What can I do to improve ergonomics in the office to avoid discomfort?
With how much time our lives are spent working, anyone will start to wonder how their office habits affect their health. Especially for those of us that spend most of our time working at a desk, staring at the computer screen. In 2015 (the last year for which this data is available), the average employee put in 38.7 hours a week and worked 46.8 weeks that year, according to a Pew analysis of Labor Department data. All told, this means that the average employed U.S. adult works 1,811.16 hours per year. Let’s look at a 4 tips on making sure this time is well spent, without the pain or fatigue interfering with our health.
- 1) It all starts with your Office Chair
If you’re wondering how you can apply a small change that makes a big difference in your office, the answer is right underneath you; your chair.
Numerous studies and reports demonstrate the significance of providing comfortable, ergonomic seating in the workplace. A good office chair provides proper lumbar and pelvic support, which results in your back muscles being more relaxed. Unfortunately, many chairs do not offer adequate support.
Choosing the proper ergonomic chair can mean the difference between comfort or discomfort during your work day. All ergonomic chairs come equipped with multi-function seat control mechanisms. These allow you to easily adjust your seat height, arm height, and width. The built-in lumbar support promotes correct posture during long periods of remaining in the same seated position. Furthermore, most ergonomic chairs are accessible in many different styles, colors, and fabrics. Certain customization also apply, such as whether you’d like to have a headrest for your chair or not. In truth, the ergonomic office chair is not only a product of science, but of creativity. Who says that just because a chair sits in an office, it must be boring? If anything, it should be top priority to find a chair that will keep you satisfied from the very first time you sit on it to the last.
- 2) Better your day, with a Keyboard Tray
Let’s get straight to the point and list out the benefits of using a keyboard tray, shall we? Keyboard trays will clear up clutter on the desk. While this one is quite obvious, it is also worth mentioning. Without your keyboard and mouse sitting on your desktop, you’ll have a lot more room to put more important things (reports, client files, memos, and even your coffee gets a front row seat). Your wrists and shoulders won’t hurt at the end of the day. Ever have one of those days where your wrists and shoulders are just killing you? These symptoms can come from your body not being in it’s natural relaxed state. When you have your arms up on your desk typing, they’re not in their natural position. Also your wrists are bent upwards which can cause that pain you feel on the underside (sometimes causing carpal tunnel syndrome).
Do this exercise with me: Place your arms up on your desk and sit like you would be typing for the day. Now slowly back you chair up while holding your arms in the same position, not letting them drop. How long can you hold them there?…Keep going…getting uncomfortable yet? OK, now while still being backed away from your desk, let your arms relax onto your lap like you would be watching TV at home. How much more comfortable is that? What if you could work like that all day long? Sounds pretty great doesn’t it? Well, the dream is possible. The keyboard tray is one of the most looked over office accessories, or should I say necessities, that can make a big impact on your work life.
- 3) Monitor Arms – Keeping comfort at Arm’s Length
Monitor arms attach to your work surface and support your computer monitors at an elevated position. There are many advantages to having monitor arms. The most important of them is the ability to adjust the monitor arms so that your computer monitors are at eye level. This is crucial because it prevents neck pain caused by looking down at your computer monitor all day. The monitor arms are incredibly mobile, allowing you to move the computer monitors closer or further when your eyes begin to feel strained. Typically having your screens at arms length is the ideal position.
Furthermore, monitor arms help to eliminate clutter and give you more space at your desk. This is wonderful because cleanliness often helps to promote productivity. There are many different styles of monitor arms to choose from that will surely give any drab work area a modern, trendy look. Aside from just being pleasing to the eyes, it is a relief to know that the monitor arms are quite easy to install or uninstall onto your work surface. There just seems to be no disadvantages to having monitor arms, as a matter of fact we sure do love ours here at Office Interiors.4
- 4) Sit-to-stand Desks and why they’re the Best!
The “sitting disease”, is one of the biggest health threats of our modern lifestyle. Sitting disease refers to metabolic syndrome and the ill-effects of a sedentary lifestyle, including increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, obesity, and early death. Prolonged sitting actively promotes several avoidable chronic diseases that are eating away at our health.
The good news is, by implementing a few small changes to your daily habits can benefit your mind, body, and overall health in numerous ways.
Incorporating more standing and movement into your work day using a sit-stand desk, may be just the solution you were looking for. A sit-stand desk is a height adjustable desk that allows you to alternate between sitting and standing at your desk while you work.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of standing.
- Burns more calories compared to sitting (20% increase).
I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up to about 50 calories an hour. If you stand for 3 hours a day for 5 days a week, that’s around 750 calories burnt. Over the course of a year it would add up to about 30,000 extra calories, or around 8lb of fat.
- Reduces strain on the lower back and neck from prolonged sitting.
Many people experience chronic pain caused by excessive sitting. Our bodies were not designed to sit 8 to 12 hours a day. Standing not only improves posture, but also puts your spine into a more naturally aligned position. When standing desks were initially introduced, 54% of workers reported a reduction in back and neck pain.
- Improves Energy, Mood and Focus. Standing helps deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the brain by stimulating blood flow. It facilitates the creation of new cells, which increases focus and brain power. Studies have linked standing during the workday to increased concentration, productivity, and performance.
So how long should you stand for, you may ask? Starting off with a simple 5 minutes every half hour should do the trick. You can gradually increase the time as you get more comfortable using your Sit-to-stand desk. Our team at Office Interiors even has a tradition called “Power Hour“, which gets everyone participating in standing for at least an hour a day.
We’ve equipped you with the knowledge, tools and tips you need to have an ergonomic workplace, now it’s up to you to take action. Don’t wait – start today. If you don’t have ergonomic office furniture currently, feel free to reach out to us, as we provide a variety of ergonomic office chairs, desks, monitor arms, keyboard trays and accessories. When you invest into your workplace and office furniture, you also invest in your people.