As computers continue to become more and more advanced, their role in the digital marketing process becomes increasingly important. They take over the workspace, absorbing into them nearly every relevant function. Although this work environment transformation can be considered an improvement in efficiency, where one device fits all, the greater involvement of computers can also constrain us in our workspace—mainly our motions.
Sitting at the computer for the entire work day can quickly turn into a source of cramps and discomforts. Lethargy detrimentally affects our productivity, and also puts us at risk for more serious illnesses. Therefore, setting up an optimal workspace is an essential element in the quest for improved productivity, enjoyment, and health.
Throwing Your Anchor – Seat Height and Foot Position
Starting, quite literally, from the ground up, the feet and legs serve as the anchor, allowing the body to stay still. Consequently, they also assist as a way to position the other elements of the workspace. Thus, the feet should be planted flat on the floor with the center of the foot placed slightly farther than the center of the knee.
Such an arrangement creates a right triangle from your knee to the floor and then to your feet. The height of the seat is influenced by the length of your lower leg, the hypotenuse in the right angle, and usually comes out to be an inch or two shorter than the length of the lower leg.
The Perfect Angle – Body and Keyboard
The optimal location of the keyboard has a direct relationship to the position and proportions of the body using it. The foundation for this particular item is the lower spine, so it is important to push oneself as far back into the seat as is possible.
The arms should rest in a comfortable position. Orthopedic experts at American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommend relaxing the lower arms parallel to the ground, and the elbows moved slightly forward, in front of the body without flaring them out side-to-side. This positioning gives the inside of the elbow a 100° – 110° degree angle, depending on personal preference.
Holding this body position, move the keyboard to align the A-S-D-F and J-K-L-; keys immediately at the tips of the fingers of the left and right hands respectively. Some keyboards offer stands that tilt the keyboard several degrees towards the user, relaxing the wrists as you type.
With the use of a wrist rest, comfort quickly turns into a health benefit, preventing the loss of blood circulation caused by the wrists being placed on a hard surface in front of the keyboard. Even so, you should avoid keeping the wrists constantly planted on the wrist rest, and instead lift them in the air as you type and only set them down during pauses.
When it comes to taking ergonomics and comfort to the next level, even different keyboards and mice are not created equal. With everything from the most basic computer peripherals to specialized ergonomic ones, such as the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 and the Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse, there are plenty of options on the market for any comfort preference.
The shape of the ergo mouse prevents twisting your arm at the elbow and shoulder in an unnatural way. Additionally, pairing it with a wrist rest promots healthy circulation. Notice that the wrist is twisted inwards in the right image and the hard edge of the desk puts pressure on the bottom of the arm. The mouse pad with wrist support promotes healthy circulation and comfort.
What You See Is What You Get – Head and Monitor
When spending the majority of the work day behind a monitor, great attention should be paid not only to eye comfort but also to the comfort of the neck and spine. The center of your head, according to OSHA’s Computer Workstation guide, should be kept directly above the lowest point of the spine that is in contact with the back of the chair. Keeping the head in this vertical position prevents pressure in the neck muscles that results from the need for those muscles to pull in various directions to keep a tilted head level.
Consider Your Eyes
Having positioned the head, the monitor should then be set up with the top of the screen being at eye level, positioned at a comfortable and convenient distance from the eyes. WikiHow recommends a broad range of distances, from the minimum of 18” to as far as 28”. Since the average user looks closer to the center of the screen, the screen should be tilted to be perpendicular to your gaze when you are looking at its center. This means tilting the screen between 10° and 20° from the vertical, with the angle dependent on the distance of the eyes from the screen as well as any possible reflection sources.
Does the screen irritate your eyes even with the best tilt and positioning? The issue may lie in the brightness and contrast settings. An article regarding Computer Eye Strain by All About Vision suggests looking at the monitor and the environment that surrounds it – if the screen appears to be a light source, the brightness should be decreased, and vice versa. Similarly, increasing the contrast allows our eyes to strain less to recognize the difference between a foreground element – black text – and a background one – white pages.
When it comes to an ideal posture, awareness is key. Take short breaks to assess what your body is telling you. Are you tense or sore? Are your eyes straining too much? Stretch your arms, neck, wrists. Stand up and stretch your back. You will find that 5 minutes spent of relaxing the body will pay dividends when it comes to your focus and efficiency. Take some time to look at far away objects to relax the eyes. If you are lucky enough to sit near a window, take advantage of that.
It is important to remember that no matter how optimized the work space and how comfortable the screen settings are, spending extended periods of time seated in the same position can still lead to soreness and discomfort. Pausing every hour for a short break to get up, walk around, and stretch is an equally essential part of a healthy work process. Take a break – you deserve it!