How to organize your workplace better, at home or in the office
In the past year, many workers around the world have found themselves working in drastically changed conditions, as remote working or working from home have become the most common forms of work organization.
Many companies are preparing to implement new organizational models that are likely to continue even after the coronavirus emergency has ended.
They’re reviewing office spaces to optimize costs, rethinking the classic 9 to 5 model to increase flexibility and improve their employees’ quality of life, and integrating remote working into their policies to meet the two previous needs.
Wherever you’re working, whether from your kitchen table or from the rotating desk provided by your employer, ergonomics and your health should always be a priority.
The importance of a suitable workstation
Many studies have found that the main side effects suffered by people working long hours at the computer are visual fatigue, musculoskeletal disorders and stress.
The most common symptoms of eyestrain are burning eyes, sensitivity to light (photophobia), fatigue when reading, dryness and blurred vision. The main causes behind it can be summarized as follows: bad lighting conditions; close and prolonged visual engagement; poor environmental conditions; the use of screens with unclear characters and, or with too much or too little contrast.
Staying in a fixed position for a long period of time involves static muscle work, which reduces blood circulation and causes fatigue in the affected muscles; this leads to numbness and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, back and arms. On the other hand, rapid and repetitive hand movements such as typing or using the mouse for long periods can also have negative effects.
Stress caused by the workplace is defined as “work-related stress” and is related to the imbalance felt by workers when the demands they have to meet exceed individual capacities. Stress is usually due to factors such as particularly heavy working hours, often over several shifts; excessive workloads; or an organization that may fall short when it comes to respecting individual professional skills. However, the effects of infrastructural deficiencies in the workplace such as poor lighting, unsuitable temperatures, or cramped spaces, should also not be overlooked.
A workstation that aids well-being
Set up a properly organized workstation and you’ll be doing your mental and physical health a favour, by limiting the risks associated with prolonged work at the computer.
Implement these quick tips right away, whether you are in the office or working from your desk at home, and adjust your habits as follows:
Whenever possible, alternate working at the computer with other work and/or breaks during which you stay off other screens if possible, TV, Tablet, Smartphone.
Maintain good posture and position
Consider your posture, but also your position in relation to the computer you’re working at: keep your back straight, never bent towards the monitor; shoulders relaxed and away from the ears; forearms resting on the work surface, taking care to move the keyboard to 10 cm from the edge of the desk. Arms must have a surface to rest on, to take the weight off the shoulders; legs should comfortably reach the ground and remain in a resting position. To maintain correct posture, simply keep in mind this magic formula: 90 degrees. 90 degrees between your back and legs; a 90-degree angle for your arms resting on the table, and 90 degrees for the angle of your legs.
Organize your workstation
The workstation must be of adequate size and set up so that there is sufficient space to allow the movements necessary for changes of position. Invest in as much ergonomic equipment as you can: a chair with an adjustable backrest, on castors if possible; a table with a floor height from the ground between 70 and 80 cm, and deep enough to guarantee the support of the arms and the correct distance from the video. Also ensure there is proper lighting, which is obtained by positioning the monitor at a 90-degree angle to the window. Position your screen to ensure that there is no reflection and you need artificial lighting, keep it soft, but not low, making use of a table lamp.
Adding in some extra accessories that won’t break the bank can make your workstation even more comfortable. A monitor stand, a separate and tiltable keyboard, a mousepad with wrist pad, a footrest: these are all elements that will contribute to increasing your well-being by limiting the inevitable consequences of prolonged work at a computer screen.
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