Eyestrain? Sore back? It is amazing how making even small tweaks to furnishings or work habits can make you more comfortable and energized over a long work day. To reduce your risk of injury, and improve your performance no matter where you work, consider these practical ergonomic tips.
Choose a flexible, agile seating experience that supports a range of postures, and your need to shift between different work tasks. Adjust the seat so your feet are flat on the floor. For a change of pace and a bit more comfort, move to a sofa, club chair or other soft seating while reviewing documents or making calls.
Consider a sit-to-stand desk that allows you to switch positions and postures through the day. For more movement while standing, add a balance board to help boost energy and focus. If a “sit-stand” worksurface is not available, use a combination of worksurfaces that offer both seated and standing height work postures, such as a dining table and a bar-height counter. Some people like to stand during virtual meetings, walk during phone calls, and sit for reading and computer work. Whatever your preferences, standing even occasionally during your workday is good for your health.
Lighting needs to be balanced for the task at hand. An adjustable task light will allow you to fine tune illumination for desktop projects as well as minimize glare, reducing eyestrain and headaches. To avoid glare on the screen, position the light to the side of the monitor, rather than behind or in front of it. For video calls, optimize visibility by having the light come in front of you, rather than a window behind you.
To reduce eyestrain, position your screen at least 20-30 inches from your face (an arm’s length). To decrease neck strain, the screen should be centered directly in front of you at eye height and tilted up a bit so that the screen surface is perpendicular to your face. Investing in a high-quality monitor arm will let you make these adjustments with ease.
When your eyes are focused on an object in the distance, they’re meeting optical infinity, in which eyes are totally at rest. Practice the “20-20-20 rule.” For 20 seconds every 20 minutes, take a break and look 20 feet away. Also, remember to blink more. People under normal conditions blink 12 to 15 times a minute, but those reading on a screen blink only seven times.
Take a short walk during your lunch break or before you hunker down in the morning. Use a wearable fitness device to remind you to stretch or do some yoga poses every hour. Build in opportunities to use stairs or add a few more steps. Instead of a thermos of coffee that sits on your desk all day, use a mug that requires a trip back to the coffee pot for a refill. Even better: take a walk to your local café in the afternoon.
Sunlight, even filtered through a window, has been shown to improve mood. Try to situate your workspace so you have natural light streaming in. If that’s not possible, walk around through the day or try working outdoors so you’re exposed to daylight and nature.
Plants reduce stress and create a feeling of well-being. Placing plants in or near your workspace can also help improve air quality and lower background noise.
A growing number of studies suggest that views to, or images of, nature boost memory and focus. If possible, select a work location with views to the outdoors and natural objects (trees, sky, clouds, greenery, etc.). If this is not possible, wood grain furniture and colors of nature such as blues and greens have been shown to boost productivity and creativity. Images of nature on your walls or screen saver can also provide similar benefits.