Ergonomics, or the study of workplace efficiency, is a science that is designed to not only make your workplace more comfortable but also to improve safety and increase productivity.
With most office workers spending 8 hours a day or more in front of a computer, not having an ergonomic monitor can lead to muscle fatigue, neck or back pain, eye strain, and reduced efficiency.
In this article, we’ll break down the importance of having an ergonomic monitor and provide 5 tips to help you optimize your ergonomic monitor setup.
We’ll go ahead and say it – when it comes to monitor ergonomics, most people choose what’s easiest for themselves, as opposed to what’s best for their long term health.
However, do you know what’s easier than adopting monitor ergonomic practices? Using them from the start.
If you’re confused as to the specifics of monitor ergonomics, its potentially harmful effects, and how to avoid the dangers, then we’re here to help.
Below, you’ll find an easy-to-use checklist that will make proper monitor ergonomics as easy as 1,2,3.
Are you ready? Let’s go!
What Is Ergonomics and Why Is It Important?
Ergonomics, whether you hear about it in a technical or physiological context, refers to a person’s efficiency in his or her workplace. Less broadly, ergonomics concerns itself with the design of all that which surrounds the user in order to emphasize the following:
In practice, consider the chair in which you are likely sitting as you read this. Have you been sitting there long? Does your back ache? Are you hunched over? What is the position of your shoulders? Do you feel supported? Could you work a full day while sitting in it? A full year?
These are the questions that ergonomics concerns itself with, and they aren’t simply confined to that of chair-centric comfort. Instead, ergonomics usually considers the workspace as a whole – the position of the chair, the mouse, the keyboard, the monitor(s), and the surrounding environment.
5 Ergonomic Tips to Bear in Mind
With all that said, don’t make the mistake that ergonomics make spaces look aesthetically pleasing. In fact, that is by no means a guarantee. Instead, ergonomics does its best to keep your musculoskeletal system safe. As such, we’ve compiled 5 ergonomic tips to bear in mind, so as to keep the risks at bay.
Sensibly Set up Your Work Station
When setting up your work station, be sure to know what you need. Prone to backaches? Consider an ergonomically-supportive chair, or perhaps look into a standing desk. Suffering from carpal tunnel? Look into a wrist brace or an ergonomic keyboard. All in all, when setting up your ergonomic workspace, don’t be afraid to invest in the tools and accessories you need to stay healthy. If that means a special chair, or a monitor hood, or some other accessory, then those investments are likely to save you pain in the long run.
Account for Dual or Single Monitor Arrangements
Do you need one monitor or two? Are they flat or curved? Are they ultra-wide or standard? In this technologically advanced era, the monitor acts as a workspace’s key component, and the answers to these questions will ensure that you have what you need to succeed. When it comes down to it, the decision between a dual or single monitor set up, which may have a bearing on your work as a whole, will have a ripple effect on the entirety of your workspace’s ergonomic design. If you don’t really need that second monitor, then make that decision early enough to plan accordingly.
Consider Monitor Placement and Viewing Distance
When it comes to proper monitor viewing distance and positioning, the ergonomic layout differs depending on whether your setup must accommodate one monitor or two. Assuming for a moment that you’re working with only one monitor, we suggest that it be placed directly ahead of you, at approximately arm’s length. Moreover, in order to your neck and posture healthy, place the monitor at a height where your neck can be straight and your eyes, level.
When it comes to dual-monitor setups, the ergonomic factors surrounding monitor placement and viewing distance become a bit more tricky. In this context, the placement of monitors will depend largely on the percentage of use between the two, as well as which of your eyes is dominant. In practice, the greater the use percentage of the dominant monitor, the closer it should be placed to dead-center, just as you’d experience with a single-monitor setup. Based on that percentage, the secondary monitor should be placed next to the primary monitor, at a 30-degree angle, on the side which corresponds with your eye-dominance.
With that in mind, one must also consider the distinct possibility that, in a dual-monitor setup, both monitors can be used equally. In that event, both monitors should be placed next to one another, with the aim that they come together, visually, at your nose. This is where curved monitors, ultra-wide monitors, and even swivel chairs are of ergonomic importance. When in use, these tools can assist in perfecting focal distance and curvature across what would ordinarily be a dual-monitor setup, thereby maximizing the setup’s ergonomic potential.
Note Your Body’s Position
Imagine how you sit at your desk. Are your wrists flat? Are your elbows at a ninety-degree angle? Are your neck and back straight? Are your eyes level? Are your feet flat? If your monitors are properly placed and if your workstation is well set-up, on the other hand, then the answers to those questions should largely be “yes”.
However, if the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then you need to note your body’s ergonomic position. It’s understandable – positions that are healthy and/or ergonomically correct may not necessarily be your default or desired position. This is where, again, accessories can be your friends. In the context of ergonomics, the best accessories are the ones that don’t leave proper positioning to choice. Monitor stands, keyboard trays, wrist rests, and footrests may all help in this regard.
Take Advantage of Stretching and Break Time
Even if your workstation is ergonomically perfect, there’s nothing that’s better for you than leaving your desk and getting away from staring at your monitor for a bit. Although it is recommended that you stand up and stretch for a moment every hour, it also recommended that you take micro-breaks every 30 minutes or so. Like the hourly breaks, these micro-breaks can entail a quick stretch or even a pace around at the world around you.
Best of all, be sure to take advantage of the 20/20/20 rule to prevent eye strain. Therein, every 20 minutes, you should select something 20 feet away to stare at for 20 seconds. All in all, these helpful tips can spare you from many long-term issues down the line.
The Dangers of Ignoring Ergonomics
Ideally, this is not the sort of question one should be asking, but it’s important to be clear regarding the importance of proper ergonomics. In short, if one were to ignore these tips, then he or she would be putting themselves at risk for the following:
- Neck Stiffness
- Eye Strain
- Carpal Tunnel
- Trigger Finger
- Back Injuries
Trust us, none of this is fun. That’s why, at the end of the day, people would rather be comfortable, healthy, safe, productive, and efficient at work. These ergonomic tips are of immense importance and should be followed right away. As such, take our checklist and make your workspace more ergonomic today!