Ergonomics in the office: the need of the moment
“Good morning, Mr. Ripper.“
“Hello Bob!” the boss said.
“Well, go to your perfect office while I suffer in this dump.thought Bob, the hardworking clerk.
Bob smiled. He knew what awaited him in his office. A crowded chair, a keyboard that forces you to stretch if you have to type on it, a creaking wooden floor, and plants that don’t motivate you at all. He was clearly a garbage man.
Do you know what Bob lacks? Is it motivation? Or maybe an imagination? probably correct office ergonomics.
What is ergonomics in the office??
Ergonomics is the study of how your body retracts into its environment.
Office ergonomics is the study of the relationship between the worker and the workplace.
You may think you are working too hard. You may feel tired at the end of the day. But if you sit at a desk all day, your life is sedentary. This lifestyle has a huge impact on your health, both physically and mentally. Uncomfortable chairs, low desks, little space between your desk items, and the office environment all play a role when it comes to office ergonomics.
Poor ergonomics in the office not only affects your health, but also your business. And everyone wants health or wealth, sometimes both. Now imagine if you can’t have any.
If you’re still not convinced, here are some stats:
1. The average adult spends 50% to 80% of the day sitting at work.
2. 2/3 of working class people are overweight.
3. Back pain is one of the top ten reasons for disability.
4. Musculoskeletal disorders are high for the working class.
5. In half of office workers, 16% complained of severe pain at the end of the day.
6. A worker spends more than 1500 hours in front of a computer.
You don’t have to worry too much because most companies take ergonomics in the office very seriously. When ergonomic risk factors are eliminated, employees have maximum productivity and that in turn benefits the company.
Many companies hire an EHS (Environmental, Health and Safety) team, who take care of employee comfort and benefits.
If you think, how you sit and where the mouse is placed or even where the files are saved doesn’t matter, then think again.
Here are some guidelines on how to use office equipment to your advantage:
1. Your throne (aka your chair): The height and width of the chair matter. The height should be such that your feet are comfortably placed on the ground. Your knees should be level with your hips. If your chair doesn’t provide lumbar support, place a cushion in the curve of your lower back. Your elbows should be above the level of the desk. An easier way is to buy a chair that supports your lower back, has an adjustable armrest, footrest, and tilt function. If you don’t have a footrest, get creative with a stool or a stack of books.
2. The rodent problem (your mouse basically): Your mouse needs to be placed on the same level as your keyboard. When you use the mouse, your wrist should be straight and relaxed, not bent or twisted to any side. you can use a wrist rest if required. Keep your shoulders relaxed. If you’re taking a break, rest your hands on your palms, but never on your wrist.
3. Your monitor (no fancy names): The level at which your monitor is placed matters. It should be placed directly in front of you, not in the corner or on top of you. It should be within arm’s reach, about 18 to 30 inches away. The top circumference of the monitor should be slightly above your eye level. Try and select a monitor that reduces glare. Otherwise, turn off the lights that are causing the glare or close the curtains. Try to place the monitor next to the bright source.
4. Posture (or your gait): This is an obvious guess. Straight. You must sit up straight. Not only that, but center your body on the monitor and keyboard. Try not to cross your legs. Instead, place it on the footrest. Your thighs and elbows should be parallel to the ground while resting. Your desk should be of a certain size and height so that you have room to move your legs freely. Don’t keep anything under your desk. It creates clutter and discomfort in the lower body.
5. Essentials (like stapler, glue, and pens): Keep these essentials close by. Make sure you don’t have to stretch to pick them up. If so, always get up and receive it. Don’t strain. Use a headset, so you don’t have to strain to pick up a phone.
Some more guidelines regarding ergonomics in the office:
1. Do not press your elbow or hands on sharp objects on your seat.
2. Give your eyes a break by gently massaging them or looking at something distant.
3. Adjust the brightness of your screen according to your comfort.
4. Walk around your office. It does not sit for a long time.
5. Place plants, potpourri, or even photos of family or friends. It is always meant to make you feel better.
6. You can always work out in your cabinet or office. Try stretching.
7. Try to use all of your muscle groups as you work. Be imaginative.
There are many online platforms that offer ergonomic furniture such as ergonomic chairs and keyboards.
The guidelines mentioned above are conventional. Ergonomics have taken a modern turn. I like the following:
1. The conventional method says to place the monitor 18-30 inches away, but you should place it as far away as you prefer as long as you can see the content clearly.
2. The conventional method suggests that you place the keyboard close to you. But that’s unnecessary, as long as your elbow and wrist are well supported, you can place it any distance you like.
3. The conventional method says to keep the mouse away but practically keep it close to you. If it’s near the keyboard, then it’s the best placement option.
4. The conventional method says to keep the monitor a little above or at eye level. This is fine, but some find it more comfortable to put it underneath. So find what suits you best.
5. The conventional method says that a straight and constant posture is final. But a change of posture is always better than a constant pose. Don’t slouch but sit up straight. Find the posture that works best for you, and again, don’t slouch.
There you have it, simple yet efficient ways to make your professional life more comfortable and bearable. You have the conventional method and you have the modern method. Find what suits you best.
Office ergonomics is a broad platform. There are ongoing debates about whether or not their guidelines are effective. It may seem limiting, but it had many positive effects on his health. If you’re the boss, then remember that a healthy, happy employee is likely to stick around and treat you better than someone else.
Happy ergonomics to you!