Let’s be real: having to work every day can be a real pain in the neck — literally, in some cases. If you’re hunched over your desk staring at a computer screen for eight hours on end, you’ll probably feel physical discomfort just about everywhere. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A more ergonomically friendly office can improve your productivity, alleviate health concerns, and even improve your corporate culture. Whether you work from home or commute to the office every day, here’s how to make some necessary environmental changes that will do a body good.
Obtain Some Adjustable Chairs
According to recent reports, Americans sit for 12 to 13 hours per day on average. If your work requires you to be in front of a computer monitor all day, you may sit and stare at technology for even longer. For those dealing with back pain and neck pain, it’s likely that the way in which you’re sitting has a lot to do with your physical discomfort.
At home, you might be fine sitting on a sofa for a couple of hours while watching television. As long as the seat cushions provide enough padding (the density should be at least 1.8 pounds per cubic foot) and high-quality materials are used, you probably won’t have too many complaints. But you can’t exactly sit back and relax when you’re working, and your computer chair may be to blame for how drained and sore you feel at the end of the day. A chair that can adjust to the specifics of your body is best, so look for a model that allows you to adjust the height and lumbar support. The seat pan should be at least one inch wider than your hips and thighs on both sides but should not be so long that the backs of your knees hit the edge when you sit all the way back. If possible, look for a chair that can recline or that can allow you to sit back while working, as this will actually put less strain on your body. A saddle stool may be an option for people who want to encourage their bodies to be engaged while sitting, as it can discourage the negative effects of spending too long in a cushier seat.
Get a Sit-Stand Desk
There’s a lot of debate surrounding the merits of the standing desk. Although too much sitting can be harmful, other experts argue that the benefits of standing desks are a bit overstated. In some cases, too much standing can actually be detrimental, too. And since 46% of HR professionals cite retention as their greatest concern, getting rid of the ability to sit and work may not be the most thrilling news to employees.
Although the cardiovascular advantages may not be as clear as some claim, a sit-stand desk can provide the best of both worlds. Traditional desk heights are actually made for writing, not for typing, which can exacerbate aches and pains. Sit-stand desks encourage you to change positions throughout the day, which is really the best thing you can do. The sit-stand desk’s adjustable height makes it a more versatile option that allows employees to choose the most comfortable options for them, rather than trying to conform to an industry standard. If your boss isn’t exactly keen on the idea of an upgrade, remind them that ergonomic investments can provide a 10-to-1 return and will reduce the prevalence of employee absence and accidents due to preventable injuries.
Think About Your Layout
Once you have the correct furniture, you’ll need to take a closer look at your setup. Are your most-used objects within close reach? How you use your tech, for example, can have a big impact on how comfortable you actually are. If your computer mouse is positioned far off to the side and it isn’t comfortable in the palm of your hand, you may have to strain to reach or could even deal with carpal tunnel syndrome as a result. Keep your keyboard centered and ensure your computer monitor is positioned straight ahead of you so that you don’t have to tilt up or down to see it clearly. If you view paper documents on a frequent basis, invest in a document holder so you don’t have to strain. You may also want to increase the size of your monitor and invest in better lighting so that you can see more clearly. Be sure to take frequent breaks throughout the day to stretch and rest, too.
Having a more ergonomically correct office space may not eliminate all your sources of stress — but it can certainly combat the physical strain we associate with work. So if you’re tired of ending a long day in physical pain, you might want to consider ergonomic improvements that can really make a difference.