Are you feeling tired from working from home? Are you perhaps suffering from back problems due to sitting for long hours? It might be because your workstation is not ergonomically correct. Here are some tips for an ergonomic office to prevent back pain and to enhance productivity.
So what about ergonomics? Why is it important to follow proper office ergonomics?
What About Ergonomics and Why Does It Matter?
Ergonomics is a science-based discipline that is used to describe the process of arranging and designing workplaces, products, and systems. This is to ensure that it fits the people who use them.
Rather than making people get used to working in a design that seems to be uncomfortable, ergonomists find ways on how a workplace or a system would suit the people who use them.
The goal of ergonomics is to provide a comfortable work environment that lessens back and neck problems and discomfort while working. This in turn helps improve productivity and efficiency since you can focus on your tasks better.
Since most of us are setting up our workstation, here are useful tips to help you set it up ergonomically.
Ergonomic Tips For Working At Home
Use a desk where you can comfortably move
Meaning, use a table where you have enough space to fit your knees, thighs, and feet underneath. We don’t want to bump into anything, right? A desk with the right height and enough space where you can place your things as well can contribute to your productivity.
Strategically placing your screen, gadgets, and frequently used items on your work table is part of ergonomics as well. Make sure that your screen/monitor is placed on your eye-level and your mouse and/or keyboard are placed where your arms are comfortably at rest. If you can, you can also opt to invest in a height-adjustable office table and armrests.
Invest in a good office chair
As much as possible, if you can, investing in a comfortable office chair that can support both your back and neck is highly recommended. But if you don’t have an office chair available, you can still use whatever chair is available at your house. Just make sure to use your resources at home like rolling your towel and putting it on your back for added lumbar support. And using a cushion to raise the seat height and for added comfort.
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Don’t use the couch as a workstation
Of course, sitting on the couch while working might sound like the most comfortable thing to do, but it is not. It doesn’t only make you feel like sleeping but it also might contribute to neck, bag, and leg pains. Sitting with your full legs in a vertical position might be comfortable but after a while, you might develop leg numbness or discomfort.
Good and neutral posture is key
Maintaining a neutral spine is the best way to prevent any sort of discomfort while working. Practicing a neutral posture is not just making your back straight. It is actually about allowing your back to stay in its natural curved state or S-shape.
Make sure that the small of your back is properly supported. You should relax your shoulders as well and your knees and legs should be in a comfortable position. You can also adjust the chair height and make sure your screen is aligned to your eye level to avoid slouching. In short, making sure that your body is relaxed and at ease is the way to go.
Make use of the 20/20/20 rule
Staring at the screen for long hours is tiring for the eyes as well and digital-related eye strain is a thing. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), spending hours a day using digital devices causes your vision to blur, and your eyes to feel achy and tired.
To prevent eye strain, it is important to rest your eyes for a while and follow the 20/20/20 rule. The idea is that after every 20 minutes of working, you have to rest your eyes for 20 seconds by looking at something else 20 feet away. Most preferably looking at something green or cool to the eyes is said to help you reduce eye strain.
Place your commonly used things within arm reach
In setting up an ergonomic workstation, it is also important to have all the things that you need within your reach or the neutral reach zone. Organizing your workstation in a way where you can get your frequently used items in a second won’t just make things easier but also helps in preventing muscle strain or soreness. Making sure that your working table effectively helps you work efficiently is the goal of ergonomics, as well.
Take small breaks
Of course, working for long hours tends to be boring which also affects your productivity. Taking small breaks in between isn’t so bad. Most especially since we are technically still at home, you can get easily distracted. Allowing yourself to stay away from your screen for a short while to release your stress and tension away by doing some stretches for the neck and back.
Some may think that taking breaks will take away the time wherein you should be working, but it’s not. In fact, according to a study, taking breaks in between to recharge can result in better productivity and reduce job-related strains.
Why Poor Ergonomics Will Cost You More?
Back, shoulder, and neck pain are a common thing almost all of us have experienced. This is especially common for those people whose work involves sitting for too long. And because muscle pain is a common thing, most people don’t take it seriously. They believe that doing a few stretches, resting, or taking pain-reliever pills would do but it is only temporary relief.
The more you ignore the signs, the more you allow yourself to be prone to risks or injuries that would cost you even more. Poor ergonomics can have a lot of negative impacts on you and your work. It will not just affect your productivity but also your overall health. And in turn, this might also affect the company.
According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), musculoskeletal disorders or ergonomic injuries amounts between $15 to $20 billion per year, with a total annual cost of $45 to $54 billion.
Practicing proper ergonomics even while working at home is as equally important as working in the office. It is technically an investment that benefits both you and the company you work at. Ergonomics not only increases productivity rate, improves the quality of your output, prevents musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) but also reduces overall company cost.