Tech Solutions Library > Computer Ergonomics: Set Up Your Workstation to Avoid Stress
Tech Tips

Computer Ergonomics: Set Up Your Workstation to Avoid Stress

Working on a computer all day can cause serious discomfort or injury. The proper equipment and furniture can lower the risks of working long hours on a computer.
  • June 19, 2018

Working on a computer all day may not seem strenuous; however, it can cause serious discomfort or even injury. This is particularly true for individuals who do so for multiple hours a day, every day or even just several days a week. When we sit in front of a computer, we often do so improperly and without the appropriate support for our feet and wrists. Additionally, computer monitors are often situated too far away or too close to the people who are using them. The stress that this can cause results in eye strain, muscle fatigue, tingling and pain due to repetitive stress injuries or cumulative trauma disorders. These symptoms can become so serious that they impact a person's ability to work efficiently, if at all. For that reason, it benefits employers to invest in more ergonomic workstations for their employees.

Why Computer Ergonomics Is Important

Ergonomics is the study of designing a space, such as a workspace, to meet the needs of those who use it in order to maximize their efficiency. It does this through the arrangement of furniture and equipment as well as the use of tools that correct issues such as those associated with posture. When done correctly, ergonomics should help prevent injuries and reduce fatigue, soreness and muscle strain and increase productivity.

Arrangement of the Workstation

In general, a person should have a chair that's comfortable and offers lumbar support for good posture. They should be able to sit in a relaxed, upright position with their feet flat on the floor or supported on a footrest if necessary. The chair should allow them to position their elbows at a 90-degree angle, and there should be some form of foam padding to help support the wrists. The positioning of the keyboard and the mouse are also important, as one should not have to stretch to reach either. Use an ergonomically correct mouse and keyboard and situate them close to one another.

The positioning of the computer monitor is also crucial, as it should be at eye level to eliminate any bending or tilting of the neck, and it should be situated at a distance that's approximately arm's length or at minimum 18 inches. In rooms where lighting may cause a glare on the screen, invest in an anti-glare screen or tilt the monitor. Employees who share their workstations with others should always take a few moments to arrange their space to suit their needs.

Why Computer Ergonomics Is Important

Ergonomics is the study of designing a space, such as a workspace, to meet the needs of those who use it in order to maximize their efficiency. It does this through the arrangement of furniture and equipment as well as the use of tools that correct issues such as those associated with posture. When done correctly, ergonomics should help prevent injuries and reduce fatigue, soreness and muscle strain and increase productivity.

Take Your Body into Consideration and Adjust Patterns

Making changes to the workstation is only part of what it takes to eliminate potential problems caused by excess computer work. Issues such as eye fatigue can come from wearing the wrong glasses prescription, failure to wear a prescription at all or ill-fit glasses. People who currently wear glasses should see their eye doctor to have the prescription checked for the computer monitor distance and to have the frame adjusted properly. Those who do not currently wear glasses should tell their doctor about their issues with eye strain and have their vision checked for computer glasses. It's important to regularly look away from the screen when working; doing so reduces the strain that comes from staring at a monitor. To prevent stress on the wrists and back, it's important that people pay close attention to how they are sitting during the day. Ideally, they should sit upright and tall in the chair with their hips, shoulders and eyes aligned. Wrist strain can also be reduced by taking breaks, alternating movements or, if possible, switching which hand uses the mouse.

Move Around

When we are busy, it can be easy to lose track of time. The longer we sit without standing or moving around, the greater the risk of pain or discomfort becomes. A person should, ideally, remove their hands from the keyboard, stand up and take a quick 20-second break every 10 minutes. Every 30 to 60 minutes, however, they should take a break of 2 to 5 minutes in which they move around and stretch. This helps to not only prevent discomfort, but it also reduces fatigue and improves stamina.

Exercise and Keep Fit at Work and in General

Staying fit is crucial to staying healthy. It's also beneficial when it comes to avoiding potential issues related to computer use. In general, we can improve our cardiovascular health and build stamina by engaging in some form of physical fitness for a minimum of 30 minutes daily. Also, some of us may be able to perform small exercises right at our desk. These exercises can help them stay alert and it can also help reduce problems that can arise despite having an ergonomic setup. Additionally, short exercises can also reduce stress.

While at the computer, work out neck and shoulders stress by bending the neck to one side then the other. Some may also perform neck and shoulder rotations or slow shrugs. To exercise one's back there are stretch-up exercises in which the individual stretches up tall and holds before relaxing after several seconds. Arm exercises include rotating both arms as they are raised in front of the body. When rotating, stop when the palms are facing up, then rotate in the opposite direction until the backs of each hand are facing one another. Relaxing and shaking out one's arms is a relaxation technique that can help warm up the muscles.

Hands, wrists and feet are areas of the body that greatly benefit from desk workouts. To prevent or alleviate finger fatigue, spread the fingers of both hands so that they are far apart. Hold them in that position for several seconds before clenching both hands into fists, then relaxing them. To keep the wrists limber and reduce fatigue, place an elbow on the desk and use one hand to gently push on the palm of the opposite hand so that it bends toward the forearm. Hold this position for several seconds before repeating with the opposite hand. For the feet, flex and curl the toes and slowly circle each foot at the ankle clockwise and then counterclockwise. When eyes feel tired, people should try rolling their eyes both clockwise and counterclockwise.

Don't Ignore Problems

Some problems won't diminish, even after one's workspace has been ergonomically adjusted. Ignoring problems prolongs discomfort and can cause them to worsen significantly. If you experience constant pain, numbness, weakness or any problems that make it difficult or impossible to perform their work, they should contact their doctor immediately.



Shop standing desks that maximize ergonomic comfort while you work.
Share this article