Updated: Mar 24
Ergonomics: "the study of people's efficiency in their working environment"
Covid has changed the way we work. So much has changed and we have had to adapt, sometimes repeatedly. Personally, my entire frame of reference is now before covid or after covid! 3 Years on it is hard to sometimes comprehend what we really went through.
A big part of this adaptation was a period of working from home. For many people this has become a part or full time permanent change. This has caused people to rethink their work environment. From your desk/chair and work space, we have for the most part, a new appreciation for it. I would go so far as to say, almost everyone has had some musculoskeletal pain during this period and had to make changes.
Here I am focussing on physical ergonomics. Finding the best position is not a one size fits all approach. Each person has there own body shape, history of injury, weakness and strengths. You can get so much information online to try but if you still have trouble, best to get a personalised assessment to find the best solution for you. Considering you spend about a third of you day working, it is worth investing you time to get right, just like you should do for sleeping!
So why does it matter?
Reduced risk of work related injuries and illness
Improved mental insight
Better product quality
Improved employee engagement
Better safety culture
Take regular pause exercise breaks
Make sure that the weight of your arms are supported . If your arms are not supported, the muscles of your neck and shoulders may take extra strain.
Watch your head position, and try to keep the weight of your head directly above its base of support (neck). Don’t “crane” your head and neck forward.
Try not slouch. Sit forward in the chair or move your chair as close to your work as possible to avoid leaning and reaching. A chair with wheels and swivel also encourage regular movement.
The monitor should be placed directly in front of you, with the top no higher than eye level. The keyboard should be in line with your forearm, a slight raise under the wrist can be helpful for long periods of computer work.
Talking on the phone with the phone receiver jammed between the neck and ear is really bad practice. You know that’s true, so don’t do it!
Avoid eye strain by making sure that your monitor is not too close, it should be at least an arm’s length away.
Take steps to control screen glare, and make sure that the monitor is not placed in front of a window or a bright background. You can rest your eyes periodically for several seconds by looking at objects at a distance to give your eyes a break.
The feet should not be dangling when you are seated. If your feet don’t comfortably reach the floor use a footrest.
Cognitive and organisational ergonomics are the other two studies of ergonomics I won't cover here, and more job specific.