Happy Sunday everyone and welcome to my blog! I’m very excited to write my first post! If you’d like to know more about me, feel free to peruse my bio.
Like many of you, I work in an office. I sit in a chair and stare at a computer screen for at least eight hours a day, sometimes more. That’s a third of the day! Spending so much time in one position, we have to be sure that we have optimized our work space for our comfort and health. Most employers, including mine, take ergonomics very seriously and are more than willing to make sure you are comfortable in your work space.
Despite all the attention this topic has been receiving lately, there’s a lot of misconceptions regarding ergonomics. Since we’re all different, what works for one might not work for another, but there are a few things you can look at to ensure you’re getting the most out of your work space.
1) Chair selection
Much has been made out of having the proper chair. Keep in mind: office furniture sales are big business. Promoting a chair as “posture-improving” is a great sales pitch, especially as companies tend to order these items in bulk. In my experience, you don’t need a chair like this in order to be comfortable at your desk:
I always opt for a chair that is very adjustable. Again, we’re all different, so it makes sense we should have to take some time to properly adjust the chair to fit our individual needs. Make sure you can adjust the lumbar support, the chair height, the armrest height, the seat tilt, the pitch or angle of the backrest and make sure the backrest is lockable. Most importantly, ensure the chair is comfortable. If, after 20 minutes, your rear has gone numb from a lack of padding or you are noticing how difficult it is just to sit there, look at adjusting the chair or getting a different one.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has a great article about how to properly set up your office chair.
2) Positioning the computer screen/keyboard/mouse
This will take some time to figure out, but if you’re consistently having to lean in or hunch over to do your work, your monitor is too far away. Comfort is key here once again. I try and make sure my hands can rest easily on the keyboard, and I turn up the sensitivity of my mouse so I don’t have to move it as much when using it. If you find your wrists are hurting, especially in your mouse hand, speak to a healthcare professional and/or take a look at some of the support options out there, like mouse pads with wrist support pillows.
3) Stay active and alert
I find I become uncomfortable in my chair when I’ve had a long day or I’m just tired. To combat this, I try to make sure I spend no more than 30 minutes at a time seated. Take a break, stand up, stretch a little, take a little walk to the printer/water fountain/washroom. Everyone in my office can tell you I’m only too happy to run to the printer for them! If I’m working late and am feeling drowsy, I’ll have a sugar-free energy drink to perk myself up and stay active. While not the healthiest choice, it does help me to stay upright, alert and comfortable.
4) Stay hydrated and eat well
This ties into the last item. Part of the reason we can start to feel drowsy is that we’re not drinking enough fluids or ingesting enough fuel. I always have some water nearby and take drinks at regular intervals. It’s easy to skip meals during a busy day, so to stay energized I keep a few zip-lock bags in my desk with cereal and trail mix in them. These things don’t really go bad, and it’s easy enough to throw a handful of Cheerios into my mouth between meetings. Fresh fruit and vegetables are also a good option, but only if you have a nearby fridge to keep them chilled. I stay away from anything high in sugar like packaged energy bars and snacks, as well as coffee shop fare like bagels and muffins. They give me a huge sugar boost that always translates into a huge sugar crash later on in the day.
If you’re concerned about how healthy your workstation is, speak to your doctor and/or to your HR department. Many companies now employ ergonomics professionals to help employees feel comfortable as they work. This is good for the company as it can reduce workplace injury while making employees happier, resulting in increased productivity and job satisfaction. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety is another great resource.
Thanks for reading everyone! I’ll update you on my progress during the week. Stay active and all the best!