain, and other related issues.
Always pair this with an ergonomic mouse to experience better productivity. Such a mouse is shaped to achieve similar outcomes. Your hand, fingers, wrist, and elbow will be in their most natural positions while you work.
If possible, get an ergo kit since it comprises every tool, accessory, and furniture that you need to create the perfect working environment.
4 Keep Your Feet Flat On The Floor
You’ve probably done this without knowing it is a position that promotes a healthier back. Sitting with your feet flat on the floor not only balances your pelvis but also keeps your thighs parallel to the floor. These two postures reduce stress and pressure on your spine.
5 Adjust The Monitor To Eye Level
You will need to either tilt your head up or bend your neck down to have a better viewing angle if your laptop or PC monitor is too low or too high. This may work at first but it won’t be long before your neck, shoulder, and back start to ache.
Other conditions you could be vulnerable to include carpal tunnel, eye strain, and posture complications.
A position you will never go wrong with, however, is keeping your screen at (or slightly below) eye level and an arm’s length away. Lower the screen further (1-2 inches) if you wear bifocals.
Some PC monitors, unfortunately, aren’t adjustable. Laptops also need users to bend their necks instead. You can fix this by using an ergonomic monitor and laptop stand or dual monitor arms, depending on the tasks at hand.
6 Workspace Lighting Matters
Glare and eye strain are more often a result of direct light hitting your computer screen. Let me explain. When the light in your workspace is brighter than your computer screen, you will struggle to view what’s on your computer screen.
Some simple solutions you could use to fix this include adjusting the blinds or using glare-reduction window film. You can also wear glasses that block excess light. A permanent solution, however, would be to install glare-free ambient lighting in your workspace.
Also, set up your workstation in a way that reduces glare. You can talk to an ergonomic specialist or interior designer for more ergonomic safety tips. Find out how to go about implementing your new workspace lighting ergonomics.
7 Remember The 20-20-20 Rule
20-20-20 is an old rule that is just as relevant today as it was in 1991 when optometrist Dr. Jeffrey Anshel invented it. It says that you should take 20 seconds to stare at something that’s 20 meters away after every 20 minutes spent behind a computer. Research shows that doing this reduces eye and muscle strain.
Other ergonomic safety tips you should practice include:
- Keep your mouse and keyboard within reach to avoid straining your hands and arms or sitting in awkward positions
- Take short breaks after every 30 minutes to relieve pressure on your muscles
- Bend your elbows between 90 and 100 degrees while working to avoid discomfort
- Get a chair with armrests to reduce shoulder and neck pain
Office Ergonomic Tips: The Don’ts
- Do not get used to working from the bed or couch. This encourages poor posture that could bring you serious problems in the near future.
- Have all items you frequently use within easy reach to avoid straining your arms and hands.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are ergonomics and the benefits?
Ergonomics is a discipline concerned with the design and arrangement of workspace items. It not only examines how humans interact with products and systems in such places but also recommends solutions that can increase productivity and efficiency at work.
There’s actually a lot to enjoy from having an ergonomic workplace. You won’t experience aches, pains, and serious conditions that hinder you from being prolific at work. This will in turn reduce your medical expenses, insurance costs, and absenteeism.
Another proven benefit includes an increase in morale and focus, which will obviously improve your work performance.
What factors affect ergonomics?
There are many risk factors for ergonomics but the major ones you should know about, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, include incorrect posture, bending, direct pressure, insufficient rest breaks, excess temperature, vibrations, and reaching. Make it your goal to change equipment, tools, and positions that expose you to these factors.
What will happen if you ignore ergonomics?
You might go a few days or weeks without experiencing serious problems when you ignore workplace ergonomics, but sooner or later, the small aches in your body will turn into serious disorders that require advanced treatment, including surgeries.
There are millions of people battling various kinds of musculoskeletal disorders caused by poor ergonomics. As you fight to restore your physical health, your productivity will dip and before you know it, there will be no job to go back to. Put simply, there is much to lose when you ignore ergonomics.
Final Word On Ergonomic Tips For Working From Home
Even before the covid pandemic hit the world, many of us worked from home or were in a hybrid arrangement that combined remote and office working. Covid simply escalated things.
You don’t have to wait until there’s pain in your back or neck to get proper furniture and equipment for your workspace. Take this chance to transform the space that you spend a better part of your day in, be it at work or home.
First things first: adopt the correct posture for working and then gradually introduce ergonomic furniture, tools, and accessories. It would be pointless to have all these things if you can’t optimize them.
However tough this process will be, don’t give up! Remain steadfast and sooner or later, you will see the fruits of your labors.