The Fundamentals of Ergonomics for Work
With the current situation of working remotely, having the perfect ergonomic workspace at home has never been this important. To achieve this, it’s always best to understand the foundation of the discipline.
Go back to the basics with these principles that play into ergonomics and how they determine our wellbeing and productivity.
1. Maintain a neutral posture
Our bodies are most aligned when we are keeping to our neutral postures. So when we are in any position – whether it’s sitting, standing, or lying down – we have to minimize the pressure applied to our bodies. We spend a lot of our time sitting down, which naturally benefits us the most if we have furniture that supports this.
2. Work in your power zone
Just like a home court advantage, we are at our most productive when we are working at our power zone or comfort zone. This defines the area between mid-chest to mid-thigh, where arms and back lift the most with the least effort. With your laptop and all work necessities right in front of you, you minimize any excessive reach while still maintaining a neutral posture.
It’s important to note that alignment of the body is key, but the alignment of your surroundings widely contributes to ramp up your focus. The immediate and center of your attention should be your most used tool–– our computers are the most common. It reduces stress and any exertion our body would have to make.
3. Find allowance for movement and stretching
The most common cause of back pain and injuries stems from stagnancy; our bodies were designed to move. Working long periods of time in one position causes fatigue, thus leading to static load.
Any movement you can incorporate into your day will go a long way, which is why it’s even more important to create a workspace with enough space to move and stretch your limbs, and get the weight off your back!
4. Reduce resistance
The positions we find ourselves in during work may seem normal: a simple desk and chair used to be fine. But there are countless ways we may be putting excess stress on our lower back. Even the smallest movements we don’t even notice that require force take a toll on us.
External things like contact stress, friction, and excessive vibration can not only cause discomfort, but can also cause serious conditions. Continuous rubbing of say our fingers, palms, thighs, or feet on rough surfaces may seem mildly uncomfortable, but in the long run, could create localized pressure for a small area of your body, and can damage your tendons or cause nerve problems.
5. Use adequate lighting
Poor lighting puts a ton of strain on our eyes. It affects both our comfort level and performance, and could lead to long-term damage! Too much or too little makes work difficult, so make sure the positioning of your light or lampshade doesn’t create a backlit shadow from behind your point of interest (mainly computer screen). Avoid direct sunlight, and make sure monitor is not placed in front of a window that will cause glare.
Now that you've got the fundamentals down to a T, try applying it to your home office! Keep reading to achieve the perfect ergonomic workspace.