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8 Simple Steps to Set Up Your Ergonomic Workspace
If you’re part of the 42% of Americans who are now working remotely at least part of the time, you’ve probably been hearing that you need to make sure your workspace is “ergonomic.”
Sure, you know you probably shouldn’t be working on your couch. Or maybe you’ve developed back pain from working at the kitchen counter for the past few months. Still, even the word “ergonomics” itself is a bit intimidating, and sometimes it feels like too much work to overhaul the way you’re used to doing things.
As part of Ergonomics Awareness Month, we’re taking a look at how we can easily employ the principles of ergonomics to increase efficiency and productivity while reducing discomfort.
So, get ready to analyze your current work area and make some changes!
Utilizing these 8 simple solutions for setting up your ergonomic workspace will leave you feeling energized instead of drained.
#1 Move Your Mouse (And Move Your Hands Less)
One of the best ways to guard against work-induced wrist problems such as carpal tunnel is to switch up the hand you use to operate your mouse once in a while. There’s no need to become fully ambidextrous on your mouse (although, you might!), but even giving your dominant wrist a rest for a little while each day will help protect it. Reducing how much your hands move also helps relieve your wrists, so use keyboard shortcuts as often as possible and adjust your mouse’s sensitivity if possible to the lightest touch.
#2 Dial in Your Keyboard Position
Your keyboard, like your mouse, should be positioned so that your elbows are at your side at a 90-degree angle. This is the proper position to reduce strain and muscle load. Your keyboard should be 1 to 2 inches above your thighs (hence the invention of pull-out keyboard trays). And, ideally, your keyboard should be tilted down and away from you so that your arms and hands follow the downward slope of your thighs. Both your keyboard and mouse should be as level as possible.
#3 Keep Everything Within Reach
Remember, ergonomics is just as much about efficiency as it is about body positioning. Keep everything that you need for work within reach - your phone, printer, documents, etc. We don’t realize how much straining we do while trying to multitask at our desks, like when reaching for our chargers. If you can’t reach something comfortably, stand up to get it.
#4 Use Headphones or a Speaker
If you talk on the phone for work frequently, free up your hands (especially if you need to type or write at the same time). Do not cradle the phone between your head and shoulder, which strains your neck.
#5 Use a Footrest!
Footrests are as overlooked as they are vital for an ergonomic workspace. Your feet should rest flat on the floor as you work. If they don’t, get a footrest. You can make your own footrest from a stack of books or a short stool.
#6 Deconstruct Your Desk
… but not literally. Instead, analyze your desk. Is there enough clearance for your knees, thighs, and feet? If it’s too low and non-adjustable, raise it using boards or blocks. If it’s too high, raise your chair (then use a footrest). Protect yourself from a desk with an uncomfortable hard edge by using padding or a wrist rest. Lastly, your workspace is not a storage space; keep the space under your desk free.
#7 Measure Your Monitor
Your monitor should be directly in front of you at about an arm’s length to protect against "turtling," or craning your neck. It’s really easy to measure the perfect position; simply sit back and extend your arm. If the tips of your middle finger land on your screen, you’ve hit the sweet spot. The monitor should be placed directly behind your keyboard.
The top of the screen should be at or slightly below eye level. Test this by closing your eyes and seeing where they land when you open them; your eyes should land on the address bar on your browser. If you wear bifocals, your monitor should be an additional 1 to 2 inches lower. Your monitor should also be tilted slightly down towards you in order to avoid reflections.
#8 Choose Your Chair Wisely
Your chair is the single most important component of an ergonomic workspace.
You need a chair that will support your spine’s curve and your bottom. The height of your chair should be set so that your feet are flat on the floor or on a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor. The armests should be positioned so that your arms rest on them gently when your shoulders are relaxed, and you should sit back in your chair so that your back is supported.
However, even if you take all these precautions in order to attempt ergonomics, the truth is that it’s simply impossible to sit in a way that is not harmful for long periods of time in 99% of chairs.
In order to achieve a truly ergonomic workspace, you need a truly ergonomic chair. The BackStrong C1 is the only chair on the market designed with Sit-in-Motion Technology, which means that it moves with you to actively support all 33 vertebrae of your spine.
Unlike other chairs which have static sit posts and lock your body into un-ergonomic positions, the BackStrong C1 automatically sets your body in an ergonomic posture, so that you don’t even have to think about it.