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Office Ergonomics: Creating A Comfortable Workspace!

India ranks fifth in long work hours. If most Indians are going to work 48 hours/week, the least they deserve is a cosy workstation.

On average, Indians spend more than 2 hours on the road for their office commute, which is around 7% of their day. After all that commuting, shouldn’t you have a comfortable office space?

How often have you dreamt of an office with a massage chair? Or maybe you desire a state-of-the-art coffee machine that churns out the most aromatic brew. Alternatively, you may just need ideal lighting to soothe your eyes or some other comfort you’ve always desired in your workplace.

Whether you work from the office now or from a dedicated workspace at home, it’s not just about a comfortable workspace; it’s also about your healthcare and safety in the long run. Here are some pointers to create an ergonomically good workspace.

Your throne

Your desk and chair are where you spend most of your time. Hence, you must treat this like your throne. The Iron Throne in GOT may have been hard and jagged, but when it comes to your work “throne” and desk, comfort must be king.

Your desk and chair can significantly impact your posture and typing position. If either is wrong, you can sustain a repetitive strain injury. You could also face other muscle strains. Both these issues can lead to impaired muscle and tendon function.

You need to choose a chair that appropriately supports your spinal structure. It needs to be gentle on the curvature of your spine while providing maximum lumbar support. Also, ensure that you can adjust its height so that your feet are always flat, parallel to the floor.

Your desk needs to be high enough to accommodate your knees and then some. If you already have a low desk, you can raise it by putting boards or blocks under its legs. Ensure that the desk has good padding for resting your arms comfortably.

Stretch breaks

When you constantly sit in one position without any change, you risk exposure to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). You could avoid them by stretching a little every couple of hours.

Stretching doesn’t just help you avoid MSDs but also aids in an improved posture, increased muscle coordination and overall balance, and reduced fatigue. Best of all, it is a great excuse to go and talk to your work buddy!

Taking period breaks to stretch your legs is another way to avoid burnout at work.

An organised desk

Stretching is good for your body. However, if you have to stretch to reach the objects placed far away on your desk, you risk injuring yourself. What can you do? Place the things you frequently use in a handy place on your desk. For example, you may want to keep the following items within your arm’s reach:

  • Your phone

  • Stapler

  • Printer

  • Water bottle

  • Hand sanitiser

  • Stationery supplies

  • Writing pad

  • Fidget toys

Also, remember that if something is not within your arm’s reach, you may want to stand up and grab it. This way, you will not only pick up the item you need but also take a mini stretch break, which is also essential.

Ergonomic devices

Many people spend their entire work time on some or the other device. If you are one of those people, consider buying ergonomic appliances. For example, if you are a coder, you may want an ergonomic keyboard and mouse.

If your work requires you to spend a lot of time on the computer, you should:

  • Keep your mouse and keyboard on the same surface

  • Place your upper arms close to your body

  • Position your forearms almost parallel to the ground (at 90°)

  • Keep your wrists straight and relaxed on an even surface

  • Place the monitor directly in front of you at about an arm’s length

  • Position yourself so that the screen is at or just below your eye level

  • Lower the screen to an inch or two below your eve level if you wear bifocals

On the other hand, if you’re required to take a lot of calls for a living, you should invest in ergonomic headphones. Everybody has different preferences in their choice of headphones. Some prefer in-ear ones, while others like over-the-ear headphones.

Most like total noise cancellation, while others like some noise to reach them, so they are aware of what’s happening around them too. Whichever kind of headphones you choose, you must select the size that best fits you.

Importantly, you need to take periodic breaks from your headphone Nirvana. Remove the headphones every couple hours and go for a coffee or stretch break.

A footrest to literally take a load off your feet

Most people find that their chairs are a little too high, and they can’t rest their feet comfortably; only their toes or heels touch the floor. Thus, they can never completely keep their feet flat on the floor. If this is you and you can’t change the table or chair, a footrest is what you need.

If you have an excellent footrest, you needn’t worry about static posture (postural fixity), which can lead to deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This is because footrests naturally encourage the movement of feet at frequent intervals, thus helping you avoid remaining completely static. Even the slightest movement of your feet can reduce blood pooling and prevent DVT.

Your employer is partially responsible for providing you with a well-designed, ergonomic workstation to keep you healthy and safe at work. If you need further help, you can always ask your employer for ergonomic work aids.

This isn’t the end of your employer’s responsibilities. They are also responsible for investing in a sound health plan for their employees.

Don’t think your employee health plan is quite comprehensive? Or worried that your group health plan doesn’t include your family? Subscribe to the Kenko’ 999 Family Plan, which covers all OPD expenses for 2 adults and 2 children. You get up to 50% off on all doctor consults lab tests, medical bills, daily healthcare, and much more.

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