Buying guide on how to make your home workplace ergonomic

how to make your home workplace ergonomic

On paper, to work at home we can manage with a computer and an internet connection. But the practice reveals an uncomfortable reality: that of spending eight hours in bad posture. In this sense, it is necessary to design an area to turn it into our workspace, respect breaks, stretch, and maintain a neutral posture.

Here you can find a large number of shopping guides for teleworking, but this one is different: it is an ergonomics and postural configuration guide for your workplace.

For the preparation of this ergonomics and postural configuration guide, we have consulted the physiotherapist specializing in posturology and ergonomics specialist.

A chair for work: the more adjustable, the better

The starting point is that we are not all the same. The specialist explains that “Each person, due to a series of different factors, has their unique posture. Some have a flat back, a hunched back, or a combination of both and consequently a different head position. There are taller and shorter, leaner, and bigger. ”

posture in front of the computer

In this sense, there is no universal chair, so when choosing a chair to work with, the most important thing is that it is adaptable.

At the ergonomic level, a work chair must meet the following criteria:

  • With wheels, to facilitate movements along with the office table, so that forced positions are avoided when moving it.
  • That it is adjustable in height so that the feet are completely supported on the floor and the hips are slightly above the knee, at an angle of 90º – 90º. The objective? That the pelvis is as neutral as possible.
  • With armrests and that these are adjustable in height, thus avoiding forced positions so that the shoulders do not rise beyond their usual position.
  • With or without lumbar support? The specialist recommends a slight prominence that allows this support but allows adjustment in anteroposterior inclination.
  • That the seat depth is adjustable
  • The seat must be stable, without leaning from one side to the other according to our body weight, since we all tend to lean more to one side or the other and this type of seat could cause back pain by generating scoliotic positions.
  • That the fabric of the chair is breathable, hypoallergenic, and does not slip.

Some employer insists that “if we are going to spend 8 hours in the office sitting down, it is best to get up and stretch (neck, back, arms and legs) at least every 2 hours to avoid numbness in the legs due to lack of circulation blood pressure and muscle overload. ”

A work table “at the height” of your chair

Since we are not all the same, ergonomically the most important thing when choosing a table to work with is that it is adaptable in height.

We are not all the same height, so many times we find ourselves in situations in which the chair collides with the edge of the table, which prevents us from placing ourselves at an adequate distance from the computer screen. As a specialist explains:

“I think it is important to first find a table that fits the chair we have at home. That is, we must position the chair properly, and from there take measures so that the table does not give us problems.”

In the previous point we reviewed the ideal posture in a work chair:

  • With the knee angle at 90 degrees, so that the heel is just below the knee.
  • With the chair at a height that allows our knee to be in line with our hips or the hips to be slightly above the knee. In this way, we will avoid muscular tensions modifying the position of the pelvis.
  • If you have adjustable armrests, it is advisable to position them so that the shoulders do not rise beyond their usual position.

After placing the chair in this position, we will look for a table in which the height allows the armrests to enter without problem under the table so that we place ourselves at a good distance from the computer screen.

Another design feature that has an impact on ergonomics is that they have a curvature on the edge from which we access so that the impact is softened by friction and wrist and forearm support.

From here, look for a table that fits in your workspace and allows you to place your equipment without narrowing. It is not ergonomics, but it will visually relieve you that it has cable trays and items to store your things such as shelves, drawers, or compartments.

A comfortable monitor for your eyes and your posture

The specialist begins with a recommendation for those whose work computer is a laptop: “The screens of these devices eventually end up causing many cervical problems by keeping the head in an inappropriate position for many hours a day.” So if this is your case, better bet on an external monitor for productivity.

What to take into account when buying a monitor in ergonomics? On the one hand, if we are already well-positioned in the chair and with the table at the appropriate height, the screen must have an adjustable base so that our eyes are in the middle of the screen.

And if the monitor convinces us but it is not adjustable, we can always buy a base or place it on a VESA mount, two solutions that also provide us with extra space to keep our office supplies in order.

The approximate distance between your eyes and the monitor is at least half a meter, about an arm’s length away. Although yes, the bigger the screen, you can put it further away.

The monitor must be placed at eye level, with a slight upward tilt of 10 – 20 degrees so that the distance from the panel to our eyeballs is approximately the same.

Regarding its characteristics, the quality of the screen and the brightness should allow you to see the content without problems without having to strain your eyes or bring your head closer to the screen.

In this usage scenario, it is advisable to opt for monitors with IPS or VA panels over TN due to their characteristics. Without going into details, IPS offers us better color, better viewing angles, and slower response time. And VA offers us a higher native contrast ratio. Both options are good for productivity, but most manufacturers opt for IPS

The size will depend on the resolution, a key factor if we work with high volumes of information. If our budget is tight, the 24-inch Full HD offers good performance. For a little more, we can aspire to 27 inches and QHD resolutions. Starting at 32 inches, better go to 4K monitors.

What if I need more than one monitor? Here it depends on several factors. If the two are to be used at the same time with the same frequency, they must be placed next to each other so that they visually meet. In this sense, consider an ultrawide monitor and curved screens, to maximize ergonomics. If not, it will depend on how much you use one or the other and which eye is dominant.

A mouse to take care of the doll

The specialist explains that the most important thing in choosing a mouse from ergonomics is “the angle of wrist extension that it generates. Wrist extension puts the nerves of the carpal tunnel in a stretching position, especially to the median nerve, causing carpal tunnel syndrome and elbow problems such as epicondylitis or tennis elbow. ”

A mouse to take care of the doll

Thus, the idea is to look for mice that hardly generate wrist extensions, such as small bulky mice or vertical mice.

In a simplified way, vertical mice are those in which the hand is placed in a position to shake hands to say hello. The employer’s words, “they generate slight supination of the forearm, which would also prevent the median nerve from also suffering from compression against the table.”

Another option to minimize wrist movement is trackball-type mice. Although they can be horizontal – with a usual hand – wrist posture – the mouse itself remains stationary, having to move the ball to control the movement of the cursor. They also require less space. There are also mice shaped like a pen – eye, not stylus -, which considerably reduces wrist movements.

From here, we will look at other general characteristics for productivity, such as whether it is wired or wireless, the layout of the buttons, and if they are programmable their sensitivity and precision.

A keyboard that keeps us in a natural posture

When we type on a keyboard we make a series of unnatural movements. First, we position the forearms so that they are almost horizontal and parallel to the keyboard, bending the wrists up to reach the keys. And if the keyboard is wide, we will also turn this joint to reach all of them. Even the default position involves flexing the muscles in your shoulders and back. Ergonomically designed keyboards seek to minimize these twists and turns.

The wrist extension that was a concern when choosing a mouse and that causes carpal tunnel syndrome is once again appearing with keyboards. In this sense, the specialist recommends that they below in height to minimize their impact.

On the other hand, there are some keyboards with a rounded shape that allow the keys to be oriented slightly diagonally, in line with the forearms, reducing repetitive wrist movements when typing.

However, the main criterion to be followed should be the wrist angle and verify that during typing there is no compression at the level of the carpal tunnel.

There are unibody models and others divided into two pieces. The former is usually more affordable and require a shorter learning curve. However, the divided ones allow more customization. And this has its advantages.

An ergonomically ideal keyboard places all keys within fingertips without straining your fingers, bending your wrists, twisting your arms, or curving your shoulder blades. Since we are all different, with split keyboards, you can control the width and shape of the keyboard. If you frequently use the “far” number pad and have experienced discomfort, you may also be interested in purchasing it separately.

It is common for keyboards seeking greater ergonomics to include a wrist rest to keep the wrists and forearms less forced and in a comfortable position, something especially important if we are going to type for a long period.

Some ergonomic keyboards set the keys at different depths to accommodate the lengths of your fingers. Others go a step further and redistribute the keys. Although, usually, they follow the QWERTY layout, frequently used keys such as Control, Alt, or Windows / Mac vary their position.