Give Your Workspace an Ergonomic Upgrade

Posted July 5, 2017, by Jenny Sakr

Heavy lifting, standing all day, hours of physical labour – these can all have a toll on your body, but have you ever stopped to ponder the effects that your deskwork can be having on you?

You might be fortunate enough to be part of an organisation that offers ergonomic solutions, but for those who aren’t, or want to set up a second office from home, here are five ways to make your workspace ergonomic-friendly. 

1. Chair

Your chair is the main component of your workstation, so it’s important to ensure that it is comfortable and supports your natural posture. Follow these four steps from UCLA ergonomics to ensure your chair is in the best position and keep back pain away.

UCLA Ergonomics has put together these simple steps to ensure your chair is set up correctly at your workstation. 

  • Push your hips as far back as they can go in the chair.
  • Adjust the seat height so your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are equal to, or slightly lower than, your hips.
  • Adjust the back of the chair to a 100°-110° reclined angle. Make sure your upper and lower back are supported. Use inflatable cushions or small pillows if necessary. If you have an active back mechanism on your chair, use it to make frequent position changes.
  • Adjust the armrests so that your shoulders are relaxed. If your armrests are in the way, remove them.

Watch biochemist, Esther Gokhale’s TED talk on finding your primal posture and sitting without back pain. 

2. Keyboard and Mouse Placement

You may not have thought much of it in the past, but the way that we use our keyboard and mouse needs to be carefully considered – repetitive use over a long period can lead to discomfort or even injury.

Follow these tips from expert ergonomists at  to ensure your keyboard and mouse are set up correctly. 

3. Monitor Setup

Got neck pain? Having a monitor that not adjusted right can result in an awkward posture, strained muscles and nasty neck pain.

Adjust your screen so that it is directly centred and your neck is relaxed; the top of the screen should be below eye level and your eyes level with the toolbar. Adjust the angle of your screen to minimise glare and ensure your eyes can easily focus.

Many of us these days have multiple monitors. The principles of setting up two or more monitors are the same as setting up one, it’s important that your screen can be easily seen and you’re in a comfortable position.

Queensland workplace health and safety advise us to “place the primary monitor straight ahead to avoid twisting the body or neck to one side to view the display and move the chair when using secondary monitors to avoid bending or twisting to see the displays.

Check out a quick video from The Ergonomic Guy on how to set up your monitor/s. 

Avoid having a glary screen - cat squinting

Remember to visit a professional and get your vision tested regularly.

4. The Almighty Standing Desk

You’ve heard about it, you’ve read about it, you may even have a colleague who has it … So, what are the actual benefits of standing desks?

Boosted energy levels – getting your blood flowing will helps up your endorphins and make you more alert and a happier person [happy gif]

More productive “Work production studies indicate that workers are more efficient when they stand to work.”  – UCLA Ergonomics

Better posture
– As the day goes on you’ll be more likely to slump and your good posture will start to slip. Standing will help improve core muscles and stabilisers which will strengthen your back.

Longer life – Studies have shown that you can increase your life expectancy by two years just by cutting down on your sitting time from a regular six hours to three hours.

Help your waistline – It’s simple, our body uses more muscles to stand, which means you’re burning more fat. A BBC study found that standing at work for three hours a day helps you burn around 750 calories – that’s 3.6kg across the year! 

Need even more motivation to get yourself to stand up? Connect your desk to the cloud! Herman Miller (inventor of the Aeron chair) has designed a sensor which you can be added to stand-up desks to keep tabs on how often you change positions between sitting and standing. Think of it like a furniture FitBit which allows you to set goals for the day and alerts you when it’s time to switch things up.

5. Maintain Good Habits

Once you’re all set up and in position, it’s important to get into habits that’ll benefit your mind and body.

Try and go for a short walk or stretch every 30 minutes. Regardless of how great your new workstation is, it’s still important to keep moving and keep the blood circulating. TIP: Instead of sending an email, try walking over and having a chat.

Do your deskercises, yes deskercises! See 10 deskercises that’ll get you moving while still getting the job done!

Reduce eye fatigue and strain by looking away from your computer every 20 minutes and looking at an object approximately 20ft away for 20 seconds – this is commonly referred as the 20-20-20 rule.

Keep up your H20 levels! Drinking lots of water is great for your health in general, and the more you drink the more reason you have to get up and wander over to the cooler to refill. Plus, it’s great to curb those 3:30 sugar cravings – BONUS!

Take your full lunch break! By getting out of the office and enjoying some fresh air you’ll do wonders for your energy levels. 

Girl on a lunch break and reading in the park

Jenny Sakr
Jenny Sakr

Jenny found her way with words while interning during uni, since, she's produced articles on it all – from hair and beauty to homewares, travel, career advice and study tips. On a weekend you're most likely to find her lining up for a table at the latest cafe or restaurant.

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