How To Give Your Home Office An Ergonomic Assessment.
Ergonomics is not easy. It's one of those mystery terms that we all know but we aren't necessarily 100% sure if we’ve achieved it in our lives. If you're experiencing pain while you work, it can feel disheartening once you’ve spent money on a new chair, and the pain doesn't dissipate (it’s doubly disheartened if it worsens).
One thing that's started happening here at Sleekform is some of you have begun to reach out to us with photos of yourselves in your workspace, asking for an outside eye to give suggestions for ways to make your setup more comfortable. We LOVE IT when this happens. Most of the time, with a few simple alterations, you can completely transform the way your workspace feels.
This inspired us to create a checklist of all the things we look for in our assessments along with the reasons why and how we suggest fixing it. We broke it down into an easy to digest nine-point list (and we also made this cute infographic for visual inspiration!)
1- Balanced Head Position
If you tend to stick your chin out, it can be tough to catch it in yourself. The best thing to do is to sit at your desk and place your thumb on your chin and your pinky on your chest (like you're holding a "phone"), and if they aren't aligned, make the change. Once you've balanced your head correctly, you'll be able to tell why you're sticking it out. Is it to look at your screen at an awkward angle? Is it because your chair is too far from your desk? A lot may become evident to you from this one teeny tiny adjustment.
2- Shoulders Relaxed
If you are the kind of person who experiences most of their discomfort in their upper back and neck, it's likely mostly rooted in your shoulder placement. If your keyboard or desk is too high or your screen is too low, or some terrible combination of the two, you're placing yourself in a very awkward position.
Try sitting up straight at the edge of your seat with your feet firmly placed on the ground. Lift your hands over your head and drop them gently onto your lap without moving any other part of your body. This is your shoulders' natural position. As you get back to work, what you feel is pushing you out of this position? How can you make adjustments to fix it?
3- Forearms Horizontal + Balanced Wrist Position
This goes back to the keyboard/ desk height. Your elbows should be bent at a 90° angle, which means that your keyboard should be somewhere around your waist. The keyboard should ideally be flat or only on a tremendously slight angle so as not to strain your wrists.
4- Lower Back Support
If you are currently using a regular right angle chair (meaning it has a flat seat), you should have a backrest that provides most of its support around the belt area of your back (your lumbar spine). This will help you maintain the natural curvature of your spine.
If you're using a kneeling chair (LINK), it's likely on a 60°-70° angle, which will open up your hips and allow you to maintain that curve in your spine naturally. Your core will also be more engaged, providing you with additional back support that you are unable to manage easily in a regular chair.
5- Stable Base That Supports Your Weight
If you feel unsure that a chair is going to hold your weight, you are going to be tense. You want to feel like you are supported.
6- Glare-Free Screen
If your screen is in a place that it gets hit with a weird glare in the middle of the afternoon, you'll likely end up squinting, leaning in, straining your neck in odd positions, and causing yourself a lot of unnecessary discomforts. If this means having to reconfigure the entire set up of your office completely- so be it. Your office should be a place that makes working feeling easy and enjoyable.
7- Screen At Eye Level
This is probably the number one problem people have, and the number one cause of neck and back strain, especially in the age of the laptop. Working with your laptop flat on the table for an extended period is a super big (albeit common) mistake we see regularly.
We can't stress enough the importance of raising your monitor to your direct eye line. We love this roost laptop stand (LINK). Pair it with a wireless keyboard and mouse, and you're good to go. If you have a desktop monitor, something as simple as a pile of books will do the trick.
8- Space Between Desk And Legs
Being able to move and switch up your posture while you sit is critical. This means you must have ample room to move your legs. If your table is too low, you'll be trapped in a static position or forced to sit way too far out from the workspace.
9- Feet Able To Touch The Floor
It is essential for proper blood flow for you to be able to touch your feet flat to the floor. Not only does it prevent the onset of blood clots and other various health concerns, but it encourages active sitting. If you cannot reach the floor from your current chair, consider investing in a footrest for under your desk, or finding something in your house to prop yourself up with as long as it's not too high that you're suddenly in an awkward position a few books should do the trick again!
I hope this made it easy for you to step back and take a look at your work set up and what changes can be made to make your space work for you. If you still have questions or aren’t sure about anything send us a photo of yourself sitting at your desk and we’ll send over our thoughts. We are always available via email at email@example.com or you can DM us on Instagram @sleekform.