In our recent blogs we have looked at the benefits of using two or more monitors and how best to set them up, as well as the correct way of sitting so that you are comfortable and pain free. However, all of this good work could easily be undone if you fail to organise your desk in an ergonomic fashion.
So this month, we take our blog back to basics, concentrating on how to arrange your desktop space in such a way that you don’t strain or stretch unnecessarily in your day-to-day tasks.
These days a laptop is a very popular option for working on at home and at the office. This is perfectly acceptable, but you should take steps to ensure that it is correctly positioned on your desk in order to be ergonomic for your workspace. In terms of height, you can use a laptop stand to adjust it to the required level for your eyes. Your hands may feel cramped however, with aches that may be caused by lifting them up off the desk to reach the keypad.
A simple solution for this is to keep your laptop on the stand, pairing it with a separate keyboard and mouse that can be kept at a desk level. These can then be altered to the correct working specifications we are about to go through.
Your hands and fingers need to be completely comfortable in order to avoid conditions such as repetitive strain injury or wrist strain. The height of your keyboard should ideally be 1-2 inches above your thighs so that you are not forcing your arms to be up in the air to reach. The keyboard needs to be tilted, ensuring that your arms and hands follow a natural slope down towards your thighs.
If the number pad on your keyboard is on the right, then you ideally need the B key to be directly in front of you to the centre. This ensures that you are not leaning or stretching unnecessarily. Laptop riser stands and platforms are an excellent way to correct your typing angle.
Your mouse should be positioned so that you can have your arms at or below a 90 degree angle, with your elbows by your side. It should be placed level to your keyboard, but a little distance apart from it.
Your mouse should be comfortable for the size of your hand, so that it does not ache from stretching. One way to achieve this is by using an ergonomically designed mouse such as the Evoluent Right Hand Vertical Mouse. This will allow you to keep your hand in a comfortable and relaxed handshake position, with easy to reach programmable buttons and scroll features.
The best way to achieve an ergonomically friendly desktop space is by removing all non-essential items. Keep only the things that you use on a daily basis and put everything else in drawers. Use cable ties above and below the desk to keep things tangle free and to avoid the need to lean over and unwind your wires. Make sure your phone is within an easy arms reach, as well as floor essentials such as a waste bin.
It can sometimes help to have a workload system in place, such as keeping your to-do pile on the left and then your current work or finished work on the right. This prevents the need for stretching over the desk looking through unorganised piles of papers. Don’t keep too many personal items on the desk, as this will only cause more clutter that you will often need to tidy, adding to your twisting and stretching. A height adjustable monitor riser with a storage drawer can help you to keep your desk tidy, with those non-vital accessories kept neatly out of the way.
Using a writing slope and document holder to organise your paperwork is also a great idea, allowing you to look between your document and the computer screen without needing to look down or stretch your neck to read something that is just out of reach.
If you are regularly spending long hours at your desk, don’t forget to keep good posture and don’t slouch! Keep your back and shoulders relaxed, taking regular breaks to enable you to stretch your limbs. Make sure that your chair is positioned at the correct level, as well as your monitors, whether you have one or multiple.
Consider a standing desk option, which will certainly assist in your general health and well-being from not being sat down all day. You may also need to retain your brain a little, as it can be very easy to set up a perfectly ergonomic workspace, only to fall back into bad habits.