Ow, My Back! Test Your Workspace Ergonomics (And Save Your Back)

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home officeWe tend to be more productive when we’re comfortable and healthy. One of the most important and easily overlooked elements of our comfort and health is the ergonomics of our workspaces.

If you work from home, you probably don’t have corporate guidelines ensuring that your setup is ergonomic. Plus, because of time and budget restrictions, you may not be doing everything you can to keep your body and mind working comfortably.

The Risks

Do you think your home office is fine because you feel fine? Don’t stop reading just yet! Even if you don’t have any recurring pain or discomfort right now, your workspace may still be unhealthy. Some long-term effects of a non-ergonomic work environment, especially for those of us who sit in front of a computer for most of the day, include:

  • Stress on your muscles and joints
  • Overall fatigue
  • Pain in your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, necks, or back
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Vision and eye strain
  • Tendinopathy and bursitis (caused by overuse and repetitive motions)

The Test

Here are the most essential ergonomic guidelines you should be following while you work.

Y / N My computer monitor is centered to where I am sitting, placed an arm’s length away and my eyes hit approximately 2″-3″ below the top of the monitor.
Y / N The lighting in my workspace is indirect fluorescent lighting that doesn’t flicker.
Y / N I sit in an adjustable chair that has lower lumbar support with my feet flat on the ground and my thighs parallel to the floor.
Y / N I follow the 20/20/20 rule. That means I take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and look at least 20 feet away.
Y / N I keep my wrists in a neutral position while typing, shoulders relaxed, and elbows at my side.
Y / N There is no direct glare on my computer screen from lights or windows.
Y / N I get up and stretch my back, hands, wrists, legs, neck and shoulders regularly during the day.
Y / N My desk is setup so I have space on either side of it and easy access to the rear for cables, plugs, wires, etc.
Y / N I don’t click too hard on my keyboard or mouse while working.
Y / N I use my elbow instead of my wrist to move the mouse, and use keyboard shortcuts whenever necessary (or I have a trackball or joystick mouse that limits the necessary movement).
Y / N I use a headset, earpiece or speakerphone for long calls.
Y / N I use a document holder to prop up paper I am reading from while I work.

Your Grade

If you answered “yes” to all of the items above you get a passing grade in ergonomics and less negative long-term health risks from your daily work. Congratulations! If not, make some changes to your workspace and see the difference they make.

The tips above were compiled from Healthy Computing, an authority in office ergonomics and safety.

More Resources:

How did you do? Do you make the grade with your workspace ergonomics?

Image credit: Henk L

Alyssa GregoryAlyssa Gregory
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Alyssa Gregory is a digital and content marketer, small business consultant, and the founder of the Small Business Bonfire — a social, educational and collaborative community for entrepreneurs.

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