Episode 57 – A beginner’s Guide to Office Ergonomics – 8 Factors to Fix

 

Are you an office worker or business owner?

 

For those who work in an office setting you’ll know what it’s like to be sitting down and working for hours on end. You may have also realized that office ergonomics – the design and arrangement of your workplace – has serious health implications on your mind and body and must to be optimized regularly. Why? Because you can permanently damage your health and wellbeing if you don’t.

 

The following factors can impact your body in both the short-term and long-term:

1. Desk

Good desk height and positioning are critical in office ergonomics. As you know good posture allows proper blood circulation, nerve function and lymphatic drainage – all of which are important for health and wellbeing.

 

What to do with your desk:

Your desk shouldn’t be too high or too low, as this would affect your overall posture. An adjustable desk would be ideal (such as the ones that allow you to stand and sit), however alternate solutions such as, choosing a chair with an adjustable height work just as well (in comparison to a fixed chair height).

 

2. Chair

A comfortable, supportive, and well-positioned chair is key for an optimal workstation, as this is what your body rests on throughout the day.

 

What to look for in a chair:

Ideally, you should get an adjustable, compact chair that allows you to sit upright while supporting your lower back. This is beneficial for both your upper torso and lower back in particular. You might be interested in purchasing a Swiss Ball Chair, or a Half Dome Chair for balance and upright posture. Another thing to consider is sitting position on the chair. Make sure your sitting “square on,” not on an edge or too far back or forward.

 

3. Lighting

The general lighting of your workplace should be considered as well. Make sure you have just the right brightness level for what you need. The last thing you want is to be squinting too hard to see things in the dark, or worse, exposing your eyes to harsh or extreme brightness – either would be disadvantageous to your productivity.

 

What to consider with lighting:

If it’s dark, have an extra source of light nearby such as a desk lamp. Moreover, if you can get a light with a dimming feature where you are able to finely adjust the brightness of your surroundings that would also be an added benefit.

 

What about your computer monitor?

Similarly, the brightness of your computer monitor or any screen display used (e.g. phone, tablet) should be moderate. Overly bright or dark screens could affect your vision, causing short-term problems like headaches and eye strains, but more alarmingly long-term issues such as, impaired vision. Notably, blue spectrum light coming from your monitor can have serious consequences on a sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, ultimately impacting your sleep at night. You may want to look into downloadable software that helps reduce these UV rays emitted from your computer monitor.

 

4. Monitor

Your monitor’s height should be right at your line of sight or slightly above, otherwise improper positioning may lead to problems like Upper Cross Syndrome (or “hump back”) which is chronic bad posture. If it is positioned too low, you may find solutions such as placing your monitor on a stack of books or other supportive items may help. You can also buy monitor stands if you wish. Another factor is the monitor’s distance from your eyes. If your monitor is too close or too far away from your eyes, it may lead to a number of vision problems, such as, eye strain and impairments, as earlier discussed.

 

How to help your eyes:

Take a rest as often as possible, practice eye rolling exercises and even learning to juggle are easy activities to do while you rest. These will get blood flow to your eye muscles (yes eyes have muscles).

 

 

What are the other 4 factors to fix? Scroll down!

 

 

5. Keyboard

Position your keyboard so that you can type comfortably. Ensure that you can rest your forearms on your desk but not too close that your wrists suffer tightness – this can lead to issues such as, carpal tunnel syndrome or R.S.I. (repetitive strain injury).

 

How to mobilize your wrists:

Do wrist and finger stretches from time-to-time throughout the day. This would help to ease the strain on your forearms, wrists and hands – especially after long periods of typing.

 

6. Mouse

I bet you use your mouse with your right hand. Am I right? Lol. If you’re like most people and use only one hand for your mouse/ trackpad, it might be a good idea to exercise the other non-dominant hand.

 

Challenge of the week:

If you are right-handed, why not experiment and switch to your left hand for a change? This would not only give your right hand a rest, but also allow you to exercise your other hand, rewire your brain and give you a new challenge.

 

7. Phones

Most companies use telephones to communicate externally – this is especially true for business process outsourcing offices or call centers that rely on phones. However, prolonged use of a typical phone squeezed between one’s ear, neck, and shoulders – causing one to assume an asymmetrical pose – may result in problems for both posture and neck/shoulder tightness. This is particularly important because this area has quite a few important nerves running through the area and you need them to be working effectively.

 

What to do instead:

A hands-free type of phone would be preferable, with the added advantage of having your two hands free to “multitask.”

 

8. Any activity

Several types of activities constantly happen in your workstation – writing, reading, typing, and whatnot. Remember to keep a good posture no matter how busy you are.

 

Try this:

Self-awareness of your physicality will go a long way to maintaining optimal posture for your health and wellbeing particularly the neck, head, shoulder and back areas. Put a sticky note on your monitor right now to remind yourself to adjust your posture.

 

 

Quick fix

It is important to take office ergonomics seriously. Remember that posture, health and wellness should never be ignored, no matter where you are.

Bibliography

  • Chek, P. (2009) How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy!
  • Cooley, B. (2005) The Genius of Flexibility: The smart way to stretch and strengthen your body. Fireside
  • Erhman, J. Gordon, P. Visich, P. Keteyian, S. (2003) Clinical Exercise Physiology. Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.
  • Myers, T. (2009) Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists (2nd Ed.). Churchill Livingstone
  • Porth, C. (2002) Pathophysiology: Concepts of Altered Health States (6th Ed.) Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins
  • Scientific Publishing, Ltd. (no author) (2006) Scientific Publishing’s Anatomy Chart Book. Scientific Publishing Limited
  • Sherwood, L.(2004) Human Physiology: From Cells to Systems (5th Ed.) Thomson, Brooks/Cole

Chris Everingham lives and breathes health & fitness.

Chris Everingham lives and breathes health & fitness. International Athlete, Elite Performance Manager for the Philippine Volcanoes rugby teams, qualified Dietitian / Nutritionist and qualified educator. Chris Everingham combines more than 10 years of experience and education together to deliver the best strategies to grow your mindset, rewire your habits and transform your life.

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