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Your Guide to a Comfortable and Ergonomic Workspace

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Ergonomic workspace
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For many of us, the workweek involves spending 40 hours a week sitting at a desk, whether in an office or at home. Unfortunately, if this setup is not done thoughtfully, you can end up putting strain on the body leading to long-lasting pain. Creating an ergonomic workspace will help reduce and prevent injuries, helping contribute to your long-term comfort and health.

What is an Ergonomic Workspace?

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Ergonomics refers to the science of tailoring things we use to match our body’s natural movements and positions. The purpose is to improve efficiency, comfort, and safety. There are many different designs and arrangements that can benefit our bodies while we sit at our desks, such as the type of chair we use and how we position our keyboards. Poor ergonomics can lead to pain and injury.

Assessing Your Space

The first step in achieving an ergonomic workspace is assessing your current one. Assuming that your space consists of the standard workspace items – a desk, chair, and computer – ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my desk at the right height?
  • Is my chair comfortable and adjustable?
  • Is my monitor at eye level?
  • Are my keyboard and mouse easily reachable?
  • Is there sufficient lighting in my workspace?

If you are unsure what is the “right” position for anything, use an image of the proper setup to guide you. There are plenty of graphics online that demonstrate the components of an ergonomic workstation.

Ergonomic Essentials

Ergonomic office designs and essentials

There are multiple components that make up a workstation. Here are some of the most common ones and the best practices for each.

Your Chair

Your chair should support your spine as much as possible, so chairs with tall backs are ideal. When you lean back, there shouldn’t be any gaps between any part of the chair and your back. The ideal angle for your chair’s backrest is a 100-110 degree reclined angle.

Your chair’s height should be adjusted so that your feet can rest flat on the floor. If your seat is too high, you can also put your feet on a footrest – as long as your thighs are parallel to the ground. A chair with armrests is best so that you can rest your elbows and relax your shoulders. 

Your Desk

Your desk needs to have enough space underneath for your legs. If you are storing too many items under your desk, you could end up sitting in an unnatural position that puts strain on the body. Your hands should be able to rest flat on the desk when you type. You don’t want your arms hovering, leading to hunched shoulders.

Standing desks can also help by reducing the amount of time you sit. If you do choose to stand while working, having an anti-fatigue mat under your feet will reduce strain on your legs and lower back by providing cushioning.

Your Mouse

Poor mouse placement or overuse can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and other hand and wrist injuries. Make sure that your wrist can rest on the desk so you aren’t reaching up or down to use your mouse.

While this type of repetitive stress injury is eligible for insurance benefits, you don’t want the injury to get to that point. Workers’ compensation lawyers at DiMarco Araujo Montevideo in Riverside recommend asking your boss for help with your setup. Many employers are willing to work with their employees to create ergonomic workstations in the office.

Your Computer

In addition to properly using a mouse (and not a trackpad), it’s best to have the other components of a laptop separate. If you simply use a laptop on a desk, it’s unlikely that the screen will be at eye level. This will encourage the neck to look down instead of straight ahead, putting strain on the body.

By having your laptop on a stand to elevate it, or having a separate monitor at eye level, your head and neck will be straight with shoulders relaxed. A good rule of thumb is to have your monitor an arm’s length away from you. Having a separate keyboard will also ensure that you aren’t reaching too far forward to type. 

Having adequate lighting in your workspace is also important to reduce eye strain. Play around with your screen’s blue light feature to see how your eyes feel using different lighting. You don’t need to break the bank to achieve a comfortable workspace, and simple tricks like lighting can go a long way. You can also try using some books or a cushion to adjust the height of your monitor or chair.

Additional Tips For an Injury-Free Workspace

Throughout the day it’s important to take frequent breaks to get up and move around. Taking a walk or stretching helps to reduce the amount of time that your body is in one position. It will also help if you create a routine of checking your posture throughout the day. Consistency is key to success.

One of the most common types of injuries that can develop from a poor setup is repetitive motion injuries, also called repetitive stress injuries. Some of the most common repetitive motion injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, and tendinitis. An ergonomic workspace will help reduce the risk of these long-term injuries in the elbows, wrists, and hands. Take your health into your own hands by ensuring that your workspace is comfortable.

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Emenike Emmanuel is a multiple award-winning blogger, CEO of Entrepreneur Business Blog, Chief Evangelist of Ebusinessroom Ventures, and the Lead Coach of an online community of over 12,000 business owners called, The Excellent Entrepreneurs' Network. He’s here to help you start, manage and grow a profitable and sustainable business using digital marketing strategies. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn & Pinterest with this handle, @emenikeng. Telegram group - t.me/yourfirst1000 | Email: [email protected]

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