How to Create an Ergonomically Friendly School and Work Station at Home

School’s officially out, making it a great time to reset and start gearing up for another successful year. While backpacks, notebooks and other back-to-school essentials may be top of mind, it’s important not to forget the importance of having a dedicated workspace when working and learning from anywhere.

It isn’t uncommon for families to share a set up, but how do you create a workspace that’s accessible for everyone? Marnie Downey, Canadian Certified Professional Ergonomist and President of ERGO Inc, shares her tips on how to optimize a station for double the duty.

What to look for

“The more adjustable furniture is, the better the workspace will be able to accommodate the differences in size and height between parents and their kids,” says Downey.

For shared workspaces, she recommends a height-adjustable desk that can go low enough for a child, but high enough for the tallest member in your family. If this isn’t an option for you, try adding a keyboard tray that will allow the desk to sit lower. You’ll also want a height adjustable, ergonomic task chair: “This will let you raise your child up to a good working height so they can type with their arms at their side,” says Downey. 

How to set up an ergonomic workspace that works for everyone

Desk: If you do opt for an adjustable desk, ensure that it’s set at the right height for the person who is going to use it next.

Chair: Just like the desk, you’ll want to adjust your chair as well. For both adults and kids, it’s important that feet are supported so thighs can be horizontal and parallel to the floor. Adults might want to support their feet with a footrest, while kids might need something a little higher — like a box or a step stool. Depending on the chair, you might also need to add extra back support for your kid to help fill in the space.

Monitor: Keep your screen at eye level. For adults, this might mean adjusting the height of the monitor or propping your laptop on a riser or stand. For kids, it might mean moving the monitor off the riser and positioning it as low on the desk as possible. “Monitors should be no more than an arm’s length away, so kids don’t have to lean forward to view it,” says Downey.

Keyboard and mouse: For both adults and kids, the keyboard and mouse should be positioned at elbow height and wrists should be straight when using the tools. Ensure that the mouse is right next to the keyboard so it’s easy to reach.

The dos and don’ts of ergonomics for kids

DO buy smaller tech tools. “Children have smaller hands, therefore you should consider a small-sized mouse so they do not have to spread their fingers too wide,” says Downey. To ensure they’re comfortable, you’ll also want to invest in smaller headphones as well.

DO make sure your kid takes movement breaks after 30 minutes of computer time.

DON’T position the main monitor to the side. “Children should not have to bend their necks to look at the computer screen,” says Downey. “The monitor should be adjusted to eye level and be positioned directly in front of them.”

DON’T share a desk with your kid if they’re too small. It’s easier for preschoolers to sit with good posture at a kids’ table.

By Staples Canada

August 09, 2021