Although workstation ergonomics as a science has been around for many years, few people take the time and energy to set up their computer workstation in an ergonomic fashion – and it’s common to experience muscle or joint aches and pains, in addition to the dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive stress injury.
It’s not difficult to arrange your work area in a way that makes your computer use less of a strain on your body, and in our business of providing Managed IT Services to companies of all sizes we see a lot of setups that could be made more ergonomic with just a few simple changes.
The single easiest change you can make, the one almost anyone can do in just a couple of seconds, is to flip the small supports under your keyboard back up into the body of the keyboard. While it may seem like tilting your keyboard toward you is a good thing to do, the way our wrists and hands are constructed make it the exact opposite; tilting your keyboard away from you is a better ergonomic situation, but just laying it flat is frequently easier to do.
Another important change regarding workstation ergonomics is to place your computer screen in the center of your desk, where you don’t have to turn your head – even a little bit – to look at it. This change alone can reduce neck pain significantly.
While providing support to our clients, this has also shown us that many people raise their chairs too high from the ground. When your legs are dangling in the air, the nerves and blood vessels in your knees are compressed, and can cause damage over long periods of time. Lowering your chair to put your feet on the ground can prevent this.
Another surprising issue is wrist rests. While most people providing IT Support are recommending their use, they actually tend to compress the delicate nerves in the wrist – creating a greater risk of injury – and you should discontinue their use.
Finally, many people have their monitors placed too low. By simply placing a few reams of paper under the monitor, it can be easily raised to a level where sitting with your back and neck straight leave you looking at the upper 1/3 of the screen – the optimal ergonomic placement.
These simple changes to your workstation ergonomics can not only improve the long term health and well-being of your employees, but often make a difference in employee attitude and happiness almost immediately… and happy employees tend to be more productive employees.