I have been seeing a lot of people online who have been trying to “help” new work-at-home employees set up their workstations. While I know these people mean well, I have seen some graphics that do not present good office workstation ergonomics, and which can actually make you feel (and look) worse.
Good posture means that:
-Both feet should be supported by the floor or a footrest. This helps you to sit back into the chair, and helps you look slimmer, because hunching forward displaces our internal organs from where they are supposed to be. If you frequently put your feet on the rungs of your chair, then something is wrong. Lower your chair until your feet are supported by the floor, then lower your work surface or keyboard tray until the keyboard is about elbow height.
-Keep your knees at about 90-degrees and adjust your chair so the front of the seat pan does not contact the back of your knees. Optimally there should be a two-finger gap between the front of the chair and the back of your knees [and we are not talking about adult beverages!] (If the gap is too big, adjust the seat pan of the chair so it is “deeper.” If there is no gap, adjust the seat pan so the chair is less deep.
[Our team just finished completing hundreds of office ergonomics sweeps and people with long legs needed to adjust their chairs deeper. Some people with shorter legs needed to adjust their chairs so the seat pans were less deep. Everyone felt better!]
–Your office chair is NOT a fun-slide. Your thighs should be about parallel == with the floor. If your knees are too low relative to your hips, you will not have good support for your back. Not only will you constantly try to slide back into the chair, you will probably feel some extra lower back discomfort.
–Get your butt all the way back in the chair (the best way is before sitting down, grasp the armrests with each hand and literally “slide your butt” down the backrest of the chair.) [Seriously, it works!]
-Slightly recline in your chair. If we lean forward, it makes us look like we gained 25-lbs, our food won’t digest as well, and our respiration efficiency is affected, meaning we won’t get an optimal amount of oxygen to our brains–which is important not only during conference calls, but all day.
(Your keyboard and mouse work for you, not the other way around. Why are you accommodating them and leaning towards them? If you frequently lean forward, then all of the weight of your upper body is concentrated on your lower spine, which increases the risk for back discomfort. If you lean back into the chair, then the backrest of the chair absorbs most of the weight of your upper body. Seriously…it works.)
-Bring the keyboard and mouse towards you, so you can work with your shoulders relaxed, elbows about 90-degrees, and your wrists straight. [WRINKLES ARE BAD!]
-None of us is Louis XVI or Marie Antoinette. Your head belongs on your shoulders and not in front, to the side, or in back of them. Nor does it belong in a basket. If your head is forward of your torso, then it causes your upper back to deform, and can cause spine discomfort across your shoulder blades. Sit back into the chair and bring your head back onto your shoulders. It is much more comfortable!
Keep the top of the monitor screen(s) about eye level. If you wear bifocal or progressive eyeglasses, lower the screen practically to the desk surface (that’s what I have, what I do, and what works for me!)
Thank you for reading our tips. Be sure to contact QP3 ErgoSystems’ Ergonomics team for help “looking better” with remote office and industrial workstation assessments today, and to schedule our on-site, customized ergonomics training and assessment services for when things settle down a bit. Also feel free to call us at +1 (847) 921-3113, even just to chat…we’re all in this together!