Workstation ergonomics is a huge topic of discussion that can be confusing for many. The reason for all the confusion is simply that workstation ergonomics is not an exact science. By this I mean that work station ergonomics takes into consideration everything from the desk, the chair, the amount of light in the room and even the air temperature of the room. What’s worse is that all these factors are dependent upon one variable, you! All these things are dependent upon you as an individual and therefore will not be the same for everyone in your work place. Like Goldilocks and the three bears, some like it hot, some like it cold etc. However, let’s not get bogged down by all this confusion, this blog has been written to help you cut through all the BS, see the wood for the trees and get your workstation ergonomics right for you! I will provide links through to any helpful life hacks that may get your workstation right for you along the way.
Let’s Get Started…
So where is the best place to start? Well, a good place might be to start with the desk setup. So there are some very easy rules of thumb to getting your desk setup as well as possible for yourself and no-one else! Tip the first: your PC/computer monitor(s) should be within reach of your outstretched arm. So if you hold your arm out in front of yourself whilst sitting at your desk, you should still be just about able to touch the monitor with your finger tips.
Tip the second is that your monitor should be high enough so that your eyes are within the top 3rd of the screen or below. So whilst you are sitting at your desk, you should not be looking down at your computer screen, instead the monitor should be high enough for you to look straight ahead with your eye as close to the centre of the screen as possible, or at least the top 3rd of it. To aid with elevating your monitor, try using a stand or some books or boxes. The picture below shows an easy way to build one using a shelf and some simple legs from Ikea, which we use in our office for working at in the clinic!
Tip the third is to have your monitor directly in front of you as much as possible. Whilst this is always difficult to achieve if you work with multiple screens at once, if you have a main monitor that you spend most of your screen time staring at, try your best to have it directly in front of your with your secondary screens either side or to one side.
With these simple tips, you may solve your issues with poor posture whilst working, in which case you are very welcome and you may stop reading from this point. If however, you are still struggling with some posture related discomfort whilst at work then keep reading. The obvious answer to this quagmire of occupationally related pain is to stop working entirely, I understand that this is not practical for most of us in this life, so we shall continue with some other helpful tips, tricks and desk accessories to help you soldier on! 😊
Standing Desks/Standing Desk Accessories
There is a real craze surrounding the standing desk idea and for good reasons! There is evidence that shows that standing, treadmill and evening cycling workstation desks provide a short-term benefits in productivity and improved health1. However, the same study also found that treadmill desks reduced computer based task performance, so choose wisely! There is also evidence that children perform better in school and report less back, neck and shoulder discomfort when using a standing desk compared to sitting desks at school2. So these strategies could also be considered for your children too!
The Flexispot E1 height adjustable standing desk provides a great option for either seated or standing use. Its height ranges from 71 cm (27.9″ in old money) to 121 cm (or 47.6″) giving your the choice of being seated or standing whilst working.
These desks are great for either home offices or work if your employer allows you to customise your workstation in such a way. If your employer does not allow for this then never fear my friend because I have some alternative options for you that allow you to use that crummy sitting only desk your work provides you with.
The Vivo height adjustable desk converter allows you to turn your crummy sitting only desk into a sit-stand desk swiftly and easily! This nifty desk converter sits atop of your normal desk that you place your monitors, laptop or all-in-one desktop on, and with a pull of a lever, will lift majestically to the whopping height of 43 cm (or 17″ in old money). The lever is connected to a gas strut making the desk converter feel much lighter than it actually is, thus taking the effort level down to minimum. To return it back to your normal desk height for seated working, pull the lever again and give the Vivo a gentle push downwards and it will return back to its shorter position on your desk. The great thing about this desk converter is it can come to rest at any height in between, making it useful for people of many different heights. However, this also means that the very tall and the particularly short may struggle with it, but it may well provide an easy solution to your standing desk worries.
For all you hard working warriors out there who do a lot of work on a laptop, you may often find yourself sitting using your laptop, on your lap of all places! This will therefore mean that your neck is flexed causing aches and pains in the neck, shoulders, upper back and even head aches. To help reduce this load burden on your body, this handy dandy laptop desk table can be used over your lap, elevating the computer and tilting the keyboard towards all simultaneously. This device also has helpful fans built into the desk top itself helping to keep your laptop cool, calm and collected.
The mouse pad next to it is a great addition, however it appears to be only available for those of us who are right handed. This is a new level of discrimination which shall not be tolerated! (LOL). Fear not and be not disappointed or shamed my friends whom are afflicted with the burden of left handedness, for there is a left handed alternative that, in my opinion looks much sexier and comes in black or white depending on your decor!
Sexy left handed version! Click me!
I really hope these devices help you with your desk top setup and provide you with some helpful life hacks to get back to being your normal super human productivity ninja self. However we are not done with our incredible advice yet so grab a coffee and settle in for more.
Desk chairs… Why oh why do these have to be so confusing, with their bewildering array of arm rests, high backs, low backs and swiveling madness?! Well the reason why they are confusing is because of what I told you at the start, ergonomics is not an exact science. Therefore there is no such thing as the perfect chair for all people. A great place to get started is with a chair with a high back, a head rest and arm rests. Nowadays, arm rests are short on desk chairs, allowing your to get closer to the action but still providing something to rest your elbows on. This is designed to put the wrists in a less stressful position and reduce over use/repetitive strain. However, this may not work for you if you have a longer or shorter upper body, or if your arms and torso meant well but never quite made a collective decision on who was going to be longer. However, the Sihoo ergonomic office chair attempts to solve this problem of arm rests, desk height and body size by having very mobile arm rests that can be adjusted up/down and side to side. It has a unique elastic lumbar support that adjusts to your body and can tilt backward to 114 degrees.
For all your hardcore gamers and YouTube’ers who spend vast amounts of time sitting playing your favourite videos games and posting your amazing videos online, I have for you the gaming chair for you! Well that is if you play your games at a desk, like a real job… Don’t worry, that was not a snide remark, that was a joke made by someone who is simply jealous of your amazing job that most of us wish we had! Joking aside, I am not going to act like your parents, I know gaming and being a YouTube influencer is a serious job that is incredibly competitive with big financial rewards for all your hard work! So, behold the Remaxe ergonomic gaming chair with its massaging lumbar support, racing style seat back and retractable footrest for all your gaming needs! This thing looks incredible and is capable of reclining to near horizontal with the footrest out. It has a 136 Kg (or 21.4 stone in old money or 300 lb in American) weight limit making is suitable for the sturdiest of shooters, racers and swordsman!
Super amazing gaming chair. Click me!
Fear not those whom are also jealous of the gamers and YouTube’ers who make enormous amount of dosh for playing video games at home in their underpants! I have also found a chair that also reclines with a footrest for your enjoyment also! The Hbada ergonomic office chair is mainly for those for whom working at a desk can easily be replaced with sleeping at a desk. Why the lady in the picture is in a fancy even gown with high heels on is beyond me. However, she does make desk work more of a leisure activity, which let’s face it, deep down, it is what we all want.
For may of us out there, office furniture is not within our control as we must make do with what ever chairs are left scared by many years of abuse. That most coveted chair that brings you in the office hours ahead of your colleagues so you make sure it is yours for the day. Like a certain nationality of holiday maker claiming the best sun beds at the hotel swimming pool by putting their beach towels down at the arse crack of dawn…
These chairs may not be in the best condition when you inherited it from your predecessor, with its single arm rest and beck rest held on with chewing gum. They can be given a new lease of life with some of these handy chair accessories that are cheap and ease to use, helping you get the best out of the old workhorse.
The Everlasting Comfort wedge seat cushion is a memory foam office and car seat cushion designed to support your lumbar spine by elevating your hips and tilting your pelvis forward putting you in an upright position and supporting the natural curve of your lumbar spine. When you sit on a seat that’s not supporting you correctly, it can cause the pelvis to rotate backwards, flattening the lumbar spine. This seat cushion also has a U shaped cut out of the back portion which makes it even usable on the oldest of office chairs that have their own spine connecting the seat to the back rest. So even the oldest of office ponies can be given a comfort upgrade.
If your office chair is not as old as the pyramids, another addition to your seat that provides specific support directly to your lumbar spine may be all you require. These mesh lumbar supports can be added to both your office chair and drivers seat if you so choose. Both these chair accessories are cheap and ease to use, making them affordable for you to add to your outdated chair without the need of the bosses approval!
Repetitive strain injuries (RSI’s) such as carpal tunnel syndrome and epicondylitis (or elbow pain for those of us not fluent in latin) are a common affliction of the desk jockey. These conditions can lead to significant pain, suffering and time off work causing unhappiness for both you and your boss. To tackle this much loathed plague of hard working desk worker, Logitech have created this rather fancy looking vertical mouse. The key feature is to put your hand and wrist in a more natural position, removing the over use and repetitive nature of operating the computer mouse of old.
If you still feel that your workstation is contributing towards your low back pain, then give us a call and we can book you in for a free posture screen or we can even come to your work and perform a workstation assessment for you and your work colleagues. Call us on 01635 432383 or email us to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dupont F, Léger PM, Begon M, et al. Health and productivity at work: Which active workstation for which benefits: A systematic review. Occup Environ Med. 2019;76(5):281-294. doi:10.1136/oemed-2018-105397
- Parry S, De Oliveira BIR, McVeigh JA, Ee J, Jacques A, Straker L. Standing desks in a grade 4 classroom over the full school year. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(19). doi:10.3390/ijerph16193590