Tips for Setting up an Ergonomic Workspace

Today’s post is from Mike Moody of The Human Solution, an office furniture company specializing in ergonomic solutions. Mike writes about finding a chair, keyboard tray, and desk that will maximize productivity and minimize injuries. If you’ve ever experienced back pain after a long day at the office, this post is for you. At the end of the post, Mike recommends using an LED task light as part of your ergonomic workspace (as do we)! Enjoy …

Implementing an ergonomic workstation at your home or office can lead to a healthier, more comfortable, and more efficient workspace. Most people work more than 40 hours per week, and most of that work is done seated at a desk in front of a computer. It’s important to optimize your workstation to suit your body, your movements, and your work style in order to prevent injuries and discomfort and promote good health and productivity. Here are some tips for setting up an ergonomic workspace:

Find the Right Ergonomic Chair:
A good ergonomic chair will provide superior support and comfort for several hours each day. All ergonomic chairs should have these minimum requirements:

Seat Height Adjustment – You should be able to adjust your seat height. For optimum comfort, your knees should be kept lower than your hips, and your feet should be able to rest comfortably on the floor.

Lumbar Support – Ergonomic chairs should offer strong adjustable lumbar support. Ideally the lumbar support is independently height adjustable, and on some chairs, the depth and/or pressure of the lumbar support is also adjustable.

Seat Depth Adjustment – This allows you to adjust the depth of your seat so that the back of your knees are not bumping or rubbing against the edge of the seat. You should have about 1-4 inches between the front edge of your seat and the back of your knees for great leg support and healthy blood flow.

Back Height Adjustment – The height of the chair’s contoured back should be adjustable to allow you to position the contours of the back cushion for optimal support.

Back Angle Adjustment – You should be able to easily recline your chair back to a comfortable position. We recommend you change positions throughout the day or leave the back angle unlocked and rock at will.

Back Tilt Tension Adjustment – A tension control adjustment will allow you to set the pressure or force needed to comfortably rock back in your chair.

Arm Support Adjustment – The arms on your chair should be height adjustable. A better option: Armrests that are also width adjustable and offer a pivot for changing tasks.

Encourages Posture Changes – Changing positions throughout the day will lead to increased comfort and support. Your chair should allow you to move and flex and change positions easily as you work.

Get a keyboard tray:
Using an adjustable keyboard tray is the best way to keep your wrists in a natural and comfortable position while typing and using a mouse. It also eliminates any need to reach for your keyboard and mouse, helping to prevent repetitive stress injuries and other painful problems. If your keyboard and mouse are positioned too high or too low, you are forced to either raise your shoulders or bend your wrists in an awkward position to type. Your keyboard and mouse should be accessible at lap level and usable with your upper arms at your sides and your forearms angled slightly downward. It’s important to avoid reaching for the mouse and keyboard and start bringing your work to you. A good ergonomic keyboard tray will easily adjust both height and tilt while providing enough space for your keyboard and mouse.

Use a monitor arm:
We spend several hours staring at a monitor screen every day. Correct monitor placement can reduce eyestrain and neck strain and lead to a more comfortable working position for years to come. Using an adjustable monitor arm makes it easy to position and reposition your monitor at the correct height and depth for changing tasks. So where should you place your monitor?

A monitor should be placed at a minimum of 25” from your eyes, or slightly less than arms length from your body. (Consider increasing the font size on your screen if you have trouble reading.) You should not have to move your head and neck forward or backwards to view your work on the screen. Your head should always stay relaxed. The entire monitor screen should always stay within the range of 15° and 50° below eye level. You should be able to view the entire screen easily without having to force your head up or down.

Get a Height Adjustable Desk:
Sitting for long periods can be detrimental to your health. We fail to activate core and leg muscles while sitting for long hours each day, causing us to burn fewer calories. Sitting at your desk for several hours also places increased loads on the spine, especially in slouched postures, and can cause severe back pain and injuries. Using a Sit-to-Stand Height Adjustable Desk will allow you to go from the sitting position to a standing position at various points throughout the work day. Standing on the job for the recommended amount of time (at least 15 minutes for every hour) increases blood flow, promotes respiration, and studies have shown that it increases cogitation. You can burn 40% more calories while standing instead of sitting. Standing is also easier on the back when compared to sitting as it decreases loads on the spine, which can help prevent work injuries. We also know that standing while working helps increase blood flow and energy. We recommend electric height adjustable desks, which can rise to your desired standing height with the push of a button and back down to sitting height again with ease.

Use a Task Light:
Lighting is also an important part of workspace ergonomics. Finding the right lighting solution means finding a task light that’s easy to adjust, offers a strong, focused stream of light, and is also energy-efficient. We highly recommend LED task lights, as they’re brighter, more energy efficient, and they last longer than fluorescent and incandescent lights.

Thanks, Mike! To read more about ergonomic workspaces, check out The Human Solution’s ergonomics blog.

Emily Widle

Emily graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism. She enjoys scouring the news to report on the latest in the lighting industry as well as bringing valuable remodeling tips and exemplar home projects to light.