How to Create an Ergonomically Correct Workspace
From buying adjustable office furniture to sitting far enough away from your computer screen, here's what you can do to make working more comfortable.
There's more to creating an ergonomically-sound workspace than investing in a standing desk (although, that certainly is part of it). From large-scale details, like the depth of your desk, to unexpected adjustments (choosing a mouse that actually fits your hand size!), customizing your office—both at work and at home—to suit your height and overall size requires a multi-pronged approach says Dr. Mark E. Benden, Director of the Ergonomics Center at Texas A&M University. Ahead, his best tips for setting up an ergonomically correct workstation, including working with one monitor (not two!) and installing software that prompts movement (which is just as important as proper alignment).
Buy adjustable office products.
Dr. Benden suggests buying office products—from your desk to your mouse—that are adjustable. This includes your chair, an ergonomic desk that can be used either in a sitting or standing position, monitors that can can be adjusted by height (and tilted!). The smaller details of your workspace are just as important; purchase a mouse that fits your hand size, or pick up a split keyboard.
Consider the depth of your workstation.
Sit at least 24 inches from your monitor, advises Dr. Benden, who recommends "one large monitor over two separate monitors." The reason? "Most desks are not deep enough to comfortably support two big monitors. If you have a 24-inch deep workstation, you should only have one monitor. If you have a 30- or 36-inch deep workstation, you could have up to two. But, you need to be sitting back far enough to make viewing comfortable."
Use software that reminds you to get moving.
From an ergonomics standpoint, the best position you can be in at the office is your next position, Dr. Benden adds. "The best way to work is not in one particular posture—it's changing postures fairly often, maybe every half hour. So, every half hour you should be either up and walking or you should switch from sitting to standing." He advises making use of modern software "that will run in the background of our work stations and prompt us when it's time for change." "The better products can monitor what you're doing, whether you're sitting or standing, whether you're present at your workstation, and nudge you to change positions or take a break," he explains, and recommends researching which products you're most likely to use (Wellnomics and Enviance offer good options).
Optimize your space's air flow.
Something that's easily overlooked, especially when working from home, is air quality—which is actually a fundamental part of ergonomics. Believe it or not, offices typically often have better air quality than our homes. "Commercial spaces are well-regulated and usually LEED-certified, so they're really well done for humans," he explains. "Most of our homes are sealed up real tight, so we have small electric bills to heat or cool them. And as a result, the air inside can become kind of stale." If you work from home regularly, make it a priority to establish a solid air flow near your station—or get up for a walk around the block come your lunch break.