An ergonomic working environment, which supports the body in a neutral position, can reduce the possibility of discomfort or pain caused by these stressors. This indicates that your neck, arms, wrists, and hands are not bent up or sideways, nor are your vertebrae twisted. Even for extended periods of time, an ergonomically correct setup will allow you to rest comfortably at a computer. (However, remember to take pauses and move around every hour.)
Here’s how to set up a workspace that fits and accommodates you best, based on guidance from ergonomics experts and what has been discovered over years of testing home-office furniture and gear.
1. An Ergonomic Chair That Supports Your Back
Here’s something to pay attention to: Does your lower and middle back feel cushioned when you’re pressed against the backrest, or are there spaces between your vertebrae and the chair? The best ergonomic desk chairs on the market are those that support your back’s natural S-curve. Poorly designed chairs feel more like sitting on a log against a hard wall. If the chair does not support your lower back, you need lumbar support.
If you spend hours at your desk each day, you should invest in a great office chair with lumbar support. Make sure that it’s highly adjustable to suit a variety of sitting positions and has a cushion that offers optimal comfort. A lumbar support pillow is particularly useful for enhancing the fit of your chair, which will encourage you to sit correctly with your back against the backrest (good), as opposed to leaning forward or resting on the edge of your seat (bad).
2. A Height-adjustable Workstation
Whether seated on ergonomic desk chairs or standing, a height-adjustable desk can help you position your keyboard and display at the most comfortable height. Arms and wrists should be in a neutral position when typing on a keyboard at a workstation, parallel to the floor or angled down towards the lap to reduce strain. The typical height of a desk is between 70 and 76 centimetres, which is suitable for people who are 175cm or taller but not optimal for those shorter than that (the average adult).
There are several solutions to this problem. You could install a keyboard tray under your workstation to lower it, or you could raise your chair so that your wrists are above the keyboard. If you raise your chair, you should be able to maintain your feet flat on the floor; if not, you will need a footrest to support your legs and feet.
3. An Ergonomic Keyboard
Here’s something to try out: Place your hands over your keyboard as if you’re going to compose. Now separate your hands so that they are shoulder-width apart by your sides. This should make you feel more relaxed and relieved, with less strain on your shoulders. Unfortunately, the majority of keyboards are not designed for this position and instead force your palms inward, resulting in rounded shoulders.
Fully split keyboards are the most adjustable ergonomic keyboards, as they allow you to separate each half of the keyboard so that your wrists are shoulder-width apart and your shoulders are relaxed. There is a steep learning curve associated with typing on a divided keyboard, so you may opt for a partially split keyboard or one without a number pad.
Keyboards without a numeric keypad (also known as “tenkeyless keyboards”) keep the mouse closer to you, thereby reducing the tension of frequently extending your arm. In addition, an ergonomic keyboard has a low, flat profile or tilts forward (the space keys are higher than the top row of keys) to maintain a neutral wrist position.
4. A Mouse Designed to Fit Your Hand
Using a standard mouse or the touchpad on your laptop can strain the muscles in your fingers and wrists in the same way that typing can cause fatigue or discomfort. Most people should search for a wireless mouse that is at least comfortable to hold and easy to operate.
If using a mouse causes wrist discomfort or fatigue, consider an alternative input device, such as a stylus with a graphics tablet or a trackball, that reduces fine wrist movements. Both are beneficial if you have shoulder or wrist strain because they maintain the neutral position of your hand.
5. A Display Placed at a Convenient Height
To protect your eyes from strain and fatigue, ensure that you can view the monitor or laptop screen without craning or bending your neck. Position your monitor so that your eye level is approximately 5 to 7 centimetres below the top of the screen and approximately an arm’s length away.
You can raise your laptop or monitor as required with just about anything that’s flat and wide, like a stack of books. But for more durability and finer control over the height of your display, consider a laptop stand or a monitor arm. Each is highly adaptable.
6. An Adequate Illumination
Experts in ergonomics prescribe adequate lighting to reduce eye strain, prevent unnatural craning of the neck, and help increase productivity while working. An abundance of natural lighting in your workspace is optimal because it can increase your sense of well-being and energy while decreasing eye strain; daylight and access to outdoor views provide your eyes with opportunities to relax and recuperate from the strain of staring at a computer screen all day.
If you don’t have natural light in your home office, or if you’re working late at night or on cloudy days, the best illumination to help you concentrate is a combination of overhead and task lighting.