Office Ergonomics Tips for Increased Productivity
With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other issues caused by improper ergonomics on the rise among the nation’s office workers, it’s time for employees everywhere to reevaluate their office arrangements. Changing your office habits to reflect better ergonomics can benefit you in a number of ways, including by reducing back pain, eye strain, neck pain, and wrist pain. Since reduced discomfort leads to increased productivity, employers should urge their employees to follow the tips below:
Move your monitor.
The most common tip regarding monitor position is that the screen should be between 18 and 24 inches from your face. However, in reality, it’s actually best for your monitor to be as far away as possible while still being clearly visible (to avoid eye strain). The "18 to 24 inches" figure is probably just reflecting the average distance from which most individuals can still view their screens, but for many people, the monitor can move back even further. Another misconception about the position of your computer screen is related to the monitor’s height. At one time, experts recommended that the top of the screen be placed at eye level, but ergonomics experts now know that this is actually the highest you should place your monitor. Ideally, you should position your monitor at the height that feels most comfortable for your eyes and neck, without allowing the top of the screen to exceed eye level height.
When time spent at work and home are both taken into account, the average office worker sits for upwards of 15 hours a day. Therefore, one of the most important things you can do for your body (and your productivity at work) is to change positions often. This serves to reduce the amount of strain placed on whatever muscles you tend to favor throughout the day, thereby reducing risk of overuse.
Just as importantly, changing positions acts as a restart button for your body. After an hour or more of inactivity, your body’s production of certain beneficial enzymes slows drastically, but by moving periodically, you keep your body’s production of these enzymes constant. By doing so, you help to lower your risk of weight gain, diabetes, and cholesterol problems. Even regular exercisers are not exempt from the risks of long periods of inactivity, so it’s important to change positions at least once an hour by walking around, stretching, or simply standing and shaking out.
Improve your posture.
Although the preferred piece of ergonomics advice regarding posture was once to sit upright with your hips at a ninety degree angle, experts now recommend something different. Instead, strive to sit with the angle of your hips (the angle formed by your thighs and your torso) positioned at greater than ninety degrees, preferably around one hundred and thirty degrees. As noted above, switching positions periodically is very important, but this posture is ergonomically friendly because it does not require much work from your back muscles and also alleviates stress on your lower inter vertebral discs.
Fix your keyboard.
The keyboard is probably one of the main sources of office ergonomics problems, so in order to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other injuries, it’s important for you to position your keyboard correctly. When typing, your wrists should remain straight, allowing your forearms to stay roughly parallel to the floor. There’s no rule saying that you can’t push your keyboard further back on your desk, but be sure you only do so if your workspace is at a height that allows your wrists and forearms to remain in the proper position. Also, although wrist rests are popular in offices, experts say that most individuals probably shouldn’t type relying on them constantly. The carpal tunnel is located on the underside of the wrist beneath the palm, and by using a wrist rest constantly, you could be subjecting it to undue amounts of pressure.
Avoid injury and discomfort caused by prolonged periods at the office by implementing the tips above. Proper office ergonomics can not only improve your health and overall well-being, but can also increase your productivity at work.