Poor office ergonomics can lead to long-term worker health problems, decreased productivity, and ultimately the slow death of your business.

In this article, we’re going to talk in detail about desk ergonomics, how to prevent injuries in the workplace, and some handy tips to boost your productivity while decreasing fatigue.

But first things first.

What is ergonomics?

The term derives from the Greek word ‘ergon,’ which means ‘work.’ Accordingly, the meaning of ergonomics is to study the efficiency of people in their working environment.

The goal of ergonomics is to design and arrange workplaces to minimize the risks of injury. And, of course, to make the workplace more comfortable.

Every product you use in the office has a specific ergonomic which maximizes the efficiency of its use. Let’s take a look at them, one by one.

Chair ergonomics

Let’s face the truth.

Every day we spend roughly eight hours sitting in our office chairs. The chair is one of the most essential office ergonomic products. There’s nothing worse than an uncomfortable chair.

But even the best chair can lead to an ergonomic injury if you don’t know how to adjust it correctly. So let’s take a look at all the components that make a perfect chair.

Chair base

5-castor office chairs provide the best mix of stability and cost. While fewer legs on a chair make it cheaper, the five castors ensure you maintain a good balance at all times. 

Castors come in different sizes. You should consider your office environment to pick the appropriate castors.

Chair seat

It may sound like a joke, but you need to learn how to sit properly. The first and most important thing about your chair seat – you should be able to adjust it. Taller and shorter people will need different height cylinders.

If you place the chair too high, you’ll put extra pressure on the back of your legs, reducing blood circulation. If it’s too low, you put too much pressure on your buttocks and your internal organs. You also disrupt blood circulation in your lower legs.

Ideally, your seat pan should be adjustable, and its range – no more than 16.9” (43 cm). In other words, the front edge of the seat pan should not touch the crease of your knees, in the condition that your back is against the backrest, of course.

Chair backrest

The whole purpose of the backrest is to mirror the shape of the spine, following its natural, S-shaped curve. The spinal vertebrae at the bottom of the lumbar curve are the culprit for most back pain.

To ensure proper sitting posture, you need to sit with your back straight, your shoulders back, and your body weight equally distributed on both hips. 

In addition, your knees need to be in line with your hips, bent at a 90-degree angle.

Even the perfect position can make you stiff if you stay in it for too long, so try to change positions every 30 minutes.

Chair armrests

What do you do with your arms when you’re not using them? Armrests provide a perfect place to relax. Armrests are a must for an office chair, to the point where it feels unnatural not having them.

It’s even better if you can adjust their height. If the armrests are too high or too low, you won’t be able to rest your arms. Even worse, they will fatigue your back and shoulders.

Under desk footrest

Do your feet reach the ground when you’re sitting? They should. In case you cannot lower your chair to achieve an ergonomic sitting position, consider getting a footrest.

Footrests can help reduce fatigue, ease pain or discomfort in your feet, and make it easier to align your posture.

You can take things one step beyond with an ergonomic footrest. They come from various materials like foam, wood, and metal, so you can truly customize and create your own unique experience.

Desk ergonomics

Using an ergonomic desk setup is mandatory to achieve a healthy and productive working environment.

It does matter where you position your mouse and keyboard. Both should be set close together to avoid unnecessary reaching. As a general rule of thumb, place the objects you often use within arms reach.

If you have to get an object that’s further away, it’s better to stand up and get it instead of reaching towards it.

Keyboard ergonomics

The first thing for a proper typing posture is to align your keyboard with the center of your monitor. Use the ‘g’ and ‘h’ keys as a marker – try to center them to your belly button and monitor simultaneously.

Yes, that is not the ideal center of the keyboard, but it is the way we usually use it. Otherwise, if you center the keyboard to the perfect middle – the ‘;’ button, you’ll probably end up slightly twisting your face towards the monitor.

For maximum comfort, use a keyboard tray. It allows you to change the height and angle of the keyboard.

Mouse ergonomics

Choosing a mouse depends on your preferences – what feels comfortable to you. When gripping it, the mouse should partially fill the hand, leaving your thumb and pinky on the side. 

Don’t rely too much on other people’s recommendations and advice. What works for them might not be the best option for you.

Here are a few best practices to follow.

  • Hold your mouse loosely. Do not use a firm grip, as it will put pressure on your hand.
  • Use your whole arm and shoulder to move the mouse. Do not rest your forearm or wrist on the mousing surface.
  • Bent your elbow at a 90-degree angle.
  • Rest frequently. Move your hand from the mouse when you’re not using it.
  • Adjust your mouse speed to your preferences.

Monitor ergonomics

The minimum recommended size for an LCD monitor is 15″, though 17″ is slowly becoming the new standard.

You should place the monitor directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away from your face, and aligned with the ‘g’ and ‘h’ keys on the keyboard.

The monitor should be tilted back slightly so the bottom of the screen is closer to your eyes. Keep in mind that the top of the screen should be at eye level or slightly below. The idea is to minimize tilting your head back.

Bonus ergonomic safety tips

Here are some additional tips to keep your workplace cozy and safe.

Take frequent breaks

Achieving the right ergonomy at work comes through taking a lot of small breaks. So even if you follow all the other office ergonomics tips, you should not underestimate the power of pauses.

Taking breaks at work increases your productivity and gives you time to think about new information you’ve acquired. It also allows you to stretch your muscles and re-energize.

Specialists recommend taking a break for 15 minutes every 75 to 90 minutes. You can also consider using a standing desk to reduce your sitting time.

Watch out for cables

Take a look around your office floor. Do you notice any loose cables lying around, perhaps somewhere people pass through all the time?

If the answer is yes, then you’re looking at a potential cause of ergonomic injury. You don’t need me to explain what could happen if someone trips on the cables.

Prevention is easy. Simply remove the dangerous wires or secure them.

Use a headset

Some jobs require talking on the phone for many hours straight. So don’t be that person who’s talking with their phone between their ear and shoulder. Instead, equip yourself with nice headphones.

Your neck will be thankful, and you can use both your hands freely. Better productivity. Better safety. It’s a win-win situation.

Summary

Boost productivity in the office.

Embrace safety.

Forget about workplace injuries.

Invest in office ergonomics.

There’s nothing more important than health.