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Improve Your Home Office Ergonomics in Four Steps

All of the productivity tips and research on cognitive behavior we’ve shared up until this point don’t amount to much if you can’t actually get comfortable in your workspace.

productivity course
Kailah Ogawa
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In terms of productivity–from your chair and seating position to the overall environment in your workspace–comfort is king. In this context, the more scientific term for "comfort" is ergonomics, a concept most might dismiss as, say, the way a computer mouse fits in one's hand. But, particularly within your [home] office space, ergonomics refers to the system of physical and environmental comforts that can be infinitely adjusted. Don't sleep on this process: without a dialed-in foundation of ergonomic comfort, all the productivity and cognitive behavior insights on earth won't do you any good. And while ergonomics may not have much sex appeal, the fact of the matter is that the science of fitting the task to the worker to maximize productivity while reducing discomfort, fatigue, and injury is critical.

But, what is an ‘ergonomic’ setup? It’s easier to understand than you may have been led to believe. Ergonomics encompass how well you fit in your work environment, including your controls, display, tools, lighting and other equipment.

the ergonomic checklist

Stacy Steffen, an Associate Ergonomist at Humanscale, suggests tackling home office ergonomics on four fronts: posture, screen height, lighting, and recovery.

Posture: Adjust your office chair seat height such that your elbow and keyboard height are aligned and your hand, wrist, and forearm are almost flush, with shoulders relaxed. Ensure that your thighs are parallel to the floor with your feet firmly planted or on a footrest. Steffen also suggests offloading your weight on the backrest as often as you can and avoiding leaning forward. We’d also add that alternating between a standing desk and a seated position is optimal. And move throughout the day.

Screen height: Position the top line of text on your screen slightly below eye level and at an arm’s reach, raising the monitor as necessary and tilting it slightly away from your body. Align the center of the monitor with the midline of your body to avoid neck and trunk rotation. It’s important to keep your head and neck in a neutral, stacked position.

Lighting: Ensure that you have sufficient lighting for your documents. If available, position a task light opposite your writing hand to minimize shadows.

Recovery: Follow the 20-20-20 Rule: Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away, for 20 seconds to allow your body to recover from periods of repetitive stress. Incorporate frequent postural changes throughout your workday. Movement is critical for long-term health and comfort.

try this

Check the above list from Steffen against your own workspace. Do you have the right amount of light throughout the day? Is your keyboard aligned with your hands, wrists, and elbows? Do you purposefully take the time to take breaks, and get up and move? Answer honestly in order to get a true assessment of where your setup needs to be tweaked. If it’s just habits, try and set up some calendar reminders to get up and move. If it’s your equipment — maybe it’s time to start doing some research on better equipment like office chairs and desks for your home.

tools

Great design can go a long way towards making your home office that much more productive and pleasant to work in. To make getting the right tools for your work much easier, we teamed up with our friends Design Milk to provide you with an exclusive offer, simply use GEAR15 at checkout to get 15% off your purchase (code valid until 3.31.22).

And that’s not all. One lucky course participant will walk away with a $1,000 gift card to the Design Milk Shop to furnish their home office if they sign up using this link. Check out a couple of ways we'd spend it.

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