How to Set Up a Healthy Computer Workstation
A healthy computer workstation setup will help you keep yourself focused, healthy, and productive as a remote worker. After the COVID-19 hit during the first trimester of 2021, the number of people working from their homes increased greatly. Still, not all of them have built an appropriate environment where they can work comfortably.
When you don't use the appropriate computer desk setup, you're putting yourself at risk of suffering injuries and mental health problems derived from it. For instance, it is known that musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) result from poor ergonomics, although there are many other negative repercussions to this.
For instance, back and neck pain are among the most common ailments that office workers suffer, according to statistics.
Taking into account these repercussions, how can we improve these conditions?
If you want to improve your work conditions and start building an ergonomic workstation setup, we will orient you in the right direction today. There are multiple aspects to consider for a best computer workstation setup, such as the furniture you'll use and the office layout.
Steps to set up a healthy computer workstation
There are multiple ways of setting up a productive workspace setup. As every user is different and has diverse opportunities, not all workstations will look or feel the same. However, all of them will try to emphasize the ergonomics so the user can be comfortable and focused on what they’re doing.
Here we explain the three steps you need to follow in order to set up an appropriate ergonomic computer setup based on the mentioned discipline.
1. Design the workstation based on your necessities
We all have different needs for your computer workstation setup. Most people build their workstations with what they think is necessary without actually paying attention to what's really needed. Thus, before starting to modify your computer desk setup, take some time to make a checklist and verify all the items you'll need to complete your daily tasks. Then, you can proceed to follow these steps:
- Prioritize certain items and place them close to you accordingly.
- Make sure to place them in locations where they are easily reachable to avoid stretching your arms.
- If you cannot help but stretch your arms, make sure you vary your movements and poses throughout the day to avoid feeling discomfort and pain.
2. Adapt your workstation to your preferences
The next step to build your computer workstation setup is more extensive, especially because you will be modifying the essential items of your office. Previously, we focused on the items we were able to "modify" based on our needs. However, this time we will be taking into account the furniture, including the chair and desk.
First station: Your chair
If you’ve already acquired an ergonomic office chair, it’s time to adjust it and adapt it to your needs. Some chairs contain enough adjustability features for you to feel comfortable throughout the whole workday. Please, pay attention to the following factors:
- Adjust the seat height so your thighs can be at a ninety-degree angle regarding the floor or parallel to it.
- Make sure the seat depth is well-adjusted. You will know once there is a small separation between the back area of your knees and the seat pan.
- The seat angle may vary based on your preferences, but most people find it comfortable when it is set up from ninety to ninety-five degrees.
- As for the backrest, if your chair doesn’t include lumbar support, you can place a pillow on that area to make sure your lower back is supported.
- Adjust the backrest angle to what you feel is comfortable. For instance, 95 to 105 degrees is what most users would find comfy.
- The armrest height should make it possible for you to keep your arms parallel to the floor.
Second station: Your workstation
Here we will be taking care of what’s on your desk directly and the lighting of the room. A standing desk is the best solution in these cases as they allow you to sit or stand based on what you feel comfortable with at the moment.
As for your keyboard in computer workstation setup, it would be best if you placed it parallel to the floor. Another recommendation is to keep it with a slight inclination, but please take into account that:
- The keyboard’s position shouldn’t force you to bend your wrists. It should help you to keep your elbows at each side.
- Keyboard trays should help you find the best position. However, if your current keyboard doesn't have one, you can modify the seat height and take advantage of a footstool if you think it's necessary.
Your mouse should be as close to the ergonomic keyboard as possible – enough for you to move it around without problems.
While you're using it in your computer workstation setup, don't squeeze it and hold it loosely while keeping your wrists erect. If you can alternate between each hand to use it, it would be best. It's also recommendable to set the pointer speed to an optimal level.
The monitor should be slightly below the level of your eyes. In other words, it should be perpendicular to your field of vision. Try to be away from eighteen to thirty inches from the screen – although this distance can vary based on how good your eyesight is.
It’s hugely important for any standing desk setup to include enough lighting to avoid eye strain and to improve efficiency. If the light bulbs of your room do not provide enough lighting to your computer workstation setup, include a desk lamp in your setup.
Third station: Do stretches
For the last but not least important area, we’ll focus on exercising while we’re at our workstation. These stretches will help you soothe the pain and will enhance your comfort throughout the day.
You can use the stretches recommended by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) or any other exercises you may find useful for this purpose. It is crucial for us to stay in movement if we sit for prolonged periods. This way, we can avoid feeling ailments like back pain and musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), as was mentioned at the beginning of the article.
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