Workplace Pro Tip: Don’t Forget Ergonomics

A bad workplace setup—whether at home or in the office—can cause a lot of physical damage if you’re not careful. Read on for some ergonomic improvement strategies.

Whether you’re re-entering the office for the first time in a couple of years and have the chance to reset your workstation—or have been making do with a home setup for a while and need a tune-up to soothe your aching wrists—now might be a good time to think about ergonomics.

Starting Points

If your home office is making you uncomfortable, there are plenty of steps you can take to improve your posture and your positioning.

EHS Today recommends adjustments to the positioning of your equipment—for example, adjusting your seat back, and ensuring that your monitor is far enough away that it does not create strain on your eyes.

The website recommends following the “NEW” principles (neutral posture, eye and elbow height, work area) when building an office environment that works for your needs.

“Keep items that are used often in the primary work zone (the area when elbows are at the sides and the hands are moved side to side…; keep items that are used less often in the secondary work zone (area within the outstretched arms),” the website states. “In the office, the keyboard and mouse should be in the primary work zone, centered with the user and the monitors.”

Ergonomic Tactics

Those basics are great, but there are actions you can take with any desk setup to ensure that your ergonomics setup is in top form without buying new equipment.

The website ErgoPlus, for example, recommends putting your chair as close to your desk as possible to prevent slouching, while ensuring your chair is low enough to allow your feet to touch the floor, but high enough so that the height of your keyboard matches your elbows.

Another thing to consider: the tactics you use on a daily basis. If for example, you pick up a phone headset and your first instinct is to crunch the headset between your neck and ear, you might be doing more harm than good. And if you’re near a window, do what you can to reduce glare on your screen, as reflected light can cause unnecessary eye strain.

Finally, be sure to take some breaks—even if just to rest your eyes. EHS Today recommends the 20-20-20 rule—“i.e. take a 20 second break every 20 minutes by looking at things at least 20 feet away.”

Stretch Goals

Ultimately, tweaking your approach may only go so far when improving your ergonomics, and you might need an upgrade to your accessories—or even your desk.

If your organization offers a stipend for office supplies, now might be a good time to invest in some improved equipment that can assist with improving issues such as eye strain and neck positioning. One area you don’t want to cheap out on is the chair; a nonadjustable chair is an ergonomic roadblock.

And if you are on the go and use a laptop on a regular basis, consider investing in a portable laptop stand that can elevate the height of both the keyboard and the screen so you’re not having to look down quite so much. It could save you a little unnecessary hunching.

(SurfUpVector/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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