Best Office Practice
Ergonomics is a fascinating scientific discipline that studies the interaction between humans and parts of our environment, with the aim of helping us to optimise our health and wellbeing. According to the International Ergonomics Association, physical ergonomics is concerned with "human anatomical, anthropometric, physiological and biomechanical characteristics as they relate to physical activity. The relevant topics include working postures, materials handling, repetitive movements, work-related musculoskeletal disorders, workplace layout, safety and health."
So what does this mean for those of us who sit on chairs, in front of desks, typing on keyboards, clicking on computer mice and staring at screens for eight hours a day? Well, it's time to sit up straight and take notes -- these pointers from UCLA Ergonomics, the International Ergonomics Association and our own health archives could make all the difference between tired, strained bodies and a healthier, happier you.
Key office ergonomics
- Take regular breaks from sitting at your computer -- change positions, stand up, stretch your legs and look away from your screen and into the distance.
- Make sure the office is set at an appropriate temperature and adjust your clothing and notify supervisors if you're uncomfortable.
- Avoid long periods of repetitive activity and aim to alternate tasks.
- If you're being distracted by loud noises or conversation, ask your colleagues to respect the peace or drown out the sounds with headphones.
- Remove food scraps from your area.
- Clean your phone handset with bacterial wipes on a regular basis.
- Keep your phone, water bottle and other items you use regularly close to you, to avoid over-reaching and straining your body.
- Stay organised and up to date by using a diary and managing tasks efficiently. Have some plans to help manage your stress levels to avoid feeling anxious or overwhelmed at work.
- Bring in a few photos, motivating quotes or plants to personalise your work space and inspire you.
- Keep nutritious snacks handy when at work to avoid falling victim to unhealthy treats that will only lead to a sugar slump later in the day.
- Sit up straight in your chair and ensure the small of your back is supported and your shoulders are relaxed.
- Your feet should sit flat on the ground, making sure your thighs aren't feeling any pressure.
- Your knees should be horizontal to, or slightly lower than, your hips.
On the computer:
- Place the computer keyboard and screen directly in front of you.
- Don't tap the keys too hard to avoid putting strain on your fingers.
- Make sure your forearms, wrists and hands are all in a straight, horizontal line.
- Don't let your wrists rest on hard or sharp surfaces; use a wristpad if necessary.
- Clean your keyboard regularly to reduce dust and bacteria.
- The screen should be at least an arm's length away from you.
- Adjust the colour and brightness of your screen, if necessary.
- Blink frequently to keep your eyes lubricated.
- Gaze into the distance regularly.
- Keep glare off your computer screen.