Ergonomically Assess Your Own Home Office Workspace

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Your Body is a Temple!

Well that’s what I tell my wife… sorry girls, taken! It truly is the best tool you’ll ever own, so look after it. You might be thinking, “I’m not bungy jumping here, just quietly sitting at my desk doing my work.” And, like many other folks that are working from home, or browsing the internet, researching their next book… sure you get the idea. You are all spending time sat there, probably more time than you realise. Do you get up, let out a small groan? Well, if you’re in your twentys then that’s not a good sign. For the rest of us, that are marginally out of our twentys, errhhhummm… I guess its the norm. Noticed it getting worse? Well if so, it could be time to re-assess the whole deal!

The impacts of being immobile for long periods of time sat at a desk are probably more severe than you would think, though you will likely be aware that the more sedentary your life is, the more you will run the risk of experiencing health problems. I’m not going to discuss your aerobic fitness here – you’d have Googled for some fitness site if that’s what you wanted! I’m going to discuss the relationship you, your body in fact, has with the surroundings of your desk. Your home office, your work office, the same applies where you are sat, or maybe standing… whilst interacting with a computer, monitors and their other peripheral devices – that’s keyboards, mice, computer speakers, docking stations, etc.

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Standing you say! Yep, you can do the normal ‘office thing’ while standing, something that is increasingly popular for home and office workers alike. Advocates of standing desks claim it can reduce back and neck pain – I know, I do it too! I do love to sit in a good chair though! Is that like being loyal to the Packers and the Vikings? There are many health benefits that come with standing more than sitting, though for me its about finding a balance, everybody will be different with their own their own preferences – it’s about finding yours.

If you are still here, and haven’t fallen into a slumber in your chair, then keep reading as I’ve added in a checklist that you can use to do a review on your own home, or office set-up. It is geared to those that are sat down down in a more ‘office’ based scenario where they are required to work, or at least be at that station for prolonged periods of time. It may be this describes you in your work place, be that working from home or an office.

If you are employed in an office, then your employer should perform assessments to ensure you have the equipment you need to do your job comfortably and safely.

Let’s begin…

Your Chair Ergonomic and Comfort Checks

Almost certainly the most important component of your office set-up. If you have the wrong one to suit your ergonomic requirements, then you are going to find yourself feeling uncomfortable and suffering from fatigue faster. So spend some time choosing the best ergonomic chair for you!

CheckWhat to CheckYou Can RemedyYou Cannot Remedy
1Can the seat height, and back of the chair be adjusted to achieve the posture detailed below?Adjust the height of your chair.Obtain a fully height adjustable chair.
2Are your feet fully supported when you are seated in your chair?Reduce the chair height.Obtain
a footrest.

Obtain a fully height adjustable chair.
3Does the chair provide support for the Lumbar region (your lower back)?Adjust the chair backs Lumbar position.Obtain a lumbar roll.

Obtain a better chair.
4When your back is supported, can you sit without feeling
pressure from the chair seat on the rear of your knees?
Change the seats pan adjustment.Obtain a back support.

Obtain a better chair.
5Can you adjust your armrests to allow you to get closer to your workstation / desk, and still support your arms?Adjust armrests.Remove armrests – but consider a better chair as your arms will be unsupported.
6Can the angle of your seat be adjusted to the optimal seating position?Adjust the Floating Tilt angle Beyond 90 degrees to 135 degrees. Obtain a better chair with Floating Tilt adjustment.
7Ease of Motion – Can you move the location of your chair easily, to allow for small changes?Your chair will have wheels to allow you move towards or away from your desk as you wish.Add wheels if the model allows.

Obtain a better chair with wheels.

Your Peripherals (Keyboard/Mouse) Ergonomic Checks

Not to be underestimated, it is vital that you choose a mouse that is right for you, and that you position them correctly as improper and prolonged use can lead to to Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI). If your current workspace set-up is not ideal, follow the table below and if needed, consider investing in some solutions that may help you to have a more comfortable working position.

CheckWhat to CheckYou Can RemedyYou Cannot Remedy
1Are your peripherals at elbow
height?
Raise or lower keyboard.

Raise or lower chair.
Obtain a keyboard or mouse stand.

Obtain an adjustable chair.
2Are your frequently used peripherals within easy reach?Rearrange your desk.

Move keyboard to correct position.
Consider peripheral mounts, or stands.

Ensure you get a chair which can project towards and under your desk.
3Is the keyboard close to the front of the desk, allowing space for your wrists to rest on the surface of the desk?Relocate keyboard.Obtain wrist support for the keyboard.

Consider keyboard stand – either an over desk, or under desk variant.
4When using your keyboard and mouse, are your upper arms relaxed and wrists straight?
The keyboard angle should not place the wrist in an awkward posture when in use.
Re-adjust your chair, raise / lower it as desired.

Check your posture.

Check keyboard and mouse height.
Review available keyboard and mouse supports, mounts and stands.
5Is your mouse about the same level and near to your keyboard?Move your mouse / keyboard closer to one another. De-clutter your desk.

Obtain larger desk if necessary.
6Is the mouse comfortable to use? If your positioning is correct, it should be comfortable.

Test with differing positions.
Review different mouse options, some different designs may be more comfortable, depending on how you use it.

Your Work Desk Ergonomics

You might be wondering why this is not the top of my list? Well, if we had the worlds supply of money to spend on our workspaces, then it certainly would be. The reality is we’ll be getting by with what we already have, instead of procuring a ‘fit for purpose’ desk. So that leaves us with looking at options that best fit into what we have.

CheckWhat to CheckYou Can RemedyYou Cannot Remedy
1Is your computer monitor, monitors or laptop positioned directly in front of you?Reposition monitor(s).

Move laptop
Consider buying monitor mounts, they are great at providing flexibility.

2Eye to monitor distance – Is your monitor positioned at around an arm’s length away?
Take into account:
The size of the monitor.
The screen resolution.
Also if the user wears
spectacles?
Reposition monitor(s).Replace your monitor – if it’s an old CRT monitor, a flat screen will also make space.

Use adjustable monitor mounts.
3Is the height of your monitor slightly below eye level?Adjust monitor heightAdd a monitor stand.
4Is your workspace and work surface free from glare?Add blinds / curtains to windows.

Adjust lighting.
Obtain an antiglare screen.
5Do you have satisfactory lighting for working in your workspace?Reposition your workspace.

Turn on / off lights.

Place lamp on left side if right handed – and vice versa.
Obtain a fit for purpose desk lamp.
6Are frequently used items in your workspace located within your usual work area?Rearrange workstation.Mount your peripherals and monitors to free-up desk space.
They can be stored away when not in use, so your desk can be a usable space.

Ergonomic Desktop Accessories

When it comes to your home office there are a wide and varied selection of accessories you can invest in. From the sensible ones that make you more productive, to the weird and wacky things that are hypnotic; and make you late submitting a piece of work! Though, really we can all do with some welcome distractions… but we’ll get onto that later.

CheckWhat to CheckYou Can RemedyYou Cannot Remedy
1Do you use the telephone, or use video conferencing while you are writing or using a keyboard?Do you have use of a headset?Obtain a headset if using the telephone or video conferencing.
2Do you hold documents either on the desk, or beside the screen?You have a document holder or filing system.Obtain a document holder.
3Do you use a laptop?

If so, do you ‘dock it’?
You have a docking station so you can utilise bigger monitors, better peripheral devices.Purchase a docking station.
4Do you require a better audio solution for your workspace?Your computer audio is acceptable.Procure a computer audio solution.
5Do you have a large amount of stationary on your desk?You have a desk tidy.Obtain a dual purpose ergonomic and aesthetic desk tidy

Take a Break..!

Well in writing this article I have, a few in fact. It is important that you make time to get away from your desk, to stretch those limbs and also to get your eyes away from the monitor. Simply not thinking about what you were working on makes you come back feeling refreshed and more able to do another round. You should take postural breaks every 30 minutes, that means getting up, standing or walking to the printer, or taking a look out of a window. It may be a good idea to set reminders to take breaks, that way you can pace yourself and also set targets.

It is very important to try to re-focus your eyes, to have them focus on something more distant than your monitor. Ideally, look out of a window and look at objects at differing focal lengths. Think of your eyes as muscles that need to be stretched doing different exercises.

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Workspace Aesthetics

For those of you that are a little ‘vane’ and I include myself here, some of the additions to your workspace can actually make it look a lot cooler! As well as delivering a genuine function, some of them just look great.

‘All the gear, and no idea?’ Well who’d know..? The modern home office workspace can actually look like your own personal command center. Wow your friends and relatives when they visit with your very own NORAD. And why not, having a workspace you actually like will make you want to return to it and use it for more than just for vanity.

Do you have your own off-site office? Well this subject, Aesthetics, says a lot about you. You will more than likely want your office to be statement of professionalism, so your clients will take a look around and know they’re in good hands. When you think about it, you’ll realise that these items are assets that you will probably have for a very long time, so choose them wisely; and remember that if you buy cheap, you may buy twice.

Do what suits you best!

Listen to what your body is telling you…

Is your back or neck feeling sore, take another look at the above. If you are happy you have the best ergonomic workspace you can, then maybe it is just time for a rest or time to quit for the day. Remember it is worth investing in some ergonomic equipment rather than persisting with what you have, it may cost you a sizeable amount of dough, but will be worth it in the long-run. In terms of your physical health, but also your productivity. Being comfortable may mean you can get stuff done quicker and actually get away from the desk sooner. For the workaholics amongst you, you can get more done.

Got a headache, feel your eyes straining, then get out and away, go take a walk and get some fresh air, clear your head and have your eyes look at varying things at various distances.

Feeling tired, then see the above… that fresh air is a power reset, like having another two hours sleep! Ok, maybe not, but give it a try.

Grab a coffee, then get back into it.

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