Most of the time when I am at work you will find me seated in front of my computer. In the past this would have caused me a great deal of discomfort, you might say “seated discomfort.” But fortunately I have taken some steps to get me within my comfort zone while at work. Seated Discomfort can be caused by any number of issues from poor or lack of knowledge on how to set up your chair to improper positioning of task related objects and materials.
Many people are often so eager to sit down and start using their new chair or other piece of equipment at their workstation that they pay little or no attention to how it works. While the way each person works may be different, the tools they use daily are fairly universal. We might agree that the chair, computer (often times laptop), keyboard, mouse, desk lamp, telephone, and files/cabinets are among the most common items used on a daily bases. Each item may be slightly different, however it’s important to take the time and learn how to properly adjust and place these items to maximize your comfort and productivity.
Let’s take a closer look at seating/chairs and how to get comfortable. We already mentioned that you should spend time learning what features your chair has and how to adjust them to fit your needs. This can be overwhelming given that many of today’s office chairs come with features like lumbar support; articulating arm rests that move front to back, are width adjustable and pivot left and right; seat pan adjustments; and tilt / recline adjustments. In addition to setting up your chair properly,
- take frequent breaks and stand, take a short walk and stretch;
- follow the 20/20/20 rule – every 20 minutes take a break from computer work and stare at an object 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds. This helps relieve eye strain.
- make sure your feet are flat on floor;
- there is space between the back of your knees and the front of the chair;
- and your thighs comfortably clear under the work surface.
- consider setting up the work station as a “sit-stand” solution but using a height adjustable desk; combining a sit-stand monitor arm with a sit-stand keyboard tray or scissor lift.
Proper use and placement of computers, keyboard, mouse and other task related items could make a large impact on your comfort and productivity levels. Placing your monitor too far or too close to you can cause eye, neck and shoulder strain. As a general rule your monitor should be an arm’s length in front of you and your eyes should be even with two to three inches below the top of the monitor casing. Use of a monitor arm will go along way towards reducing strain and freeing up space on your work surface.
You want your keyboard and mouse to be as close together as possible at a height that causes your elbows to be bent at or near a 90-degree angle. The keyboard and mouse should be on a surface that is flat or has a slight negative decline.
Finally, all your task related objects that you use throughout the day should be placed within your optimal reach and focal zone. Unnecessary reaching, bending, twisting and turning can cause discomfort and undue strain. By arranging your everyday items within easy reach you will reduce strain, pain and increase your productivity. Using a beam mounted on your work surface allows you to position task related items easily and again frees up space on your desk.
Taking a few precautions today will save you much pain and suffer down the road. Nobody wants to have back pain, eye, neck and should strain and repetitive stress injuries or carpal tunnel syndrome. These changes to my work environment have made a world of difference in my comfort and productivity at work. I am sure they will help you as well.
Special thanks to our friends at SpaceCo Business Solutions for allowing us use of their videos.