The Human Office Workstation Ergonomics

The concept of the ergonomic workstation is gaining dominance in today’s workplaces. The nature of today’s work requires us to sit down for very long periods. Most of us work on computers, spending a great part of our lives being sedentary. Unfortunately, the tendency to move is inborn and anything that disrupts this natural behaviour is bad for your health and well-being. Thus, an ideal human office should provide you with the opportunity to move around from time to time. You need to stand up and walk around, stretch your body, perform some form of Yoga, and so forth.

Working while sitting for long periods can take a toll on your posture and cause back problems. In the long-term, you risk acquiring lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and heart problems.

The practice of working while standing and moving is gaining popularity in workplaces. For that reason, there is plenty of ongoing research on the ergonomics of personal office and workstations. According to Duncan Selbie of Public Health England,

[Small and medium-sized enterprises] are the backbone of the nation’s workforce and can kickstart a revolution in helping their staff to improve their health. People spend 30, 40 or sometimes 50 hours a week at work. That’s quite a unique opportunity for employers to use that big chunk of someone’s week to care for their health.

In the same vein, Humanscale observed that there is a shift in focus away from ergonomics of the traditional workstations to the workers outside. Thus, there is a focus on how you can improve comfort, bolster productivity and minimise injury when moving and working at home.

According to the International Data Corporation, there is a general trend toward mobile working as hot desking, Bring Your Device (BYOD) and activity-based cultures of working gain dominance among the flexible workforce.

1. Human Office at Home

With the rise of freelancing, many more people are working at home. However, issues have arisen concerning working from a couch. Cases of back pain and reduced productivity have become more common. It is recommendable that you buy a chair of ergonomic quality for your workstation.

Then, you can include task lighting, monitor arm and sit-stand desk. Go for a headset instead of holding a handset when sending and receiving calls at home. This action can go a long way in reducing pain and stiff joints, including neck, shoulders and elbows.

2. Commuting and Driving

Some people drive for long periods. Hence, if you are among them, ensure that you adjust the seat according to your height. The height of your knees and hips should be the same. Furthermore, ensure you have a clear sight of the road ahead. Lower the steering wheel and push it closer to you to avoid reaching out to it and straining your neck. When commuting using either an aeroplane or train, ensure you walk around and stretch throughout.

3. Mobile Devices

These include smartphones, tablets and laptops. They are convenient but not ergonomic. Finger movements such as swiping, holding and touching screens for long periods can cause pain at the fingertip. Also, when you repeat these awkward movements for long, your thumbs and fingers will be hurt.

Typing on hard keyboards can also injure your fingers. So, rest your fingers and thumbs periodically. Alternatively, do not use the same fingers over and over again. Use voice technology. Lastly, mind your back while on a laptop. Maintain an upright posture. Just be sure to avoid rounding your shoulders. Face the screen straight up.

Ergonomic human office space
Above: An ergonomic posture. Source: helm

4. Hammock Workstation

One expert rightly summarises what constitutes a hammock workstation:

And then habits…I try to take a two-mile walk every morning and evening. (I don’t do this nearly enough!) I’ve found that taking a ten-minute break every hour maximises my productivity and efficiency. (I think my brain and fingers just need a break at this point.) And of course, I try to stretch, do push-ups, or something of that nature on these breaks. (I let my body turn must at one point…not good.) And then good hydration and a healthy diet to maintain clarity of thought always help.

In conclusion, try as much possible to be in motion while working. You can adopt ‘walking meetings’, Yoga and standing desks.

Looking for more tips? Consult us at Hanzo.Design.

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