1. Profile photo of Mark VanPatten

    Making your work space, whether it’s a cubicle on a windowless floor or a sun bathed home office, ergonomically correct will pay dividends in increased efficiency and productivity in the long haul.

    1. Make sure you have enough space to set up your office work area. Assess your essential needs and anticipate a location for each that will be within easy reach when needed. Foremost is your comfort. Ensure you can have a full range of motion without cracking an elbow or whacking a knee on a regular basis.
    2. If your work is done primarily on a laptop, plan on using it on a surface other than your lap. As you know, laptops do get uncomfortably warm, but more importantly, from an ergonomic standpoint, you will be better served by using a mouse and separate keyboard instead of the laptops touch pad and keyboard.
    3. Place your keyboard carefully. Serious injuries, called Repetitive Stress Injuries, may result from using a keyboard that is placed improperly. The keyboard should rest so forearms are parallel to thighs. Use a wrist rest if you do not have the discipline to elevate your wrists while typing.
    4. Leave room for the mouse. It is ergonomically important that you don’t have a death grip on your mouse. If you find yourself tensing using a mouse, you might want to give a trackball a try.
    5. Obviously, the most important part of any efficient and ergonomically friendly office work space. There is no one "best desk." This is where you need to get out and do some trial and error. Ask friends and family to let you do a trial sitting at their work desk. Visit the office furniture showrooms and make the tour of the sample settings for your sittings. Make sure to keep the area beneath your desk free from clutter. Changing your position on a regular basis, means moving your feet as well as the rest of your body.
    6. The most important part of an ergonomically correct and efficient office work space is your chair. If you have to buy your own to be comfortable, spend the time and money to get the best chair you can afford. Sitting is hardest on your back. Make sure there is plenty of lumbar support for your lower back. The chair should be have a full range of adjustments to give you a custom sitting position.
    7. Your computer monitor should be properly adjusted – both physically and electronically – to avoid eyestrain. Center your monitor in front of you at a comfortable distance for your eyesight. (This will vary from person to person, so don’t lock yourself into a distance because everybody else does it that way.)
    8. Choosing the proper lighting is essential to keeping yourself productive in your office space.  Avoid lighting that causes glare on your computer screen. Most office spaces are over-lighted. Reduce overhead lighting when possible and use a desk lamp for tasks that require additional lighting.
    9. Don’t. Do not! cradle your telephone using your neck and shoulder. This will strain neck muscles. Multitasking sometimes cannot be avoided, if you find yourself needing to talk on the phone while using both hands, a speaker phone or headset is essential for an efficient and ergonomic office work space.

    The stylish part of your office work space is up to you. But starting from scratch is a huge advantage. Choose your office accessories with a theme or color in mind. Chance are your chair and computer colors will not be as stylish as you might hope for, but these are the least important components of a home office. Make sure your personal style shows.

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    Photo courtesy of Jnyemb

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