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Ergonomics for a More Efficient Office

Wed, 06/25/2014 - 9:46am | by jennaleesmith1

 When it comes to organizing and decorating your office space,everything from color schemes, furniture design and the location of the space all come into play when designing your space. But, in addition to the aesthetics, you should also consider ergonomics.

In a nutshell, ergonomics is the study of how we work, and specifically, how to help us work efficiently. A well-designed office should not only appeal to your aesthetic sense, it should meet several ergonomic criteria to ensure that you can work efficiently  and prevent injury.

Furniture

Your furniture should be large enough to accommodate your needs, but not so large that you can’t effectively navigate within your space. For example, if your office space is a 10x10 room, a giant executive’s desk might offer plenty of work surface, but it won’t work well for the space. The desk would be so big that won’t have room to maneuver around it, or even sit comfortably behind it. In that instance, it might be better to have a simple work station, and use additional small pieces for storage and extra surface area.

Your chair should have adequate lower back support and be adjustable so that you can keep your knees bent 90-degrees. Your desk should have an opening tall enough for you to comfortably fit your knees and thighs under it.

If your current desk and chairs do not meet this criteria, search for resources like Sitbetter that specialize in ergonomic office furniture.

Equipment and Supplies

Your equipment and supplies should be within easy reach. For example, your desk phone should be placed in such a way that you can reach the receiver without having to twist your body, or drag the cord across your workspace. If you talk on the phone a lot, consider a wireless headset so that you can continue to work as you talk without getting tangled in cords.

Arrange lamps and other desktop items so that you don’t have to crane your neck to see over or around them. This is especially important if you hold frequent meetings at your desk.

The top of your computer monitor should be at, or below eye level, and approximately one arm’s length away from your face. If the monitor is too close, or too far, it can lead to eye strain. If you use a laptop, consider using an external monitor set at the correct height. This will prevent the neck strain that can occur from staring down at a laptop computer screen.

Keyboards should be placed so that your elbows are bent 90 degrees when you use them. This might require you to install a keyboard tray under your desk to make this happen.

If you share space with others, place communal equipment like printers and faxes, in areas that are easily accessible to everyone but do not obstruct traffic flow.

Other Issues

Furniture and equipment aren’t the only factors t you should consider. The type of work you do is also a factor. If you spend a lot of time behind your desk, take frequent breaks to stand and stretch. Prolonged sitting can cause poor posture, which can contribute to back pain and to overuse injuries like carpal tunnel.

Step away from your desk for a few minutes. Even if you need to do a working lunch, consider taking five or ten minutes to walk around before you sit down to eat.

Making your office space ergonomically sound will help you be successful because it will allow you to work more efficiently. Even if you’re not doing a full-scale renovation, a few small changes can make a big difference in how you work.

There are several facets to ergonomics, and one article can’t cover it all. You can find more information and tips for ergonomics at the Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) website hosted by the US Department of Labor.

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