“Good morning mr ripper“
“Hello Bob“said the boss.
“Well go to your perfect office while I suffer in this dump“thought Bob, the hardworking worker.
Bob smiled. He knew what awaited him in his office. A crammed chair, a keyboard that forces you to stretch if you have to type, a squeaky wooden floor, and plants that give you no motivation. It was clearly a dump.
Do you know what Bob is missing? Is it motivation? Or maybe an imagination? It’s probably just office ergonomics.
What is ergonomics in the office??
Ergonomics is the study of how your body responds to its environment.
Office ergonomics is the study of the relationship between the worker and the workplace.
You may think you are working very hard. You may feel tired at the end of the day. But if you sit at a desk all day, your life is sedentary. This lifestyle greatly affects your health, both physically and mentally. Uncomfortable chairs, low desks, tight space between your desk items and the office environment all play an important role when it comes to office ergonomics.
Bad office ergonomics not only affects your health, but also your business. And everyone wants health or wealth, sometimes both. Now imagine if you can’t have any.
If you’re still not convinced, here are some stats:
1. The average adult spends between 50% and 80% of the day sitting at work.
2. 2/3 of working class people are overweight.
3. Back pain is one of the top ten causes of disability.
4. Musculoskeletal disorders are high for the working class.
5. In half of the office workers, 16% complained of severe pain at the end of the day.
6. A worker spends more than 1500 hours in front of a computer.
You don’t have to worry too much because most companies take office ergonomics very seriously. When ergonomic risk factors are eliminated, employees have maximum productivity and that in turn benefits the company.
Many companies hire an EHS (Environment Health and Safety) team, which looks after the comfort and benefits of the employee.
If you think, it doesn’t matter how you sit and where the mouse is placed or even where the file holders are kept, then think again.
Here are some guidelines on how to use office equipment to your advantage:
1. Your throne (aka your chair) – The height and width of the chair are important. The height should be such that your feet rest comfortably on the ground. Your knees should be level with your hips. If your chair does not provide lumbar support, place a cushion in the curve of your lower back. Your elbows should be above desk level. An easier way is to buy a chair that supports your lower back, has an adjustable armrest, footrest, and a tilt feature. If you don’t have a footrest, imagine yourself with a stool or a stack of books.
2. The rodent problem (basically the mouse): the mouse must be placed at the same level as the keyboard. When using your mouse, your wrist should be straight and relaxed, not bent or twisted to either side. You can use a wrist rest if required. Keep your shoulders relaxed. If you take a break, place your hands on the palms of your hands, but never on your wrist.
3. Your monitor (no fancy names): The level your monitor is placed on is important. It should be placed directly in front of you, not in the corner or above you. It should be within easy reach, about 18 to 30 inches away. The top circumference of the monitor should be slightly above your eye level. Try to select a monitor that reduces glare. If not, turn off the glare-causing lights or close the curtains. Try placing the monitor next to the bright source.
4. Posture (or your gait): This is an obvious assumption. Right. You must sit up straight. Not only that, but focus your body on the monitor and keyboard. Try not to cross your legs. Instead, place it on the footrest. Your thighs and elbows should be parallel to the ground while resting. Your desk should be of a certain size and height so that you have room to move your legs freely. Do not keep anything under your desk. It creates clutter and discomfort in your lower body.
5. The essentials (like stapler, glue and pens): Keep these essentials close to you. Make sure you don’t have to reach to lift them. If so, always get up and receive it. Don’t exert yourself. Use a headset to avoid straining when picking up a telephone handset.
Some more guidelines regarding office ergonomics:
1. Do not press your elbow or hands on sharp objects on your seat.
2. Give your eyes a break by gently massaging them or looking at something distant.
3. Adjust the screen brightness according to your comfort.
4. Walk around your office. You don’t sit for long.
5. Put up plants, potpourri, or even pictures of family or friends. It will always make you feel better.
6. You can always exercise in your cabinet or office. Try stretching.
7. Try to use all of your muscle groups as you work. Be imaginative.
There are many platforms online that offer ergonomic furniture, such as ergonomic chairs and keyboards.
The guidelines mentioned above are conventional. Ergonomics have taken a modern twist. Like the following:
1. The conventional method says to place the monitor 18 to 30 inches apart, but you should place it at your preferred distance as long as you can see the content clearly.
2. The conventional method suggests that you place the keyboard close to you. But that is unnecessary, as long as the elbow and wrist are well supported, you can place them at the distance you want.
3. The conventional method is to keep the mouse away but practically keep it close to you. If it is close to the keyboard, then it is the best placement option.
4. The conventional method says that you should keep the monitor a little above or at eye level. This is fine, but some find it more comfortable to wear underneath. So find what suits you best.
5. The conventional method says that a steady and straight posture is final. But a change in posture is always better than a constant pose. Don’t hunch over, sit up straight. Find the posture that works best for you, and again, don’t slouch.
So there you have it, simple yet efficient ways to make your professional life more comfortable and bearable. You have the conventional method and you have the modern method. Find what suits you best.
The ergonomics of the office is a wide platform. There are ongoing debates as to whether or not their guidelines are effective. It may seem limiting, but it had many positive effects on your health. If you are the boss, remember that a healthy and happy employee is likely to stay and deal with you better than the opposite.
Happy ergonomics to you!