For those of you unsure of what the term ‘ergonomics’ means, let’s begin with a short definition: ergonomics is essentially “the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment”. Without realising it, your work environment can have a direct effect on your mood, performance and general wellbeing. As an owner of a business, you want to ensure that your employees have a safe and comfortable place in which to work, because ultimately, happy employees are productive employees.
For those of you unsure of what the term ‘ergonomics’ means, let’s begin with a short definition: ergonomics is essentially “the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment”. Without realising it, your work environment can have a direct effect on your mood, performance and general wellbeing. As an owner of a business, you want to ensure that your employees have a safe and comfortable place in which to work, because ultimately, happy employees are productive employees. Very often, those who spend many hours sitting at a desk suffer from aches and pains associated with their sitting position and general working habits. With a few simple tweaks though, your work space can be transformed to become more comfortable and supportive, and ultimately, something that facilitates good work, rather than hindering it. What follows are five things you should be aware of each time you sit down at your desk.
All things chair
Your chair is the most important piece of office equipment you will ever own. Ideally a chair with lumbar (back) support is preferable, and the support should be positioned in the curve of your back. Movement is also key – unlock your chair so that you can move back and forth. This will help to free up your back muscles a bit more, hopefully preventing that feeling of stiffness. In terms of height, you always want to make sure that your hips are slightly higher than your knees. This opens up the hip area and puts less strain on the lower back. Make sure you sit with your feet flat on the floor as well.
The height of your desk actually depends on the height of your chair. For example, if you need to raise your chair to allow your hips to be higher than your knees, you may have to also raise your desk slightly too. The important thing is to get the height of your chair right before looking at your desk. In the end, when sitting nice and close into the desk and resting your arms on the desk, you want to have about a 90 degree angle at both your elbows. If you sit at a desk that is too high for you, you will find increased tension in your shoulders as you’ll effectively be reaching up and over the desk, causing a build-up of strain in the shoulders. The golden rule: get your chair height right first, then look to get your desk sorted.
Helpful hint: if you have to raise your chair considerably to make sure those hips are a little higher than those knees, then simply use a footrest to make up for the distance – don’tlower your chair!
Everything has its place
When it comes to where equipment should be placed on your desk, remember that in most cases, close is best. Your screen should be positioned at roughly an arms’ length away from you – if your screens is miles away, you’ll be more tempted to slouch forwards in your attempt to get closer to the screen. When looking straight ahead, your natural eye line should fall within the top third of your screen. If you’re looking straight over your screen, then that means you’ll be looking down unnecessarily on a regular basis. Use something to boost your screen – you get monitors stands, but a stack of paper can always work well too. Also make sure you keep your keyboard and mouse close by – over-reaching for your mouse can put a lot of strain on your shoulder, and if your keyboard is too far from you, you’ll end up leaning forwards all the time, which will ultimately result in hunching. Keep everything you need within arms’ reach.
Take a break
Getting up regularly from your desk and walking around for a few minutes can really help to loosen up the back muscles and prevent a build-up of strain. Many back problems are due to people not getting up enough and sitting for long periods of time. Ideally, take a break every half an hour or so, even if that means standing up at your desk and stretching for a few minutes. It really works so be sure to take regular breaks throughout your work day.
Posture is important
Remembering to sit correctly at your desk all day long can be hard, but it’s important you try. Make sure you sit upright (avoid slouching) with your back firmly against the backrest of your chair. Constant contact with the back of the chair will give your back the support it requires. If all your equipment is in its correct place, it will help to reduce those elements that can negatively impact on your posture and overall back health.
There are little things we can do to improve how we sit at our desks and since we spend large portions of our days there, it’s worth it in the long run. It pays to invest in some quality office chairs to ensure that it’s easier for your employees to be comfortable and therefore, more productive.
Speaking of wise investments… Why not also consider investing in a quality system that can help you handle your payroll each month? Look no further than Sage One Payroll.
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