Clare Kumar: Fast fixes for a comfortable workstation

 

When visiting a client to help organize their office I am often asked to help with piles of paper, overflowing inboxes, and stuffed storage. Trained in workstation ergonomics, I cannot help but notice that a large percentage of clients are suffering from poor workstation set-ups. In many cases, people are simply unaware of how to improve it. In other cases, employers may be afraid to bring in consultants to assess ergonomics for fear of a long, expensive list of modifications. In my experience, there are often some quick and inexpensive adjustments which can be made to dramatically improve comfort.

 

1. Adjust your chair

 

Today's office chairs come with numerous adjustments to configure seat height, tilt, back rigidity, height lumbar support, and the width and sometimes angle of armrests. Why?  Because the amount of time we spend sitting - not a normal human posture for extended periods - requires that we support out bodies to sustain good postures. If your chair has levers - spending a few minutes figuring out what they do and you could put yourself in a much more productive position. If you share the chair with others make sure to return settings to your preferences, just as you would the driver’s seat in a car.

 

2. Move your monitor

 

With the proliferation of laptops, and now tablets, the familiar combination of desktop, keyboard, monitor, and mouse, is quickly disappearing. In fact, I'm typing this on an iPad in a cafe. I’m trading off a boost in productivity (due to the forced need to focus in a café) with the much slower typing speed I can achieve on the iPad. But, I digress. Two others in the care are on laptops, one with quite good posture, the other, however, in a massage necessitating hunch over her keyboard. This is not uncommon.  Pay attention to the placement of your monitor to preserve neutral neck alignment (no twists or bends) and avoid neck tension, stretched back and tight, shortened chest muscles. If working with a laptop, add a laptop stand to raise the screen to a suitable viewing height. This will put the keyboard in a no-go zone, so you will want to add a separate keyboard and mouse for any lengthy work.

 

3. Slip in a footrest

 

To position yourself at the correct height for writing at your desk (higher) or typing on a keyboard (lower), a footrest can come in handy. By being able to place your feet flat on the floor and sitting right to the back of your chair, your lower back will be positioned correctly to take advantage of the chair's support. Use the combo of raising and lowering your chair, coupled with your footrest to keep your wrists happy (again, no bends or twists) while working.


What simple fixes will you make to boost your productivity?

 

Note: If you are experiencing discomfort, do not ignore it. Check in with your health practitioner to avoid the risk of permanent damage.

 

 

By Adam

November 23, 2012