For many of us, working at a desk (whether in a company office or at home) is a standard part of our jobs. But is your office set up in a way that works for you? That’s where ergonomics can help!
Have you ever noticed how a comfortable chair helps you feel more relaxed, more focused, and less sore afterward? Well, science shows that an office environment that is set up to meet a worker’s physical needs helps prevent injuries that can be caused by awkward posture. In fact, one study noted that providing ergonomically acceptable workstations and seating helped improve productivity by 15%.
As you can imagine there are lots of areas to consider in workspace ergonomics, like what equipment to use and how best to set it up. The reality is that ergonomics is about you, what you have available, and the alternative solutions you can use if you need to try something different. Ergonomics also includes how you take care of your body with breaks, movements, and more.
First, keep these main considerations in mind:
- Your posture: how you stand or sit and what pressure you feel in your body
- Repetition: the number of times a movement is repeated
- Time: The length of time someone performs a task
- General environment: how warm or cold the room is and the lighting
Next, consider your workspace equipment:
- Work surface: Traditional desk, adjustable desk, table, or countertop
- Seat: Traditional chair, adjustable chair, or something else
- Technology: Laptop, desktop computer, keyboard, mouse, monitor, docking station, tablet, or stylus
Breaking down ergonomics
Posture Scan: Standing and Seated
Start with a Posture Scan, or the way you measure your neutral posture and how your posture makes your body feel. It’s also great to check your posture during your workday to see how your body is doing. A neutral posture allows our bodies to be in the best position, with fewer forces and more opportunities for our muscles, joints, blood vessels, and nerves to be in good positions. Learn how you can conduct your own posture scan.
Setting up your workspace
Next, we’re going to build upon what you learned from your Posture Scan by setting up your workspace to meet your needs. If you need support for this next part, see if you can have a second person observe your posture. Alternatively, put a mirror next to you, so you can observe yourself. Check out these simple ways to adjust your workspace to make it work for you.
Moving, stretching, and massages
Another key part of ergonomics is moving your body. Even with a workspace that supports your ideal position, we need movement to nourish our bodies. These movements, stretches, and self-massages are great preventative measures you can incorporate into your self-care routine.
Choose movements that work for you, whether it’s moving just a little or a lot, seated or standing, and for as many times as you want. As you build your routine, don’t forget to stretch to help reduce tension. Also, consider giving yourself a massage as another way to relieve tension and bring back blood flow to a certain area. Find out what you can add to your routine.