Using computers has become an essential part of our lives these days, whether it’s at work or at home. Office working often entails long hours in front of a screen, bringing with it the familiar problems of muscle aches and repetitive strain injury. Do not take short cuts when you are setting up your work environment and avoid losing working time to staff illness and poorly arranged equipment.
Think first about your own natural posture; the easiest comparison is how you sit in a car. Car seats are ergonomically designed to support your posture and leave you free to move comfortably. You can apply broadly the same principles to your workstation.
Start with your keyboard. You should aim for the keyboard to be placed so that your elbows remain by your sides and with your arms slightly tilted down at an angle of just under 90 degrees. A slide out keyboard tray is often a good solution for this as it keeps the keyboard naturally in the right position. You should also check that your keyboard does not extend beyond the width of your shoulders, which may mean looking at a keyboard without number pads in some cases. Being aware of this combination of factors will reduce the muscle load when you are typing and prevent aches.
Now move on to your chair. Think back to the curve of your spine when you are in a natural posture and look for a chair that can achieve this with good lumbar support. The back and the seat height need to be fully adjustable and allow you to sit with your feet on the floor and your thighs slightly below your hips.
Regular breaks are a must – at least once every hour – so that you can get up and take a little exercise. There are sets of stretches that can help neck and shoulder aches. Regular breaks also help to keep you alert.
Finally, your workstation must be kind to your eyes. Breaks are also important here to relieve eye strain, but make sure too that monitors are placed at the correct height so that your eyes are in line with the address bar on a webpage.
You can reduce glare partly by installing ClearType, but it is particularly important to regulate lighting. Natural light is the best option for maintaining good morale and productivity, and shutters can ensure that the quantity and angle of light entering the workspace is optimised right through the day. Wooden window shutters give an instant aesthetic appeal and are also highly practical. They provide insulation and energy savings and are the most effective way to regulate the light falling on desks and computer monitors.
An ergonomic workstation is vital, but it’s not rocket science. Following these straightforward guidelines will save you time and money in the longer term and are essential to keeping staff comfortable and productive. Think carefully about the lighting and how this can best be controlled and angled.