A safe and healthy work environment is a productive work environment. Poor ergonomic practices can lead to lower productivity and in extreme cases physical injury, which is obviously bad for business. Especially now since majority of us are working from home, we do not have the privilege of working an in office where the company has designed our working stations with ergonomics in mind.
However, we can actively keep in mind proper ergonomics even when working from home. Here are 5 ways to create a healthy, productive, and ergonomic working environment.
1. Good working posture
Whether employees are working on the factory floor or in the corporate office, the number one ergonomic priority is establishing a good working posture at their workstation. They should be able to sit or stand in a neutral body position with a relaxed posture that requires no stressful angles or excessive reaching to complete tasks.
Office workers should sit with hands, wrists, and forearms that are straight, inline, and parallel to the floor. The head should be level, facing forward with no turn to the left or right, and generally be in line with the torso.
Standing at the workstation is also recommended and potentially ergonomically sound, assuming employees stand straight and their arms and wrists remain in the neutral position. Standing is a good counterpoint to sitting for long periods.
2. Proper display height and distance
Monitors and other display devices should be placed at eye level with the individual using them. Viewing a display should not require straining of the neck nor squinting of the eyes. Ergonomics dictates that individuals not be required to turn their neck to the left, right, up, or down to view a display. This principle applies to individuals with the conventional single monitor and power users employing multiple displays as well.
3. Keyboard and mice position
While often ergonomic afterthoughts, the proper keyboard and mouse configuration is just as important as posture when it comes to neutral body positioning. If individuals are reaching for the mouse at a bad angle or have to violate the inline parallel rule for elbows and wrists, they are going to lose neutral positioning. Reaching for input devices can lead to excessive fatigue, and after lengthy exposure, injury.
Keyboards and mice should be placed where they can be accessed without breaking any of the neutral positioning rules. In addition, both devices should be tailored for the person using them. This may require adjustable devices or perhaps different devices for different users. Flexibility is the key.
4. Looking around
Looking at a computer display all day long can cause noticeable eye fatigue. To reduce the stress on the eyes, workers should systematically look away from the monitor every 10 to 20 minutes or so to focus on something more than 20 feet away. The clock on the wall, the tree outside the window–anything will do. Changing focus to something in the distance will cause the eyes to adjust and give the close-in focus muscles a chance to relax.
5. Ergonomic accessories footrest, headsets, document holder, and ball
Over the years, office equipment suppliers have developed ergonomic accessories to help enterprises and individuals improve their work spaces. Smaller individuals may benefit from a footrest when workstation desks are not adjustable, for example.
Those who are required to talk on a phone all day will require a headset to free their hands and save their neck. Individuals required to read printed documents are likely to need a document holder, preferably adjustable, and perhaps task lighting as well. Some individuals swear by the benefits of a balance ball chair.