First of all, what is ergonomics? Basically, ergonomics is the study of designing equipment to fit to the human body and human tasks. Ergonomics are most often used in conjunction with workplace safety and efficiency, while ergonomic designs are what make certain types of furniture safer to use than others.
In terms of office environment, ergonomics are important to your health and safety as you’re predominately sitting all day. Aches, pains, and a sore back are just the tip of the iceberg as repetitive motion syndrome causes more damage than you’d think. Thus, proper ergonomic design takes into consideration these kinds of effects on the human body and tries to reduce the related stress or injuries that can occur.
As 86% of office workers are uncomfortable and half of those consider their office setup to be the reason why, here are some ways to make desk work more comfy.
While a desk that is too small hinders your work flow, a too-large desk can cause problems as well. In addition to taking up office space, an oversized desk can cause strain on your body. Workers often place objects on the far corners or edges of their workstation and then have to fully extend their arm to reach, possibly injuring themselves when lifting the object. While not everyone can choose their desk, rearrange your workspace items to be closer, so you don’t have to strain to reach them.
An ideally ergonomic desk should also be adjustable to the user’s height. Most office desks are built for the average person in mind and are around 30 inches off the floor, but most workers are taller or shorter than average.
If you are working at a computer, keep in mind that the ideal height for your keyboard and mouse is 4 inches below desktop level. Likewise make sure your arms can hang comfortably at around a 90 degree angle while you are using your keyboard. Your monitor should be kept center to or slightly below eye level, and between 20 to 40 inches away from your face.
There are many parts to an ergonomic office chair, including arm rests, mobility, and cushioning. These all vary depending on your individual situation, but in general can apply to all.
Of these attributes, adjustable seat height is one of the most important as it’s often easier to adjust your chair than your desk. Your chair is most ergonomically positioned when your thighs are parallel to the ground and your feet are flat to the floor (or on a footrest).
Adjustable seat back and lumbar support are equally important. Not only should your chair have a forward enough angle to encourage good posture while sitting, but lumbar support reduces the strain on your spine by bolstering your lower back.
For those taller or bigger than average, an ergonomic chair should especially fit to your individual needs. Squeezing your larger frame into an average sized chair is a recipe for discomfort and possible injury, so investing in a heavy duty ergonomic office chair is an especially good idea.