Do you know a sedentary work culture can affect your overall well-being and productivity? Poor workplace ergonomics can lead to various health issues, including musculoskeletal discomfort, and impact work output. As physiotherapists, we have seen first-hand the impact of poor workplace ergonomics on our patients.
Fortunately, a healthy and productive office environment is within reach with a few minor adjustments. Let us share how you can optimise the interaction between individuals, their tasks, and the work environment to ensure proper ergonomics, thus maintaining employee well-being, preventing musculoskeletal disorders, and enhancing overall productivity.
Tip #1: Practice good posture
Good posture is not just about finding a comfortable work position or what “feels right”. In fact, our physiotherapists notice that the sitting posture that our patients deem comfortable is not always ergonomically correct. To complicate matters further, many often shift and move in position throughout the day. While this is necessary and even encouraged, some do not maintain the proper sitting posture afterwards.
Worse, many office workers often start slouching gradually, which places more pressure on the discs and vertebrae of their back. If this is not corrected over time, it can lead to back pain. Therefore, it is essential to encourage employees to maintain a good sitting posture at all times. Investing in ergonomic chairs that provide lumbar support and adjustable features to accommodate various body types can help in this cause.
So, what constitutes a good sitting posture? Well, you should be sitting back in your chair with your lower back supported and feet flat on the floor. Meanwhile, your knees should be at or slightly below hip level. Additionally, avoid sitting in a way that places your body weight more on one side than the other, and move your chair as close to your work desk as possible so you do not have to lean to reach your computer.
Tip #2: Have an ergonomic desk setup in the office
Remember, your workstation should be working for you, not the other way around. While investing in an ergonomic setup, like having monitor stands and keyboard trays, can make a world of difference, you and your employees should also take the time to set up your work desk to suit your individual preferences.
Nevertheless, there are several essential ergonomic desk setup tips that our physiotherapists believe should be adhered to. Firstly, place the computer monitor directly in front of you, with the top no higher than your eye level to minimise neck strain. However, ensure it is at least an arm’s length away, as having the screen too close can strain the eyes. You can minimise screen glare by placing the monitor away from the window or a bright background.
As for the keyboard and mouse, they should be positioned so that your wrists remain straight, with the weight of your arms supported by the armrest of the chair. However, they should still be close enough to prevent excessive reaching, which can strain your arms and shoulders. Meanwhile, the keyboard should be directly in front of your monitor so you do not have to turn your head and neck frequently.
For those who need to look at documents while they type, ensure that you have a document holder. Other essential office stationery, like staplers, pens, or pencils, should be kept within reach. Additionally, opt for a headset over cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder if you or your employees need to use the phone frequently.
Tip #3: Encourage office employees to maintain healthy workstation habits
Everyone deserves a rest from work to stretch and move around hourly. So encourage your employees to take short breaks in between their daily tasks to perform simple exercises like neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, and wrist stretches to relieve tension. Doing so can help prevent ergonomic-related issues.
Other healthy workstation habits include maintaining a neutral wrist position when typing and using a mouse to prevent wrist strain. Furthermore, give your eyes a break and rest them periodically for several seconds by looking at objects at a distance to minimise eye strain. If adjustable standing desks are available, encourage employees to use them regularly to avoid sitting for prolonged periods.
Tip #4: Educate employees on the importance of proper ergonomics
While some employees may understand that a sedentary work culture can affect their well-being, many do not fully comprehend the importance of proper ergonomics and how it can impact their health and productivity. Consider hosting a discussion or providing educational materials to raise awareness about the benefits of correct ergonomic practices.
Explain how good ergonomics can reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders, like carpal tunnel syndrome and lower back pain, and enhance overall well-being and job performance. This way, your employees are more likely to embrace ergonomic principles willingly and understand their significance.
Tip #5: Seek professional guidance
Despite the best efforts to maintain proper ergonomics, you or your employees may still experience musculoskeletal discomfort or pain. In such cases, it is advisable to seek professional guidance from our physiotherapists promptly. As healthcare professionals specialising in musculoskeletal health, we can assess your condition and provide personalised recommendations, offering suitable treatments to alleviate pain and prevent further complications.
Prioritising workplace ergonomics is an investment in the well-being and productivity of you and your employees. So, take the time to examine how you can make ergonomic improvements to benefit you and your employees, thus reducing the risk of work-related injuries and enhancing overall job satisfaction. Doing so is a win-win for everyone involved in your modern office setting!
Meanwhile, do not hesitate to consult our experienced team of physiotherapists in Singapore if you experience any musculoskeletal discomfort. We take the time to assess your needs and provide appropriate and effective treatment to address your concerns. Our physiotherapy clinics are located near the CBD district, making it convenient for working professionals to visit us. Contact us today to enquire about the cost of our physiotherapy treatments.