OPTIMISING WORKSPACE COMFORT

We’ve all returned from a much-needed break over Christmas and many of us will now settle back into sitting at our desks for long periods of time. While it may not look like it, sitting for long periods can wreak havoc on our bodies. There’s no shortage of discouraging research pointing out the evils of a sedentary lifestyle and claiming that sitting will shorten our lives. Refer to our previous blog article 'THE DANGER OF WORKPLACE INACTIVITY'.

Here's how to set up a healthy, ergonomic workspace to keep you comfortable and injury-free for 2017.

1. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT

A comfortable working environment makes for happy and productive employees - we simply work more efficiently when our workstations are designed to fit our bodies. The key here is flexibility. Your organisation will need to accommodate a diverse array of different body types, weights and heights and your workstations need to be flexible enough to accommodate them.

Line up your body correctly by following these two principles:

• Your feet should be flat on the floor and your elbows should be even with your desk.

• Your computer monitor should be slightly below eye level, so you don’t strain your neck and shoulders looking down.

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1.1 Adjustable Ergonomic Chair

There are many products available to assist in ensuring comfort and we refer to these as ‘ergonomic’. Ergonomic furniture provides optimum comfort to avoid stress or injury.

Our task chair should be flexible and adjustable to suit a wide range of body shapes and heights.

1.2 Adjustable Keyboard Tray

An adjustable keyboard tray drops down below your desk and allows for your wrists to be in the correct flat position.

Your mouse and keyboard should be as close together as possible. Your elbows should be at or near a 90 degree angle, when typing so your wrists are not bent.

If you can’t get an adjustable keyboard tray, the same position can be achieved by raising your seat height and ensuring your feet are flat by placing them on a box.

1.3 Adjustable Monitor Arms

The top of your monitor should be just below eye level so that you do not have to look up to see the screen straining your neck and eyes.

Flat screen monitors have some great benefits. Not only do they save desk space, but they also allow for monitors to be mounted on adjustable arms.  This allows you to raise the height of the monitor to ensure it is at the appropriate height. Alternatively, a box under your monitor can do the same thing

1.4 Your Desk

Make sure that you are sitting or standing so that your desk is at the right height to suit your keyboard. The most important objects at your desk should be easily reachable.

2. LOOK AFTER YOUR BODY

It doesn't matter how "ergonomic" your equipment may be, you still need to be mindful of your body when you work. Here are three things you'll want to pay attention too every day.

2.1 Posture

Once your equipment is in the right position, make sure that you:

• Don't slouch.

• Keep your elbows close to your body and keep your wrists straight.

• Keep your shoulders and back relaxed.

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2.2 Take Frequent Breaks

It's no secret that sitting in one place staring at a screen all day is bad for you. You want to take at least a five minute break away from your screen every half hour to hour.

If you have trouble remembering download an app such as ‘Stand Up: The Work Break’ or ‘Health at Work’ to remind you when you need to take a break.

2.3 Protect Your Eyes

When you’re deciphering small font for hours at a time, eating your carrots just won’t cut it. Eye strain, dry and irritated eyes, and headaches are all very common complaints from people using a computer on a daily basis. Follow these four easy steps to reduce eye strain:

• Adjust the brightness of your monitor.

• If you can, position yourself so that windows are to your side, not directly in front of or behind your monitor. This adjustment will reduce glare or contrast.

• Follow the 20-20-20 rule. That’s focusing on an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes. The exercise will reduce “focusing fatigue” from staring at your computer.

• Remember to blink! People staring at a computer screen blink two to three times less than they would during the normal course of their day, leading to dry, irritated eyes.

These tips may seem simple or inconsequential, but they can make a world of difference. Do you have the right equipment to look after your staff in 2017?