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Give me five… tips to achieve a perfect workstation

05 February 2020

What can facilities and workplace managers do to support their employees so they feel less strained, more productive and overall, much healthier? Kleopatra Kivrakidou, channel marketing manager at Ergotron, shares five tips to achieve the perfect workstation.

In the UK, 40% of all sickness absence is due to work-related Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), including short-term back pain and more chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. For a large part of the UK’s working population, who spend a good portion of the day at a desk, that’s not good news. But as people become more aware of the potential of long-term health risks associated with poorly designed office environments, the demand for improved conditions becomes more apparent.

Thankfully, making small ergonomic changes to your workstation can have big benefits. Some of the key focus areas of ergonomics are (not surprisingly), computers, the desk your computer sits on, the chair on which you sit, the keyboard you use and how your hands work with it. These are typically products we use throughout the day to do our jobs, and if they’re badly designed, it’s we who suffer needless stress, fatigue, or even injury. 

1) Adjust that monitor
The ideal height of the monitor on your desk should be at – or slightly below – eye level, so that they look slightly downward when viewing the middle of the screen. Additionally, the monitor should be positioned at least 20 inches (51cm) from the eyes — about an arm’s length distance. If the screen is larger, add more viewing distance, which helps prevent eye strain. Adjusting the screen position will also help control screen glare. Don’t forget to tilt the monitor back 10° to 20° to maintain the distance between your screen-scanning eyes and the screen. 

2) The right chair can change everything
Having an optimally positioned monitor will not help if you’re not sitting comfortably. Use a comfortable, adjustable chair to make changes as you shift posture, ensuring that feet are always flat on the floor. The backrest should also be able to tilt and include strong lumbar support to avoid straining the structure of the lower spine.

3) Keyboards matter
The ideal keyboard height is even with the height of the elbows, tilted back by 10° so that the wrists stay flat, reducing the potential for muscle strain. Sometimes employees might find that their standard workstation is often too high for proper ergonomic positioning of the desk – if that’s the case, try an adjustable keyboard tray that extends below the work surface. 

4) Keep moving 
Human beings are not designed to stay sedentary for long periods of time, so even if your workstation is set up the right way, it’s important to try and move every 30 minutes if possible, even if it’s just to stand and stretch your back and arms. Using a standing desk is another way to introduce movement to your workstation – most are height-adjustable and can move up and down as you go from sit to stand, then back to sit again. Give your neck a break, by positioning your screen or work items directly in front of you to avoid having to turn your head so much. 

5) It’s all about the right lighting 
Last but not least is to ensure there is plenty of light in and around the workstation to avoid unnecessary eye strain. Natural light is best, but sufficient artificial light, supplemented by a desk lamp that can be switched on and off manually, will also help look after your eyes. Don’t forget to control any glare coming from your monitor by adjusting the screen’s position, and remember to rest your eyes too by occasionally focusing on an object about six metres away. 

Considering the growing awareness amongst businesses of the positive impact of well-designed workplaces and furniture on employee health and productivity, these five tips are a simple and easy way for both employers and employees to do more to create more comfortable workspaces that support better health, wellbeing and productivity.