Are you working a 9-5 job daily? Are you tired of having constant backaches from sitting in the same position slumped over your laptop? Because I do, and I understand the struggle.
Whether you are currently working, be it in the office or at home, it is essential to have a proper workspace to boost your productivity and avoid severe long-term consequences.
Let’s dive deeper into the article to understand better what ergonomics is about and how to achieve an ergonomic workplace.
If you have not heard of the word ‘ergonomics’, you may be wondering what it truly means. Some may think that ergonomics only has to do with office chairs or tools to help support your posture, which is also true.
According to International Ergonomics Association, they defined the term ergonomics as:
“The scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system and the profession that applies theory, principles, data, and methods to design to optimise human well-being and overall system performance.”
In other words, it is the process of designing products and workplaces that accommodate people who use them so that there won’t be any physical or mental strain on their wellbeing.
So Why Should You Implement Workplace Ergonomics?
Studies have found that one of the fastest-growing categories of workplace injury is Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD). According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, MSD is an injury or disorder that comprises more than 150 different bones, muscles, ligaments, connective tissues and joints.
Statistics show that MSD are the most prevalent chronic conditions in Australia, and there are at least 1 in 3 Australians who suffer from some form of MSD. These also generally increase with age.
The most common form of Musculoskeletal conditions are:
Back pain and (missing word here?) problems (16.2% of the population)
Other forms of arthritis (5.3%)
Hence, it is essential to implement ergonomics into your workstation. There is only one primary goal to ergonomics - to reduce stress and eliminate any injuries or disorders associated with the overuse of muscles, bad posture, and repeated tasks when working. What this means is that your neck isn’t bent in a contorted manner, your arms not extended, and your spine isn’t curled up in an awkward position.
There are many different ways to have and to create an ergonomic workspace. Here are some tips that can help you.
1. Choose The Right Chair For Your Posture
It’s essential to choose a chair that supports the body in its neutral position, allowing your spinal curves to relax. Ideally, it would be best if you had an adjustable chair to tailor it to what suits you best so there won’t be any stressful angles or excessive reaching to complete daily tasks.
A general rule of thumb is to ensure that your feet rest flat on the floor or a footrest and that your thighs should be parallel to the ground to keep them in an ergonomically correct position. It would help if you gently rest your arms on the armrest so your shoulders are relaxed and not tensed. This will be in a way similar to sitting in your car’s driver's seat with your body slightly leaning backwards.
Pro Tip: You can also purchase a Lumbar Support Cushion to provide extra support to your lumbar region, also known as the lower back area. This would help avoid any long-term conditions that may occur.
Gaming chairs are great in terms of comfort, which can support your back. You can consider two choices:
The desk is said to be the heart of your workspace. You should ensure that your workspace allows you to accommodate all the office tools you’ll need to complete your work effectively. Such devices are your mouse, keyboard, laptop, desktop, so on and so forth. It is recommended that you choose a desk space that is just the right size and height.
You’ll want to choose a desk that is not too high as it may cause strain to your arms and shoulders. On the other hand, having a low desk will cause you to bend over, which puts stress on your back.
A few criteria to follow are ensuring your legs fit comfortably under the desk with your feet flat on the floor. Your arms should also be angled between 90 and 110 degrees so that they can comfortably rest on the desk as you type. It is also recommended to have a general height desk of 73 cm plus-minus 2.5 cm.
Pro Tip: Consider investing in a versatile office desk that lets you adjust the height. So when you get tired of sitting down, you can constantly change the height to stand while you continue with your work.
The monitor position also plays a vital role to ensure you are having an ergonomic workspace. Looking at a screen should not involve straining your eyes or your neck. Sometimes, it may not even be the first thing you think of when you’re feeling tired or having neck stiffness.
This is where ergonomics come to play as it dictates that individuals viewing a display need not require craning their necks around. Hence, ensure that you place your monitor directly in front of you and at an arm’s length away. The top of the screen should be at eye level. It would be best if you also placed your monitor directly behind your keyboard.
Pro Tip: If you are a laptop user, we recommend purchasing a laptop stand to elevate your device so that the screen will be at eye level, which doesn’t cause too much stress to your neck and shoulders.
Having a wide enough monitor makes it easier to comprehend tasks given as compared to a laptop screen. Here are a few picks to contemplate:
Another factor to note is that your keyboard and mouse placement should be structured around your body’s neutral position. Through that, you can avoid developing any upper limb disorders (ULDs) such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or tendonitis.
You should place the mouse and keyboard close to the front of the desk. This would keep your elbows and forearms to your side at an approximate 90-degree angle. It will then allow your shoulders to relax, so you’re not straining any unnecessary muscles. Do not place your keyboard and mouse on different levels, or you’ll keep reaching for them and adding unnecessary strains.
Pro Tip: Consider purchasing a keyboard without a number pad as they put your letters (your primary input tools) off centre. It is also good to buy a wrist rest for your keyboard and mouse so they can support your wrists.
If you’re looking for wrist rests, try out Kingston HyperX’s Wrist Rest! One of our top picks for you.
Having good lighting is probably something people won’t think about when it comes to an ergonomic workspace. You will avoid developing any Computer Vision Syndromes (CVS) with proper and adequate lighting, such as fatigue, blurry vision, and headaches.
Working in insufficient lighting spaces will only strain your eyes as you may need to look closer to make sense of a given task. And if you’re already wearing prescription glasses, your prescription may increase, resulting in frequent visits to the optician. If you’re working from home, try placing your desk in areas where natural light falls into as much as possible during the day. This keeps you more alert and focused throughout the work hours.
Pro Tip: Try applying the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of screen time, stop and take a look at something else 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Regular breaks like these can help to relieve any eye strain.
If you think that your workspace doesn’t have adequate lighting, we suggest checking some of our Xiaomi Lamps out:
Not only will including indoor plants at your workstation make it look more aesthetically pleasing to look at, but it can also reduce your stress and boost productivity.
A study conducted at the University of Technology, Sydney, in 2010, found that offices with indoor plants aid in:
37% reduction in tension/anxiety
44% reduction in anger/hostility
38% reduction in chronic fatigue
58% reduction in reported depression/dejection
Besides, studies have found that the indoor air quality is not as clean as we may think. Thus, indoor office plants can act as a natural filter by removing some of the air’s harmful substances. Office plants also make a suitable replacement for air purifiers. With this, it can help improve your health and wellbeing and reduce sick days.
Lastly, physical activities have time and time again been a crucial factor that helps improve your wellbeing, reduce stress, and all that good stuff. You should incorporate getting up every hour to stretch your body or walk around the office so that you can get the blood circulating. Do this by setting the alarm to remind you that it’s time to stretch.
Your workstation can be as ergonomic as you want it to be, but nothing beats taking care of your health, especially working at a desk job with prolonged sitting.
By incorporating these factors can help you achieve that ergonomic workstation dream of yours. As everyone has their preference to make that work, it is solely up to you as highly customisable. Some may not want to include office plants because they fear that they might be neglected, while others may have 1 or 2 plants sitting with them.
We hope that sharing our findings with you can help you (and ourselves) lead a more ergonomic life.