Whether you have rented office space or work from home you need to make sure that you are comfortable and that you make the most of the space. Too many business owners restrict themselves by only allocating a small desk or a cramped corner of the dining room, then wonder why they don’t like sitting there, avoid using it and aren’t productive when they do.
Create an area that you enjoy being in, if possible have a window you can look out of so you can stretch your eyes when working at the computer and I like to have wall space for pinning up reminders and visuals that encourage positivity and creativity and goals that I want to achieve.
We have 10 top tips to get you on the path to making your workstation more ergonomic and hopefully more productive:
- Work Area: When setting up a work area, make sure that the space is large enough for you to spread out comfortably and allows for a full range of motion, which can be a special concern for those with especially long arms and legs (not something I’m blessed with). You should leave plenty of room to arrange the items you use most frequently in such a way that there is no strain for you to reach them. If you are like me you will also need a space for the cat to sit in whilst she supervises the workflow.
- Laptops: It’s best to use your laptop on a desk rather than on your lap. If you use it frequently, you might be better served by using a separate keyboard and mouse rather than using the built-in keyboard and touch pad to reduce strain on your wrists and hands. Do try to resist the “curled up on the sofa” position which is where I quite often finish the working day – no good for your back and shoulders!
- Keyboard: If you spend a lot of your workday typing, where you place your keyboard and how you use it can greatly affect your risk for getting RSI (repetitive strain injuries). Your keyboard should be placed so that your arms are parallel to your thighs. If your desk doesn’t allow for this, try getting a keyboard tray. You’ll also want to do your best to use good typing techniques, keep your wrists elevated and not hit the keys too hard which is a vice of mine as a couple of clients have noticed when I’ve been sat in their office!
- Mouse: When setting up your desk, make sure to keep your mouse easily within reach and try not to grip it too tightly, as doing so can strain the muscles in your hand. If you find that using a mouse bothers you too much, try using an alternate input device like a trackball or a touch pad. I’ve yet to find a mouse that I’m completely happy with and generally stick to the touch pad.
- Desk: There is no one-size-fits-all desk, so choose one that is right for you. You can help reduce your chance of injury by getting a document holder, arranging your electronics within your reach and making sure that the area underneath your desk remains uncluttered.
- Chair: A good chair can do wonders, as sitting is much harder on your back than it might appear to be. Make sure to keep your lower back supported, and adjust your chair so that you can easily reach your keyboard and mouse. If this means raising the chair so that your feet don’t quite reach the floor, get a footrest to help keep your feet from dangling. I also like office chairs that spin round – very good for when I’m having a thinking moment and the cat likes to sit on the back and cling on while I do it. Gives us a small entertainment break when preparing for the next task.
- Monitor: Improperly configured monitors can cause a great deal of eyestrain, resulting in headaches and difficulty concentrating. Center your monitor in front of you at a comfortable distance, and adjust the brightness settings so that it’s easy on your eyes. Make sure to take breaks from staring at your screen, too. Glare can be a problem as well, and if you can’t seem to eliminate it, use a glass glare filter.
- Lighting: Common office lighting can often create a great deal of eyestrain by making your computer monitor difficult to see. Adjust your shades or lights as much as you can to reduce glare, and position your monitor at such an angle to light sources that reflection is reduced. It can be helpful to keep overhead lights dimmed and use a desk lamp for close work. Do look after your eyesight as much as possible or you will end up as blind as I am.
- Work Habits: You can arrange your work habits so that you don’t put undue stress on any part of your body. Make sure to take frequent breaks, get up and walk around, and change positions frequently so that repetitive tasks and static work won’t take their tolls.
- Phone: It can be tempting to multi-task and cradle your phone receiver between your neck and shoulder. However, this should be avoided, as it can create a great deal of strain in your neck muscles. If you need to have your hands free, try using a headset or put the call on speakerphone. I also understand the new iPhone 4s sends text messages and emails by voice activated software – pure genius, I need one!
Don’t let your work station put you off working!