Ergonomic Office Supplies that Make a Real Difference
Ergonomics matter and we are here to underscore the lifelong relationship between your health and your office setup. Ergonomic essentials aren’t just about standing desks and funny looking keyboards. Everyone’s body is different, including the way they sit, carry stress, and interact with their work area. Below we answer common questions about ergonomics, ergonomic desk accessories, and what’s most important in maintaining health at work.
What Is Office Ergonomics?
Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. The goal of ergonomics is to fit a job to a person. This decreases muscle fatigue, increases productivity, and reduces injury. Ergonomics is supported and endorsed by the US Department of Labor1 as a key means to prevent physical problems (called musculoskeletal disorders) in the workplace. Ergonomics is intended to protect workers from risks associated with lifting, bending, reaching, pushing, pulling, awkward postures, and repetitive physical tasks.
Tip: Ergonomics is as much a mindset as an assortment of tools and accessories. Be mindful of your body fatigue, stress, strain, and muscle aches. Get up a lot. Working at home helps as it’s easy to switch physical tasks from, say, sitting in front of the computer to loading the dishwasher or throwing clothes in the dryer. The key to physical health at work is awareness, and then switching things up to accommodate your body’s changing needs. One chair, mousepad, standing desk, or wrist pad doesn’t work for all or work forever.
Why Is Office Ergonomics Important?
Work-related physical problems are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time. Ergonomic essentials can prevent them. Common work-related injuries include:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Caused by repetitive hand or wrist movement, use of vibrating equipment, driving, and working with small instruments.
Example of ergonomic fix: keyboard modification.
Epicondylitis and Tendonitis (AKA Tennis/Computer Elbow): Caused by overuse of the forearm muscles, which causes irritation to their attachment point, and degeneration of the forearm muscle tendon. In office ergonomics, often seen on the arm that controls the mouse.
Example of ergonomic fix: wrist pad; forearm and upper arm at 90-degree angle.
Muscle Strains and Low Back Injuries: Caused primarily by poor posture. What is poor posture, you ask? This is specific to each person, but generally it is prolonged or repetitive standing or sitting in a way that puts increased strain on your back muscles. This results in pressure on discs and causes pain and can contribute to disc degeneration.
Example of ergonomic fix: Get up and move every 30 minutes.
Rotator Cuff Injuries (Shoulder): Commonly seen in jobs like painting and carpentry that require repeatedly performing overhead motions.
Example of ergonomic fix: Focus on maintaining a tall spine, ribs down, and shoulders down and back.
Trigger Finger: Caused by repetitive gripping actions, including clicking required to use a traditional computer mouse.
Example of ergonomic fix: A computer mouse that reduces or eliminates the force or movement required to press the main buttons on the mouse.
6 Tips for Creating a Healthier Workspace
A few ergonomic pointers to keep in mind when it comes to healthy, happy employees:
Move Regularly: This reduces mental and physical stress and allows you to re-set throughout the day. A break to get more tea, wash a dish, or walk around the block allows your body to de-compress.
Geometry: Keep your elbows level with or inclined slightly down toward your keyboard. This helps reduce neck, shoulder, arm, and hand strain.
Switch Your Computer Mouse Back and Forth from Left-handed to Right-handed: At first this will feel impossible, then comical, then oddly calming. Using your non-dominant hand for mouse work engages a different part of your brain and requires a slower pace. Switch back and forth every day, week, or quarter depending upon how your body responds.
Headphones or Earbuds to Reduce Stress and Distraction: If you’re working amidst rowdy kids, noisy coworkers, or non-stop leaf blowers, headphones are a great way to reduce noise pollution and improve concentration.
Take a Seat (or Not): Find the right chair for your workspace, whether you’re at a stationary desk or an adjustable desk. The right chair is dependent upon your body an can focus on lumbar support, core strength like a yoga ball, or the flexibility of a sit/stand stool. The key is to work flexibility into your chair solution. As your body changes, your sitting situation should as well.
Let Your Body Guide You: It’s not just your mind or your paycheck that can inform your career satisfaction, and you don’t have to wait until your body is damaged to make a career pivot. If writing 12 hours a day is starting to hurt your wrists, consider a more strategic role on the team. If staring at a screen all day has left you farsighted, perhaps a face-to-face position is in order. If painting walls has got your shoulder smarting, consider sales or supplies within the same industry. If your body is sore, it might be whispering that life is short and chock full of options.
Encourage Ergonomics with Themed Gifts
Provide employees, students, and customers with ergonomic office supplies that encourage awareness of body health at work. These ergonomic desk accessories remind your recipients to check in with their minds and muscles on the regular:
Ergonomic Office Setup Is About Long-Term Retention and Doing the Right Thing
Today’s work teams, whether remote or in-person, are focused on overall health and well-being, including job fulfillment, a sense of community, mutual respect, and long-term growth. Whether you’re an employer or employee, supporting optimal physical health while on the job encourages loyalty, longevity, and a sense of pride. You can feel confident you’re doing what’s right by focusing on a work space that is safe and enriching for all.