Ergonomics is all about making sure that there’s a perfect fit between a product, the purpose it’s used for, and the person using it. In an office, this relates to items such as chairs, desks, monitor stands and other elements that comprise an employee’s workstation.
On this page, we explain office ergonomics and why it’s so important. We examine ergonomic office furniture in more detail, to help you identify what types of products your office might be lacking.
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Why are ergonomics important?
Ergonomics are important because it helps you feel comfortable and healthy while at work, which leads to less sick days due to illness or injury. Completing repetitive tasks with a steady posture can decrease your stress levels and improve your productivity. Knowing where to place your computer, keyboard and mouse, and how to position your chair can reduce strain on your back and prevent workplace injuries. Sitting up straight and moving comfortably may help you avoid fatigue at work as well, which boosts your energy and motivation to complete tasks.
What is office ergonomics?
Office ergonomics is the concept of styling and designing your work area to keep you comfortable, productive and efficient. Using the proper office ergonomics to correctly position your chair, desk, computer and other work items helps you feel healthy and energized at work, while avoiding injuries.
Many office product manufacturers build ergonomically sound items to prevent any musculoskeletal disorders, strains or injuries from occurring as you work at your desk all day. If you arent using products already made with ergonomics in mind, you can adjust them on your own to fit your specific comfort needs and preferences.
How to practice ergonomics in the office
Take time to reposition your desk, chair, computer and other office items to ensure youre comfortable while completing tasks throughout your entire workday. Follow these steps to effectively practice ergonomics in the office:
1. Sit in a supportive chair
Since you spend a large portion of time sitting at work, you should have a chair that supports your spine and its curves. Ask for a chair with an adjustable backrest that allows you to angle it to allow a straight posture. This ensures it supports and cushions your back. The chair should also follow the natural curve of your back using lumbar support.
Consider purchasing or requesting a chair that adjusts according to your height. Try to make sure your feet touch the floor comfortably and dont apply any additional pressure to your legs. If youre unable to adjust your chairs height, place a footrest or stack of books underneath it.
2. Minimize the need to reach for objects
Consider finding a chair that rolls and swivels when needed to limit the need to reach for objects, which may cause strain on your back and other parts of your body. Keep important objects you grab regularly close to you, like your stapler, telephone or keys. Try not to stand up to reach anything to maximize your flexibility, avoid reaching and reduce strain or excess pressure on your body.
3. Straighten your wrists while typing
Your mouse should also be easy for you to reach with little pressure or strain being put on your hands and wrists to type or click. Keep your upper arms close to your body while typing and place your hands at elbow-level. Since excessively clicking and moving your mouse can cause strain or tension on your hands, consider installing keyboard shortcuts to limit this use. Some computer mouse tools allow you to adjust the sensitivity, requiring a light click when making selections.
4. Use a headset or speaker while on the phone
You may regularly speak with clients, vendors or coworkers on the phone, which can cause strain on your neck if you place the phone between your head and shoulder. When youre typing and talking at once, consider installing headsets or headphones to comfortably conduct conversations. If you have your own office, use the speaker phone option for a hands-free interaction.
5. Position your monitor right in front of you
Since the computer monitor sits right in front of you and is usually your main focus throughout the day, you should position it properly. Place it eye-level in front of you to ensure youre not straining your neck or body to look at it while working.
Maintain a correct viewing distance, which is far away enough that you can see the content on your computer without straining or hurting your eyes. This is typically an arms length away. Take regular breaks from staring at your monitor by choosing a different object or area to focus your eyes on for a few seconds before returning to your work.
6. Make sure your desk is the appropriate height
Give yourself plenty of room to place your knees, feet and thighs underneath your desk. If you have a low desk that youre unable to adjust accordingly, consider putting blocks or boards underneath its legs to manually heighten it. For desks that seem too tall for you, try to adjust your chair to match its height, if possible. If your wrists rest on a hard edge of the desk, get padding to place along the desks edges for a more comfortable wrist position.
7. Sit or stand up straight
Whenever possible, sit or stand up straight throughout your workday. This keeps your spine from curving and can reduce any future back pains. Try not to sit in a way that puts body weight and pressure on your back or other areas of your body. Stay sitting straight when you can and find ways to avoid bending over for extended periods.
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