I’ve started to feel the aches that come with getting a bad work-space setup after years of slumping at a desk. The stiff chair, the too-high desk, and the cramped laptop keyboard have all become real annoyances (and shoulders and back and elsewhere). If your home office isn’t quite up to standard, it may be time to update the room ergonomically, particularly now that most non-essential companies intend to keep workers working from home indefinitely.
Experts agree that using an ergonomic workstation, which supports the body in a neutral position, will help reduce the risk of discomfort or pain caused by these stressors. This means that your neck isn’t twisted, twisted back, or twisted down; your arms aren’t raised or stretched out to the side of your body; your wrists and hands aren’t bent up or sideways; and your spine isn’t twisted. An ergonomic workstation allows you to sit comfortably at a computer for long periods of time. (However, you should remember to take breaks and travel at least every hour.)
Based on ergonomics experts’ recommendations and what Wirecutter has discovered over years of testing home-office furniture and gear, here’s how to set up a work space that best suits and helps you.
A chair that is both comfortable and supportive of your spine.
Take a seat at your workstation. Is your lower and mid-back cushioned while your back is pressed against the backrest, or are there gaps between your spine and the chair? The best office chairs include lumbar support, which helps to maintain your back’s natural S-curve. Alan Hedge, an ergonomics professor at Cornell University, told us that if your lower back isn’t covered by your chair, you need it.
We recommend the Steelcase Gesture for most people after our most recent round of office-chair testing because it’s highly flexible to suit a range of body shapes and sizes, with a supremely supportive cushion and adjustable lumbar support. It can cost up to $1,100 at sale, but you may be able to find one for a fraction of that price at a nearby office liquidation store or Habitat for Humanity’s Restores. (The HON Exposure, which retails for less than $300, is our budget pick.)
If you don’t want to spend the money on a new chair, a lumbar-support pillow and a seat cushion will make even the most simple non-padded chair comfortable to sit in for a few hours. A lumbar support pillow, which costs about $30, is particularly useful in helping you to sit properly, with your back against the backrest rather than leaning forward or sitting on the edge of your seat.
A desk that is the right height for you to use your keyboard
To minimize pressure, keep your arms and wrists in a neutral position when typing on a keyboard at your desk: parallel to the floor or bent down toward your lap. Typical desks are between 28 and 30 inches long, making them suitable for people who are 5 feet 10 inches or taller.
There are a few options for dealing with this. To lower the keys, consider mounting a keyboard tray under your desk or raising your chair so your wrists are above the keyboard. If you lift your chair, make sure your feet stay flat on the floor; if they don’t, you’ll need a footrest to give your legs and feet the support they need.
Since there are so many moving pieces, achieving the ideal ergonomic configuration can be difficult. According to Cornell University’s Ergonomics Web, setting the work space — including your desk, chair, and monitor — at the optimum height for all five major office tasks is impossible: Different heights are needed for different activities such as typing, mousing, writing, reading papers, and viewing your computer. A decent adjustable-height standing desk, which costs about $650, provides the perfect fit because you can change the height in half-inch increments and move between sitting and standing at regular intervals during the day.
A keyboard that is both comfortable and functional
Here’s another task: As if you’re going to write, place your hands over your keyboard. Now spread your hands shoulder-width apart, so they’re on your sides. With less tension on your shoulders, this should feel relieving and calming. Most keyboards aren’t built for this role, forcing your hands inward and hunching your shoulders.
An ergonomic keyboard keeps the wrists in a neutral position by having a narrow, flat profile or tilting forward (the space bar is higher than the top row of keys). “If there are feet that pop up on the edge of your keyboard, do not use them,” Peter Keir, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario, advised. They work by extending your wrist, which most people already have.”
A completely split keyboard, such as the Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB, for about $210, is the most flexible ergonomic keyboard. It allows you to space your hands shoulder-width apart and relax your shoulders on each half of the keyboard. Since typing on a split keyboard has a steep learning curve, you may want to go for a partially split model, like the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard (about $65), or at the very least a keyboard without a number pad, like our favorite mechanical keyboard, the Varmilo VA87M (about $140). The mouse is held closer to you on keyboards without a number pad (also known as “tenkeyless keyboards”), eliminating the burden of getting your arm extended constantly.
A mouse that fits in the palm of your hand
Repetitive movements on your laptop’s touch pad or a regular mouse can cause exhaustion or discomfort in your fingers and wrists, just as repetitive typing can. Most people should look for a mouse that is both convenient to hold and easy to maneuver. For around $50, we considered the Logitech M720 Triathlon Multi-Device Wireless Mouse to be the best wireless mouse for a variety of hand sizes and grips. Consider a form of input system that eliminates fine wrist movements, such as a stylus with a graphics tablet or a trackball, if using a mouse causes discomfort or weakness in your wrists. Both of these methods will help you hold your hand in a neutral position.
A monitor placed at a convenient height and within easy reach
Make sure you can clearly see what’s on your computer or laptop screen without having to crane or bend your neck to avoid eye strain and exhaustion. Place your monitor two to three inches below the top of the screen and about an arm’s length away from your face.
Any flat and large item, such as a stack of books, can be used to lift your laptop or monitor as required. Consider a laptop stand, such as the Rain Design iLevel 2 (about $55), or a display arm, such as the Fully Jarvis (about $100), for added stability and power. Both are extremely adaptable.
Healthy lighting is recommended by ergonomics experts to reduce eye strain and prevent craning the neck. Natural lighting in your workspace is perfect because it can improve your mood and energy while reducing eye strain — sunshine and access to outdoor views allow your eyes to relax and recover from the strain of staring at a computer screen. If your home office doesn’t have lights, or if you’re working late or on a gloomy day, combine overhead lighting with job lighting for the best lighting balance to help you concentrate. The Bronze Turnbuckle LED Desk Lamp by Franklin Iron Works costs about $135.
Anything that can help you relax when you’re at work is a plus.
Your muscles will tense up as a result of some form of stress or anxiety. As a result, have items in your work space that will assist you in relaxing. These products may include the following:
- Noise-cancelling headphones can be used to block out distracting sounds.
- Give a touch of nature to your desk with a houseplant.
- An essential-oil diffuser, which will infuse your room with perfume and help you feel calmer or more alert.
Above all, you can experiment with your setup. Alternate between sitting and standing by raising or lowering your monitor, adjusting your chair, or raising or lowering your monitor. Then, after 30 minutes or more, take note of how your body feels, and fine-tune until you reach the Goldilocks stage of your work space being “just perfect.”
If you’re working from home indefinitely, it may be time to upgrade that home office. Focal Point Business Center one of the best choices for business centers in Dubai and the industry leader in providing virtual offices in Dubai gives you these 7 things you need for an ergonomic workstation.
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