If you’re reading this article I already know one thing. You or someone you know is sore while working at a desk. Am I right? Maybe your neck, shoulders or back? Something’s up and that’s why we’re talking about ergonomics. So here we have it. A lot of people jump to switching out their chair thinking that will change everything. Your chair, in most cases is the least of your problems. So what’s causing all of that grief?
Let’s talk about your monitor(s). When you look at your monitor are you looking straight forward, down or up? If you are not looking straight forward, this is the #1 thing to fix. Do whatever you have to do to patch this up quick. It doesn’t matter if you use phone books or a dictionary. Get your monitor lifted up. In the long run, you can consider mounting your monitor onto an articulating arm which will have height and position adjustments which you can make freely. A monitor mount will also free up a ton of workspace on your desktop, allowing for more paperwork.
Once your monitor is taken care of it’s time to look at your chair. Are the arms level with the desktop? They should be, this will allow your arm to comfortably rest on your arm rest and transition seamlessly onto the desktop of your workstation. Having your arm near a 90 degree angle and sitting up right will provide for correct posture. If you find yourself slouching, just sit up and correct your posture, this is entirely natural.
When you sit in your chair, is it comfortable? Does it fit the shape of your body and have correct lumbar support? Chairs are made for all different body types so it is important that when you sit in your office chair that it fits to the contours of your body. A great example I can give you is that in our office furniture shop we have chairs that we sell like water. We have a hard time keeping them in stock they are so popular, but the funniest part is that the only people who buy them are about 5’ 8” (give or take a couple of inches). For me, this super popular chair doesn’t offer any upper back support, for shorter people it fits them perfectly!
Since not all chairs are created equal, do some shopping around when you are looking for a good ergonomic chair. But as I mentioned above, as far as ergonomics go, chairs are not the #1 suspect though they are most often looked at first.
After you have your monitor and chair sorted out, start exploring a sit stand height adjustable workstation. These make a world of difference! It might be a strange thought for you to think about working at your computer in a standing position but coming from someone who has made the transition, standing at your desk might become more natural for you than sitting! If you’re not ready to make the plunge into a full electronic height adjustable desk think about trying a desk riser which you can set right on top of your existing desk however if you think standing might be a great solution for you, you’re already committed and would suggest to go straight for an electronic desk with presets.
So why jump straight into an electronic height adjustable desk? Well, the desk riser converter is about 1/3 the cost of a full height adjustable desk and to be honest, the desk risers take up a lot of desk space which could be better utilized for paperwork. So, think about it logically, standing up, with your head and shoulders square, facing forward is the #1 most ergonomic position to work in. When you make this change you will most likely only deviate from this position when your feet need a break. At that point, you just hit a button to lower the desk and bam, you’re sitting in your chair!
This is the main reason when I talk about desk ergonomics, I like to avoid even talking about working in a chair. Think about using the chair to sit and rest your feet. Once your feet are rested you will go back to standing at your desk, faced forward, arms square and elbows at a 90 degree angle.
I hope this information helps as you make your decisions with desk ergonomics. It might be counter to some popular belief that chairs are so important but things have changed, and getting up and out of your seat entirely could be viewed as the most important factor in desk ergonomics.