We all need a bit of stress release. But when it comes to office ergonomics, few small business owners realize the power they have to reduce the stress on your body and improve productivity over time.
According to Statistics Canada, over two million Canadians suffer from repetitive strain injuries, and more than half of these injuries are caused by work related activities.
Little changes like moving your mouse or changing your monitor position can make a big difference in the way you feel. Take just 10 minutes to adjust your workstation and you’ll instantly reduce the stress on your body. Want to find out more? Here are seven basic tips to get you started.
- A Supportive, Adjustable Chair is Important. A supportive, adjustable chair is a worthy investment. Make sure it fits you correctly and can be adjusted to provide a comfortable work environment. Look at your chair height. Are your feet supported? Is your lower back supported? Most chairs have adjustments on the back rest to make sure your back is well supported. Lastly, do your arms rest comfortable on the armrests when your shoulders are relaxed? If they prevent you from turning your chair, or place your chair at an uncomfortable distance from your desk, then remove them.
- Adjust Your Monitor. Most monitors have a height adjustment built in to the back. Raise or lower the height of the monitor, so the top of your screen is at eye-level when you’re sitting in your chair. Make sure that your monitor is directly in front of you so you’re not turning your neck. If you tend to have multiple windows open simultaneously, consider adding a second monitor.
- Accessorize Your Laptop. Laptops encourage bad posture because of their screen height and angle of the keyboard. If you are using your laptop for extended periods of time, add an external keyboard and mouse. Adjust the keyboard so that your wrists are straight, put the mouse beside the keyboard and use the laptop as the monitor. Raise the laptop so that the top of the screen is at eye-level. This way you can make sure your wrists and your neck are in a good position.
- Keep Your Wrists Straight. Keeping your wrists in line with your forearm can help prevent hand and wrist problems. Raise or lower your keyboard or chair so that your wrists are straight. Note: If you have to raise your chair, you may need a foot rest so that your feet are supported.
- Remember to Move. It has been said that sitting is the new smoking. An increasingly sedentary lifestyle and the amount of time spent glued to a screen can lead to a variety of health and musculoskeletal problems. One of the best things we can do for our health is to stand up more and move. Stand when you are on the phone, schedule a walking meeting, or just take a quick walk around the office.
- Get a Headset. If you often talk on the phone while using your computer, consider getting a headset. Cradling the phone between your neck and your shoulder will increase muscle tension, and lead to back and neck pain.
- Learn Keyboard Shortcuts. Shortcuts can reduce the amount of time you use your mouse, which can help reduce wrist injuries. Get to know the shortcuts for your computer. Check out these shortcuts for Microsoft and Apple keyboards.
For more information and tips on how to make your work environment more ergonomic, take a look at the WorkSafeBC guide, How to Make Your Computer Workstation Fit You, and Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ office ergonomics online course.