Weird and wonderful ergonomics
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Weird and wonderful ergonomics

You wouldn’t settle for a sofa in your home that didn’t let you sit comfortably, so why do the same in the office? The benefits of an ergonomic working environment are plentiful for your posture and comfort, but there’s more to an ergonomically sound office than the chair you sit on. Everyday advances in technology are leading to some interesting product development that will help you and your colleagues prevent the stresses and strains of problematic posture.

However, for every sensible option offered, some maverick designs take it upon themselves to create products that are ludicrous in both design and price. If you’ve got the patience and can comfortably pay the price tag without needing to steady yourself on the furniture, here’s our guide to both the sensible and more unconventional ergonomic approaches.

Computer stands

Experts recommend[1] that you place your computer screen so that the top of the monitor is at eye level and sits directly facing you, at arms’ length from you at your desk. This healthy distance prevents eye strain and ensures that you aren’t awkwardly twisting your neck and head in order to see what you’re doing properly.

If you find your monitor to be too low, then investing in a stand will help make up the distance. The Targus Ergonomic Single LCD Display Arm[2] is a special adjustable arm which can be mounted on the floor and protrude through one of your desk’s pre-formed holes, allowing you to raise and lower your monitor by attaching it to the arm. It’s an eccentric design but certainly an aid to better posture.

Ergonomic keyboard

Some ergonomic keyboards are typically slightly v-shaped; designed using contours in such a way that your wrists can physically sit on the keyboard and rest comfortably near the banks of keys on either side. This positioning gives the whole thing a more natural way of hand placement helping to prevent the strain on your wrists, and decreasing the risk of conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

But when using something like the Maltron Dual-Handed Ergonomic 3D keyboard[3], with its recessed wells where each hand should rest, you may find the layout and design provide much greater support, even if it’s somewhat difficult to get to grips with initially.

Ergonomic mouse and wrist support mouse mats

In much the same way as ergonomic keyboards are designed to support your hands, you could also benefit from having a computer mouse that’s made with the same considerations. Sitting in the same position at your desk all day can be uncomfortable enough without the added hassle of reaching out with one hand and straining your wrist and arm over a cumbersome mouse. But the latest advances in design have helped alleviate this problem for office use.

A Penguin Ambidextrous Vertical Mouse[4] – made for both hands – incorporates a more moulded shell, allowing your hand to rest comfortably on top while scrolling through documents and databases. As your wrist will sit plumb with the mouse, you can avoid the awkward flexing that comes from manhandling your mouse during office hours. However, there’s no denying that such comfort comes with serious aesthetic flaws, as they tend to jut up out of your desk like icebergs.

Office chairs

All the contoured keyboards and moulded mouse mats in the world won’t help keep you comfortable if you aren’t properly grounded. As well as getting to grips with the basics of ergonomically sound seating[5], choosing a sturdy posture chair for the office will help you to sit in comfort ready for a productive day.

For less conventional means of seating that your back will thank you for, the Saddle Chair[6] is moulded in such a way that you can sit on it in a variety of ways – back to front or even riding side-saddle – all with the comfort you ought to get from an office chair. An even wilder suggestion would be the Stokke Garden[7] – impossible to tell whether it’s a chair or some form of wacky sculpture, the level of comfort it provides and the plethora of sitting positions available make it a much more adventurous option.

Workstations

Ensuring you’ve got the space to stretch your legs underneath your desk is important. It helps keep the blood flowing and decreases the need for regular concentration-breaking walks around the office or outside.

If you want to try something different, an adjustable height workstation[8] allows you to switch between work modes – a normal seated position for when you’re running down the clock on a slow Friday afternoon, and a standing position for when you’re fresh from the weekend and want to embrace work life on two feet. Our example is one of the stranger samples of this design concept – it doesn’t really capture the feel of a hard day’s slog behind the desk, rather the opulence of a sizable home office unspoiled by piles of paperwork.

If you’ve got the cash to splash, you may find the likes of a Stokke Garden to be just the ticket for better posture in the office, but if not then there are plenty of less bizarre ways to ensure that you maintain good posture and can sit comfortably at work for long stretches of time.

References

  1. http://www.healthycomputing.com/office/setup/monitor/
  2. http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow_viewer/0,3253,l=239590&a=239591&po=7,00.asp
  3. http://www.pcworld.com/article/161402/weird_keyboards.html#slide11
  4. http://www.micwil.com/images/gallery/posturite_penguin_ambidextrous_vertical_mouse_p1_400x400.jpg
  5. http://www.healthycomputing.com/office/setup/chair/index.html
  6. http://positivesharing.com/2007/03/12-ways-to-pimp-your-office/
  7. Ibid.
  8. http://www.archiexpo.com/prod/spiegels/product-88131-919086.html