The Perfect Ergonomic Workspace
Most of us working at home have been hearing a lot about ergonomics, but what is it? And what does it have to do with us? Little do we know, it has everything to do with us, and the impact of it can make or break our wellbeing–– even just in the comforts of our home.
So first off, what is ergonomics? Simply put, it’s the discipline focused on the interactions between people and the elements of a system. It’s the intersection of physiology, engineering, and design. Why is that important? Because it puts into context our relationship with our workspace, and how it maximizes (or disrupts) our own efficiency. After years of reporting to an office where our setup is a done deal, we are in total control of our working environment for once. Make the most of it with these 5 tips to get the perfect ergonomic workspace at home!
1. Adjust the height of your desk.
For any job that requires you to stay on your computer, your desk is the foundation of your workplace. Of course, you need your tools at the ready. But beyond that, what’s more important is the desk height. Up to where does tabletop stand?
Ideally, the surface of your desk should be at level with you elbows, creating a 90º to 110º angle with your forearms are resting in front of you. If it’s higher than that, there will be strain on you forearms and shoulders, but if it’s too low, it will strain your back. As for your legs, they should fit comfortably under the desk with just enough allowance for you to cross your legs without your knees hitting above.
Tip: According to experts, the perfect cycle of movement for your body during work hours is spending 20 minutes sitting down, 8 minutes standing, then 2 minutes of walking around before starting again.
2. Position your monitor properly.
Whether we use desktop monitors or laptops, we often take their placement for granted, much less acknowledge it as a source of discomfort and fatigue. Not only does the actual screen cause eye strain, but the position can cause neck and shoulder pain!
To reduce eye strain, it must be at least 20 inches away from you, or at an arm’s length. The tilt of the screen should be around 10º to 20º angled with the bottom of the screen nearer you, so that the top of the screen should be at or below eye level.
Tip: If you use two monitors, set them up side by side without a gap. This is to reduce the space of shifting your focus back and forth! However, if you use one of the two monitors more othan the other, put the secondary monitor off-center.
3. Consider an external keyboard and mouse.
Most likely for laptop users, we overlook the logic of our external devices because they are ready for us to use. But the placement and angle of our keyboard and mouse matter! Getting them right eliminates the risk of straining and injuries like tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. You may opt for ergonomic options!
Tip: For laptop users, it may seem redundant, but it pays off in the end! Invest in laptop stand to make more room on your desk.
This may come as a surprise, but the ideal position of your arms while typing is that your elbows remain beside you and not stretched out in front of you. As for the angle of your keyboard, the more relaxed your wrists can be, the better. So at any angle where your wrists are tilting upward, that’s a one-way ticket to injuring yourself! And lastly, though it is dependent on the height of your desk, your keyboard and mouse should be at a certain level to allow your forearms to be parallel to the floor.
For the accompanying mouse, the ordinary shapes don’t do the trick. Find a contoured mouse to fit your hand and eliminate or tension in your fingers.
4. Organize your workstation into zones.
The idea of assigning zones is to prioritize and organize your belongings according to relevance, thus minimizing unnecessary strains and stretches. Your desk is your dashboard of sorts, and so it must be customized to fit your needs, tasks, and general preference; minimalistic or decorated, a little cluttered or with everything in order.
The first zone is for your first-in-command! Aside from your computer, what do you need within reach? Only place objects that you use as frequent as your mouse and keyboard for your tasks.
The second zone is the circumference of your reach when you extend your arms, but not leaning or bending your torso. Place the things you frequently use, but not all the time: pens, notebooks, etc.
Lastly, the third zone is for a healthy distance within your reach, but you’ll have to lean at the waist to get there. Things you use occasionally and/or during breaks, like water bottles, disinfectants, or office supplies belong here.
For the last tip on workstations, you can always indulge in designing the space to feel like yours. Personal touches bring comfort and warmth, but they should never steal your attention! Strike a healthy balance between inspiration and distraction.
5. Choose the right chair
Believe it or not, 1 out of 2 people in the industrialized word suffer from some form of back pain. And guess what? Many are directly related to poor seat design. On average, we spend 8 to 15 hours sitting down. Out of all components that come into play in your workspace, choosing the right chair minimizes the most injuries and back pain!
A lot of factors go into finding the right chair as it affects the posture of different parts of the body, but let’s start from the bottom up. Your feet should be flat and comfortable on the floor, with knees at a 90º to 120º angle, and your thighs roughly parallel to the floor. This anchors your body to a stable position while working.
The back is the most focused area of long-term pain because most of the weight rests here. A chair that offers lumbar support is the most important factor of a chair: the backrest should take the natural shape of your lower back. An extra feature could be to recline and tilt the back rest! This reduces tension and pressure on the back and neck.
The arm rests are usually built in with fixed height, but having adjustable arm rests open your options to allowing that 90º angle of your elbows to the desk, and having one that pivots to support the entire length of your forearm minimizes wrist injuries as well.
The rule of thumb with your workspace is that the more adjustments are available, the more you can customize your surroundings to your body’s needs and implement all the best practices according to ergonomics! With the therapeutic Ergoal™ One chair and all its features that provide superior comfort, create a sustainable, comfortable environment around you as you continue to make the best of this new normal.