It is not uncommon in today’s working world to spend more than 8-9 hours a day sitting in your cubicle or at any desk, for that matter, typing away on a computer or laptop. Your primary focus is most likely the work that needs to get done that day. But what if the way your workspace is configured could actually have a negative influence on your productivity? Although most people don’t think about this, it is something that you should spend time evaluating. Your work setup, if not configured correctly for you, can actually lead to muscular pain, as well as have a negative impact on your productivity and overall focus.
Ergonomics is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.” Awareness about ergonomics has significantly increased in the past few years. Today, many companies offer ergonomic programs to employees. After all, if employees are spending 8-9 hours a day at their desks, it is very important that their work setup is designed for comfort, productivity and focus.
Interested in learning more? Here are 5 quick ergonomic tips:
1. Create a stable base of support.
I am only 5’4” so it is not uncommon for me to sit in a chair where my feet don’t naturally reach the floor. Although I used to somewhat enjoy swinging my feet around, it is important to make sure your feet can firmly touch the floor or footrest. A footrest can provide full foot support/stability. Also, the footrest can offer some elevation for employees with medical conditions involving poor lower leg circulation and swelling.
2. Make sure you have back support.
Adjust your seat depth so that there is 2-3 fingers’ width of room between the back of your knee and the front of the chair.
3. Keep your elbows and upper arms by your side.
Align what you touch (input devices such as keyboard, mouse, trackpad, number pad, etc.) at your relaxed elbow height. If the keyboard is too high, you will have what I like to call T-Rex arms and this can put strain on your wrists. If the keyboard is too low, you will be reaching and this can put strain on your elbows, upper back and shoulders.
4. Protect your neck.
Have you ever had to sit in the front row of a movie theater? If so, you know how painful it can be when you are too close to the screen and have to tilt your neck up the entire time. Conversely, it can be very uncomfortable looking too far down for long periods of time. Ideally, you want to keep your primary viewing area centered and within your comfortable viewing range. This will avoid unnecessary neck/back pain.
5. Get up and move!
Stretching and a few moments of general body movement every hour will help to refresh your body and mind. A good 5 minute break here and there will improve circulation and overall focus.