Easy ways to be healthier and more comfortable in your office
40% of Americans in the labor force now work in front of a computer—and many underestimate the short and long-term health risks of an unhealthy office environment. Nerve damage, repetitive strain injury, varicose veins, neck and back injuries, and other serious health problems can result from extended time spent in a non-ergonomic office. Here are some ways to make your office a safer place to work.
1. Your Monitor
Your monitor needs to be set at a level where you can look at it without stooping or straining. Most ergonomic experts recommend keeping the monitor at least 20 inches away, with the top of the screen at or below your eye level. The display may also be pitched at an unnatural angle–if you find yourself leaning back or bending over to see your screen better, you should adjust the monitor rather than your posture.
2. Your chair
If you work full-time in front of a computer, you’ll spend roughly 10% of your life in the office—so it’s worth investing in a decent office chair, since you’ll be there a while. Make sure the seat is the right size for your body—if it’s too short, you’ll put pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in your thighs, and if it’s too long, you won’t be able to lean back directly against the support. Your chair needs more than a small pad for your back—it should provide full cushion for your lumbar spine (lower back). You also want adjustable armrests and seat height, so you can rest your feet flat on the floor, with your thighs parallel to the seat. Buy a chair with full lumbar support and wide, cushioned armrests, and test it out. If you experience aching or numbness after an hour or two, look for a better fit.
3. Your desk
Your office desk should be about 24 to 27 inches off the ground; high enough for your office chair armrests to slide under, but low enough that you can keep your elbows comfortably bent while you type, and you’re able to position your monitor at a comfortable eye level. The most ergonomic desks include a rolling adjustable tray for your keyboard and mouse, so you can customize to find the position that’s most comfortable for you. Particularly if you’re a business owner shopping for office equipment for your employees, investing in adjustable desks will make everyone a lot more comfortable.
4. Your keyboard
Gimmicky, hard-to-use keyboards often profess to be ergonomic, but your comfort has more to do with the height and placement of the keyboard than its actual design. Your keyboard should be directly in front of you as you type, with your shoulders relaxed and your wrists straight. You shouldn’t have to shrug your shoulders or bend your wrists—this can lead to repetitive strain injuries and soreness at the end of the day. If you try an “ergonomic keyboard” and it works for you, go with it—but if your hand position feels awkward or unnatural, stick to a standard keyboard.
5. Your laptop
Laptop computers present an ergonomic challenge because the keyboard and display cannot be independently adjusted, so you end up stooping down to see the monitor or bending your wrists to type. If you use a laptop in your everyday office work, consider installing a plug-and-play keyboard and mouse so you can use it more like a desktop computer, customizing the keyboard and display position for optimum comfort.
About The Author
Gina M Casillo is a staff writer for Serenity Living Stores, your choice place to buy an Eames chair. She enjoys writing about home décor—especially when it comes to the spaces she’s most intimate with—decorating the perfect play spaces and bedrooms for her two active twin boys, and decorating the ideal work sanctuary. You will often find Gina tucked away in her cozy home office concentrating on her favorite pastimes, which are writing and blogging about interior design, and seeking inspiration from the world’s most famous household goddess: Martha Stewart.