Back pain, wrist discomfort, neck and shoulder problems--these are just some of the physical stresses associated with poorly designed workstations. And since even mild cases can lead to severe afflictions, ensuring the proper setup is vital to the health of both you and your business. "Studies have shown people are more productive when they have ergonomically appropriate offices," says Tom Albin, manager of Ergonomics Services for 3M Office Ergonomics in St. Paul, Minnesota.
It's usually inexpensive and easy to integrate ergonomics into the office. "People who work at home tend to work long hours," says Albin. It's vital, therefore, to find the most comfortable arrangement. Consider the following:
- Get up and stretch at least hourly, says Albin. Also, vary your positions--try reclining or standing in addition to sitting up straight. When typing, sit with your shoulders relaxed and your elbows hanging loose at your sides.
- Purchase the right chair. Features to look for include: a five-pronged stand, adjustable seat and height, lumbar support, and adjustable arm wrests.
- Make sure you have enough room to pull up to your desk and work comfortably. "You can get into all kinds of trouble if you don't have leg and knee clearance under the workstation," warns Albin.
- Minimize eye strain by focusing on distant objects every few minutes.
- When using the keyboard, align the tops of your knuckles with the tops of your forearms. Improper positioning, such as bending your wrist while typing, can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Reduce glare. Lower the overhead lighting in your office when using the computer, and use a desk lamp if you need additional light while reading.
- Adjust the monitor height so it's at or below eye level. View the screen at no closer than 20 inches.
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