Ergonomic Computer Use Tips for Office Workers
There’s not a soul on the planet that can argue against the fact that we’re sitting down more than ever. Collectively, we live in a society dominated by office jobs and recreational couch-based hobbies.
If it was a bad situation before, then it’s an absolutely terrible one now. The global pandemic has forced everyone indoors for the last 12+ months, so everyone and their mothers have been increasing the time they spend on the computer.
This has the lasting effect of completely messing up your spine and posture, especially if you’re at a computer full time. You’re bent over, shoulders hunched, and in a position that is going to destroy your back as you age.
There are certain things you can do to fight against this, though, which is why we’ve put together some handy computer ergonomics tips for you to use so that your back stays as healthy as can be.
What is Ergonomics?
When we’re talking about computer ergonomics tips, we’re talking about the way in which you use your computer from a posture point of view. It’s everything to do with the height of your chair and monitor, the way you position your arms, your legs, and your back. It helps you to have a more productive work environment.
It’s an area of study that aims to identify how you can minimize the damage that sitting down causes you and trust us when we say that it’s a lot.
When you follow ergonomic computer tips or guidelines, you’re paying constant attention to how you’re sitting, as well as the general layout of your office. It can also call on you to invest in some equipment for ergonomic computer workstation. This might seem like a big purchase at the time, but the long term benefits of using specialist equipment are more than worth it.
So, that’s essentially what computer ergonomics is. It’s a way in which you can avoid suffering long term back damage from sitting down too long.
Computer Ergonomics Tips and Tricks
We’re going to go over some basic ways you can help keep your work flowing in an ergonomic manner. This is going to help you improve your ergonomics immediately without the need to buy any new desks or chairs.
After that, we’re going to talk about some office equipment that you can buy to maximize your ergonomic performance when you’re working at your computer.
Even if you only take one tip away from this article, using that tip is going to make a massive difference in your day-to-day life. If you take a combination of tips as well as equipment recommendations for ergonomic computer workstation, you’re going to notice a dramatic improvement in your quality of life, especially when you start to age and don’t suffer from back pain.
How to Sit Ergonomically at Your Workstation
For all you office workers, this is how you should be trying to sit as much as possible during the working day. This advice is applicable to anyone sitting at a computer, whether office workers, gamers, or editors, though, so don’t think any of the advice we’re giving is exclusive.
First, let’s talk about your leg and feet. When we’re looking at a workstation with ergonomic computer, the name of the game is lower back support. This is the part of your spine that bears the brunt of your poor posture while you’re working, so the aim should be to help it carry that load as much as possible. It is also a productivity hack for you.
To do that, make sure that your feet are always flat on the floor and not raised or crossed so that your legs carry some of your body weight. Better yet, if you get a footrest, you can take that pressure off of both your legs and your back while also staying comfortable.
Your knees should be bent at 90-degree angles, and your feet should be facing directly in front of you. Needless to say, you’re not going to pull out a protractor and measure the angles of how you’re sitting, so take these numbers as a rough estimate to aim for rather than being precise figures.
Moving our way up, make sure that your torso is up straight at all times. Never slouch or hunch over – keep that spine pointed like an arrow. Try your best to keep your shoulders relaxed (which we know can be touched in a stressful working environment) and keep your elbows close to your sides.
Speaking of elbows, never rest them on the edges of your table with an ergonomic computer. That’s going to have surprisingly negative effects on the rest of your body’s posture. Keep them bent at a roughly 110 degree angle while you’re typing too.
Let’s talk about typing because there’s actually a little bit of technicality to unwrap here.
Depending on your profession, typing is either going to present a big problem that you need to face or a small one. For a writer, making sure that your typing posture is correct is infinitely more important than, say, an insurance broker that spends most of the working day taking calls.
Regardless, though, it’s something that you should monitor if you find yourself working with an ergonomic computer.
Your wrists should be kept in a straight or neutral position every time you go to use your mouse. Unlike how you’re not meant to rest your elbows, though, you can rest your wrists. Ideally, you should invest in a cheap ergonomic wrist support item. These don’t cost too much and can make typing so much easier. Alternatively, you can use the edge of your ergonomic keyboard or laptop, depending on which you’re using.
It’s worth noting that official ergonomic health advice states that your wrists should float while you type and rest while you’re pausing. If you’re looking for the most optimum ergonomic computer setup, that’s advice that you need to follow. However, if you’re not willing to deal with that, supporting your wrists properly is the next best thing.
Last but not least, let’s talk about your neck and head. You might be picking up on this theme already, but when you’re sitting at a computer, keep your head straight. You need your entire upper body to be like a tower, which admittedly takes some getting used to.
We’re going to talk a little bit more about this in a second, but you need to position your monitor so that you can look at it straight without straining your neck or head too much, so if you don’t have a height adjustable screen, it might be time to invest in one.
Computer Ergonomic Workstation Tips
Okay, that’s your posture out of the way. We know that’s a lot to unwrap, but trust us when we say it’s going to help you out a ton.
Now we’ve got to move onto your workstation and the environment around you. Knowing how to conduct yourself is only half of the ergonomics battle. You need to have everything you interact with optimized, as well.
Starting off with the little things you use in your daily life. We’re talking stuff like staplers, pens, sticky notes, calculators, and so on.
All of that stuff should be in your immediate vicinity and not tucked away in a drawer. If you’re reaching for these things 20 times per day, that’s 100 times per week. All of those stretches and strains add up over time.
Moving forward a little bit, there are actually some specific angles you should try to keep your keyboard at an ergonomic computer. If you’re working from an upright position, which you should be if you’ve been following the advice in this article, then having your keyboard at a negative tilt can help you deal with wrist strain and prevent back and neck pain.
This means having the front of your keyboard higher than the back of it. There are a few different ways to do this, but a lot of keyboards come with clips on the bottom that can be used to adjust the tilt without needing to homebrew a solution.
We’ve talked briefly about the monitor situation, but let’s dive in deeper. When we’re talking about how your monitor should be positioned, there are two distinct figures to keep in mind: distance and height.
Height wise, the top of your monitor should be slightly below eye level while you’re working. That one’s easy. The distance between you and your monitor, however, is a bit more specific. You should be keeping a range of 20” between you and your monitor at all times. Not only does this help with your back ergonomics, but it’s going to save your eyes from all of that negative light, as well.
Ergonomic Workstation Equipment
There’s nothing to it, right?
Getting an ergonomic computer workstation setup is easy. All it takes is some dedicated practice, and you should be good to go.
For any office workers looking to go the extra mile, though, this section is for you.
If you haven’t got the time or energy to focus on keeping parts of your body at specific angles while you work, you can invest in some equipment, like ergonomic computers, to do it for you.
An ergonomic chair for your ergonomic computer is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a chair that comes with built in back support to help your posture stay straight even if you’re not paying attention to it.
You can get some great ergonomic chairs from Autonomous, and you even have the option of paying monthly rather than one up-front lump sum. This is one of the single best things you can do for your posture and back if you’re an ergonomic worker, especially if you can get management on board to outfit the office for you.
After you have your chair, you need to minimize the amount of time you’re spending on it. We know that sounds counter-intuitive, but there’s a logic behind it.
The biggest piece of advice we have to give for your ergonomics is to constantly switch your position. You should be moving around every 40 minutes or so to keep your body and muscles active. Having an adjustable sit-stand desk is going to let you do that with ease compared to the alternative. It is one of the best computer ergonomics tips you must know.
With desks like this, you can use a standing desk calculator to adjust the height to whatever level you feel comfortable with. This means that you can use it for both sitting and standing, making it the most versatile ergonomic desk on the market today.
With the ability to both adjust your office chair height and your desk height, the rest of your ergonomics should completely fall into place.
Customization is a key factor in ergonomics, so both of these pieces of equipment can be absolute lifesavers.
Why Ergonomics is Important?
It should go without saying, but if you spend eight plus hours in a chair every day staring at a screen, it’s going to have effects on your body. Those effects aren’t exactly good, so you need to fight against them.
The difference between an office worker that practices ergonomics while working at their ergonomic computers and one that doesn’t might not be immediately obvious. However, when both of these workers start to hit their 50s and 60s, the difference is going to become apparent.
Being ergonomically conscious is going to do things like help maintain a good posture and save your eyesight, sure, but more importantly, it preserves your back.
By using ergonomics to your advantage, you’re not going to suffer nearly as badly from back pains as some of your co-workers. You’re not going to struggle bending over or picking something up, and that’s not a luxury that anything but ergonomics can give you.
That’s all we’ve got for you today. If you’re looking for more ergonomic standing workstation and ergonomic computer tips, we have a ton of them on our blog.
We’ve got information on all the posture advice, equipment, and standing desk accessories that you could possibly need. If you have questions, then we have the answers.
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