Improper ergonomics in the office is an enormous issue confronting both employees and business owners. Not only can a poorly designed office arrangement result in discomfort and annoyance, but some violations of the rules of proper ergonomics could result in more serious health issues, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. What’s more, these physical symptoms could also manifest themselves in the form of employee disgruntlement and decreased productivity. Below you will find the top three tips for fixing poor ergonomics:
1. Change the position of your monitor.
Although conventional ergonomics advice dictates that your computer monitor should be between eighteen and twenty-four inches away from you, it is actually best for your monitor to be as far away as possible. The words on the screen should still remain comfortably visible, of course, but if you are capable of clearly seeing the screen from more than twenty-four inches away from your face, then by all means, position it as such. Additionally, the common advice regarding the height of your computer screen is also a misconception. Whereas experts once recommended that the top of your screen be positioned at eye level, it is now known that this height should actually be the highest level for your screen. Ideally, you should position your monitor as low as possible (with the top no higher than eye level) while still remaining comfortably visible while seated in a normal position.
2. Reposition your keyboard.
Although most people are aware of the issues associated with improper keyboard use, few people are knowledgeable about how to correct their keyboard problems. First, when typing on your keyboard, your wrists should remain straight with your forearms positioned roughly parallel to the ground. Many people believe that their keyboards should be as close to the edge of their desk as possible, but it is in fact acceptable to push your keyboard back farther on your desk, as long as your elbows are not then resting uncomfortably and as long as a pushed back keyboard still allows your wrists and forearms to remain in the proper position.
Wrist rests are another common offender of keyboard ergonomics. Most people believe that their wrist wrests will help to save them from the dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome; in actuality, however, their wrist rests could be increasing their odds of developing it, because, while wrists rests can be beneficial, they should not be used constantly. Wrists rests tend to place undue pressure on the carpal tunnel (which is located on the underside of the wrist beneath the palm), which could potentially lead to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. The use of these rests should therefore be restricted to resting periods whenever possible or unless advised otherwise by a medical professional.
3. Change position frequently.
Despite ergonomics articles’ tendency to recommend a specific sitting position, there is no such thing as a single perfect posture. The best posture for you to use while working at your computer is the posture in which you are most comfortable. Although there are certain obvious things to avoid (craning your neck, slouching, etc.) and certain positions that are preferable over others (sitting with a wide hip angle, planting your feet, etc.), the only steadfast rule for posture in ergonomics is to change your position frequently. Sitting too long in any one position could cause stiffness and eventually overuse of certain muscles, so make an effort to stand, stretch, and move about on a regular basis throughout the day.
Proper office ergonomics make for more comfortable employees, and that, in turn, could improve the overall functionality of your company. For more advice on ergonomics, consult a licensed physical therapist or other medical professional for tips.