Use Ergonomics to Get More Comfortable at Work
Sitting for eight hours a day in front of a computer can feel like a long time, especially if you’re uncomfortable. The more exhaustion or pain you feel, the more likely you are to slouch, lean forward, and degrade your posture even further, which leads to even more discomfort.
So, what can you do? You’ve probably heard about height adjustable desks by now, but maybe you’ve tried one and you’re still having back pain. Most likely, the problem is that you’re not using your desk to its full potential.
Your desk, your chair, and even your monitor and keyboard should all adjust to fit you. This concept of designing and adjusting the workstation to fit the worker is called ergonomics. A properly adjusted workstation can improve your comfort and productivity, and it can also decrease stress on your bones and joints — the same stress that leads to nasty conditions like spinal dysfunction and joint degeneration.
Slouching and hunching becomes a habit for many people, and trying to straighten up will probably feel less comfortable at first if you’re not used to it. However, you can avoid a lot of that initial discomfort if you have a workstation that supports your healthier posture. We’ll walk you how to do just that in this blog.
First, check out the quick ergonomic tips we’ve listed next. Then, keep reading for more in-depth tips on how to position and adjust your workstation for optimal comfort.
Office Ergonomics Fundamentals: It’s All in the Angles
- 180°: Keep your wrists level, relaxed, and parallel to the keyboard when typing or using a mouse. Bend your fingers, not your wrists.
- 180°: Avoid hunching forward or down while sitting. Keep your back straight and semi-reclined against your backrest.
- 90°: Keep your elbows at an open 90-degree angle with your shoulders (which should be relaxed).
- 90°: When sitting, keep your knees bent at 90 degrees, with your feet flat on the floor.
How to Adjust Your Desk for Optimal Comfort
Movement is crucial to both health and productivity, which is why experts agree that switching between standing and sitting is the best option. Height adjustable desks let you fine-tune your workstation to accommodate a healthier and more comfortable way of working. Whether you’re standing or sitting, it’s crucial to maintain a straight but relaxed posture.
For a standing position, the main areas of concern are the neck, shoulders, and wrists. Adjust your desk so that your arms are parallel to the surface and keep your elbows at about a 90-degree angle. This leaves your shoulders relaxed and makes it easier to keep your wrists straight.
When you’re sitting, your back becomes the biggest area of concern. Slouching or hunching strains the discs of your back, which can cause significant pain and disc damage when you slouch day after day.
Determining your optimal seated desk height requires two steps:
- Adjust your chair so that your feet are flat on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Adjust your desk so your elbows bend at a 90-degree angle while your arms hover just over the desk.
One of the benefits of electric height adjustable desks is that you can adjust them daily with little effort. Depending on the sole height or heel height of your shoes each day, you may need to nudge your desk up or down a little to keep your arms and legs in the correct position, but this is no problem with a height adjustable desk.
Adjust Your Other Furniture and Tools to Accommodate Your Desk Height
Now that you’ve got your desk in the right position for good posture, you should adjust your chair, monitor, keyboard, and other workstation tools to match.
Adjusting the height of your chair is the next change you need to make. Chairs can range from highly adjustable and intelligent to completely fixed, so you may need to be creative with your chair if it’s not easily adjustable. Creative fixes can include sitting on an extra cushion, putting a pillow behind your back, and getting a footrest that allows your feet to touch the floor.
The back of your chair should trace the outline of your back. Since your lower back dips inward, the chair should also curve so that it cradles your back and allows you to relax backwards while sitting up straight.
Adjust your chair and position your body as necessary to meet the following ergonomic conditions:
- Height: Keep your feet flat on the floor and your legs bent at 90 degrees. If you can’t reach or are sitting on a stool-height chair, use a footrest.
- Depth: Leave 1–2 inches between the back of your knees and the seat cushion.
- Backrest: While keeping the gap between your knees and the seat, sit up straight and adjust the backrest forward so that your lower back is supported. If your backrest is not adjustable this way, use a pillow.
- Armrest: Position armrests below seated elbow height (your elbows should be parallel to the desk surface). If you can’t adjust the height of your armrests, then it’s better from an ergonomic standpoint not to use them at all.
Keyboard and Mouse Position
Many people don’t give much thought to the position or height of their keyboard and mouse. But when these tools aren’t properly positioned, it can lead to extra stress on your wrists and even your back.
- Height: Your keyboard should sit above your legs, about two inches from the tops of your knees (including the desk). The easiest way to position your keyboard at the proper height is to use a pullout keyboard that slides out below your desk.
- Centering: Center the ‘H’ key with the middle of your body by drawing an imaginary line from your belly button to the H.
- Angle: Many keyboards come with pegs that adjust the angle of the board. However, these adjustments usually break the cardinal rule of “keep your wrists straight,” so you should usually avoid them. A wrist pad that sits at the bottom of your keyboard may help straighten your wrists if you need an angled keyboard to work.
- Distance: You should be able to use both mouse and keyboard while keeping your arm bent at 90 degrees and comfortably tucked next to your body or resting on an armrest. This positions the mouse right next to the keyboard.
Monitor Height and Distance
Proper monitor positioning can not only improve your posture and comfort while easing the strain on your body, but it can also alleviate eye strain as well. You want to keep your neck relatively straight or slightly tilted downward while still being able to read the entire screen easily.
- Height: Most people’s screens are too high. Sit back in your chair and hold your arm straight out towards the screen parallel to the desk; you should be pointing at the center of the screen.
- Distance: Stretch your arm in front of you; the monitor should sit just about arm’s length from your semi-reclined working position.
- Angle: Our natural downward gaze reduces eye strain when staring at a computer. To accommodate this, tilt the bottom of your monitor towards you slightly. Not all monitors tilt, so you may need to get creative.
ZGO Solutions: Building a Workstation That Fits You
At ZGO Solutions, we offer ergonomic height adjustable tables and add-ons to help you work more comfortably and productively. Choose a style, customize it with color options and add-ons, and make it yours.
Ready to build your ergonomic desking solution? Contact us today to get started.
Cornell ergonomic workstation advisor. (2018, June). Cornell University Ergonomics Web (CUErgo). Retrieved from http://ergo.human.cornell.edu/ErgoTools/CornellErgonomicWorkstationAdvisor2018.pdf
Moyer, M. (2019, January 30). How to make your office more ergonomically correct. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/30/smarter-living/how-to-office-more-ergonomic-tips.html