How To Create An Ergonomic Home Office
The following is a guest post by Lloyd Burrell. If you would like to write for this blog, please check out the guidelines here.
Having a home office set-up that just makes you want to stand back and admire it might feel like the right choice initially, but what really matters day in/ day out is comfort and functionality.
The more efficiently that something is designed or run, the better off it is for everyone concerned. Since you probably work alone in your home office, then for any ergonomic improvements you make 100% of the benefit goes to you.
The three main components of the home office are a chair, the office desk and your computer and keyboard. It’s how you arrange all these three that will determine whether you obtain the best ergonomic design.
Here are some tips to help you create an ergonomic home office:
The first thing is to have a comfortable chair set to the right height. You’ll spend more productive time, rather than time spent massaging your sore back and neck. If you just threw your home office together, and didn’t spend any time studying the ergonomics and workflow pattern, then just getting the ergonomic chair you need will be a major step in the right direction. Here are some points for consideration:
- Is the seat pan comfortable and does it fit your shape?
- Can you adjust the seat chair height?
- Is the seat pan the right length for your legs? If it’s too long it will catch you behind the knees or prevent you from leaning fully back against the lumbar support.
- Is the chair the seat pan at least one inch wider (this is considered optimum) than your hips and thighs on either side?
- Does the chair have a lower back back rest?
- Is the chair back rest sufficiently large enough to give good back support?
- Does the seat still feel comfortable after you’ve been sitting in it for an hour or two? Low-density foam though not visible to the naked eye can cause a numbing feeling after time.
- Can you recline the backrest to support your back in different positions?
- Does the chair have a 5 arm pedestal base?
- Do you need armrests? If so, are they broad, contoured, cushioned and comfortable?
Your Office Desk
Perhaps you are at the point of going out and buying a new office desk:
- In general your office desk should measure somewhere between 24 inches and 27 inches in height. This will allow sufficient room for the arms of the chair to pass under the desktop. Anything shorter than that is likely to restrict movement. An adjustable-height office desk that can be adapted to the user is an even better, but your choice of designs is likely to be limited.
- Prefer an an office desk which offers adjustable shelves for the keyboard and monitor, allowing you to arrange them to suit your height. You should be able to raise or lower the keyboard shelf and adjust that shelf’s angle, as well.
- Monitors should be positioned on your office desk so that they are a minimum of 20 inches (50.8 cm) away and that the top line of type is between eye level and 15° below eye level, Correct positioning will help to minimize neck and eye strain.
- Prefer a desktop surface with a dull or matte finish to reduce glare and reflections.
- If you are a classically-trained typist, then keep your keyboard on the horizontal plane. If you hunt and peck, then use the back and recessed legs on the keyboard and prop them open, so that it’s tilted towards you.
- Try and buy a desk with some built in storage. We all have files which we have to access regularly and having them on or in your desk will be a definite advantage. A desk with a hutch might be a good choice if you only have limited floor space.
Your Computer and Keyboard
- Your wrists should be in a straight position when you’re at your keyboard. If they’re not, then you need to try changing your chair height or keyboard angle, or even adding a cushion to your seat perhaps. Try not to bend your elbows more than 90°, or else you’ll squash your blood vessels and you could develop sore shoulders, wrists, and arms.
- If you’re tall or large, then get one of those split ergonomic keyboards. Each half is angled towards you and not towards each other. If your arm reach is wider than an average person’s, they using one of these types of keyboards helps to relax your arms when you’re typing.
- Those wrist or armrests shouldn’t be used when you’re typing. If you have a gel pad at the front edge of your keyboard, then rest your palms on it and not your wrists. If you type from that position, then it’s a real strain on the tendons inside of your wrist. Try an antiglare filter screen on the front of your monitor, or if you were prescription eyeglasses, then you can get an antiglare filter added to them during manufacture.
- Try substituting a few of those shortcut keys for some of your mouse use. This means hitting the control key and another letter, and that will take you directly to the function. This reduces your dependence on the mouse, and a lot of those repetitive movements.
Blend your office ergonomics with your tasks, and very them and change them up occasionally. This gives your regular routine and muscles a refreshing few minutes of rest. Your muscles may recover much quicker if you can do this every now and then.
How Much Is My Health Worth?
If you feel the need for additional help with designing your office more ergonomically, then you can have a physical or occupational therapist visit you. This does require more outlay of cash, but if you are planning on spending a certain amount of money it may well be worth it. In the end, ask yourself: “How much is my health and well being worth?” Spending on office ergonomics may be one of the best investments you can make in the long run.
About the Author: Lloyd Burrell is a freelance writer and blogger who enjoys writing on the theme of office desks. He writes about a variety of desks including corner computer desks for home offices, computer desks with hutch, L-shaped computer desks, U shaped desks, Glass computer desks etc. He lives in France with his wife and 2 children.
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