According to a study, the average adult spends 50–60% of their day sitting or lying down. Many people don’t realize how simply working behind a desk can cause major health issues including musculoskeletal disorders. By creating a standard and comfortable workplace setup and some practices, these problems could be avoided in the first place. These adjustments can not only prevent discomfort but can also increase the productivity of individuals. Ergonomics is the answer to these problems.
As stated by the International Ergonomics Association, “Ergonomics is 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 optimize human well-being and overall system performance.” In other words, the main goal of ergonomics is to reduce work-related hazards and risks. There are mainly three domains of ergonomics: physical, cognitive, and organizational. Physical ergonomics is the main domain we will be discussing today which is related to the way the physical environment affects physical activity specifically in the workplace. Forceful labor, repetitive work, and awkward postures are risk factors that can harm the body.
How to set up a comfortable office at home?
Find a comfortable and quiet place, preferably away from distractions and resting areas to be able to balance work and life. Add privacy to your home office, whether it’s a divider, curtain or door try to separate your work from the rest of the house.
Avoid putting the monitor near the windows, since the contrast between the screen brightness and the natural light may cause discomfort. It’s also important to adjust the screen lighting throughout the day. Using a good glass anti-glare screen to prevent eye strain.
The monitor should be placed directly in front and approximately an arm’s length away from the person. Locating the monitor at about 15 degrees below the horizontal line of the viewer’s eyes is suitable. This placing creates a preferable visual zone of 30 degrees.
Dr. Alan Hedge, professor and ergonomist, has stated “When you are seated comfortably, a user’s eyes should be in line with a point on the screen about 2-3″ below the top of the monitor casing. Sit back in your chair at an angle of around 100-110 degrees and hold your right arm out horizontally, your middle finger should almost touch the center of the screen. From that starting position, you can then make minor changes to screen height and angle to suit. Research shows the center of the monitor should be about 17-18 degrees below horizontal for optimal viewing, and this is where it will be if you follow the simple arm extension/finger pointing tip. You actually see more visual field below the horizon than above this, so at this position, the user should comfortably be able to see more of the screen. If the monitor is too low, you will crane their neck forwards, if it’s too high you’ll tilt their head backward and end up with neck/shoulder pain.”
Both the keyboard and the mouse should be positioned in front and in line with the forearms at elbow height (arms should not be extended beyond 45 degrees). With this placement, the shoulders can be relaxed and close to the body. Ensure the wrists are straight and there’s enough room to support the wrists. The mouse and keyboard should be placed close to each other and around 5cm from the edge of the desk to avoid overreaching. Using laptops for an extended amount of time isn’t recommended, if necessary use an external mouse and keyboard.
The chair’s height should be adjustable and have a 5 pedestal base. It should also provide comfortable lumbar support to stop slouching. The best posture while sitting in a reclined posture of 100-110 degrees. Chair armrests are optional. They can be good for occasionally resting arms however, it is not recommended to rely on them while typing. If the chair does not offer suitable adjustments and the feet remain dangling in the air, a footrest is suggested. The thighs should be parallel to the flower with the knees being slightly lower than the waist. The seat pan should provide a fist-width to three-finger gap between the back of the calf and the front edge of the seat.
Avoid slouching, craning the neck forward, overreaching, and straining eyes. Make sure the posture feels comfortable. Regular movement is crucial to avoid muscle cramps. Make sure to take a break 2-3 times during an hour. Tension-relieving exercises are recommended. Additionally, follow the 20-20-20 rule to give your eyes a break. This rule consists of looking at something aside from the screen 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
Create a peaceful environment:
Personalize your workplace! Adjust the temperature, improve the atmosphere with plants and background music, use lamps, and natural lighting to boost your productivity and mood. According to a study by Stephanie Lichtenfeld, glimpses of the color green enhances creativity therefore utilize this color in your office. Remember to dedicate storage options to avoid clutter on your desk.
With remote working becoming the norm, creating a suitable home office is a must for employees therefore by following these tips you can decrease your fatigue, strain, and physical injuries while improving your productivity.