Ergonomics refers to the study of designing or arranging items to maximize people’s efficiency while at work. So unless you’ve put some time and thought into the ergonomics of your workspace, chances are you may be hurting yourself while on the job. Brush up on your ergo-knowledge with these five tricks to make your workplace safer and better. Your back will thank you.
Align Your Space
If you’ve ever tried to drive a friend’s car, then you know that a person who is 5’4” is going to need a much different workspace than a person who is 6’2”. Don’t just accept your desk the way it is when you get it, use these handy tips and tricks from Ergotron.com to tailor your space to your specifications. I’m 5’6”, so my chair, monitor and keyboard need to be 16, 46 and 25 inches off the ground, respectively. A person that’s 5’5” has entirely different measurements. Remember, though: Our positions and posture do — and should — change throughout the day. Adjust accordingly.
Don’t Ignore What Your Body Tells You
Do you have consistent pain in your back, neck, wrists or any other part of your body? It could all stem from your posture at work. So remember what your momma said, and sit up straight! In the meantime, try these simple tips to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome while at your office, and these for a full-body “deskercise” workout. There’s a lot you can do to mitigate chronic pain from bad ergonomics, and it’s not a magic cure-all: It’s simply having better posture.
Invest in Your Future
Yes, you may have to open your wallet for this, but the good news is that your job might (or at least, should) cover any expenses related to workplace ergonomics. Invest in a good mouse, keyboard and chair and you’ll start to feel the difference immediately. Check out these suggestions for the best mouses at Lifehacker.com, and their readers’ suggestions for similar keyboards. Balking at the price? Amortize, and then ask yourself if a healthy body isn’t worth a few cents every day, over the course of your working life.
Let Your Eyes Rest
We’ve covered this before, but it’s scientifically proven that if you work near a window, you will sleep better and have improved quality of life compared to your cubicled neighbors. If you can’t move your desk around, then at least get up and go stare out a window for a few minutes every hour. Blink rates are reduced significantly when staring at a screen all day, leading to severe eyestrain in office workers. Remember the 20/20/20 rule: Rest your eyes by looking at something more than 20 feet away, every 20 minutes, for at least 20 seconds. (It takes a full 20 seconds for your eyes to relax and fully refocus.)
Use Technology at Hand
I use Chrome as my browser, which comes with a whole host of free apps from the Chrome Web Store. One of my favorites is called ScreenShader and it adjusts the blue light of my screen over the course of the day to a more visually-gentle orange. (You can do the same thing with your smartphone at night.) So even though there’s no window in my fluorescent-lit office, my brain is tricked into thinking that the light is naturally changing — like it would if I were working outside. It also helps reduce screen fatigue, eye strain and migraines caused by blue light. But you can also use your computer to set timers to remind you to exercise, or install a program that won’t let you continue with work until you’ve taken a 5-minute break. The options are out there, you just have to be willing to change your habits to see the benefits.
Standing up improves productivity by increasing blood flow and brain activity. Purging your desk clears your mind. Faking a smile can actually make you feel better. Want more tips? We have them …
Today, our bodies still have this expectation baked in, says Max Vercruyssen, a retired ergonomist and human-performance specialist who’s conducted pioneering research related to posture. That means, depending on how you hold yourself, there could be huge differences in how your body operates, which could have major implications for office workers looking to boost their productivity.
Those long hours you’re logging at your desk may be taking a physiological toll that your morning run and bike commute can’t quite undo. We’re in the midst of a sitting epidemic that comes with some pretty scary health implications, but a simple change in our corporate culture might hold the key to better fitness for us all.
I know sitting all day is bad for me, even if I’m getting exercise, so I’d like to try a standing desk. Some of my coworkers would, too. How do I approach my boss about potentially making a change to the way his employees do their work? I have the same question for getting new chairs. I know they’re expensive, but many of us are uncomfortable. How can I convince him that it’s a good idea to spend the money?