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Setting up a workstation for a healthier you

Paul Mah | May 27, 2016
There are plenty of gadgets you can buy to make spending every day at your desk or in a cube. But how exactly are you supposed to set all that stuff up to ensure those excellent ergonomics? Read on…

Health is wealth, says the old adage. Unfortunately, the age of digitalization means that more people than ever hunch over PCs from dawn to dusk. Many of them eventually suffer physical ailments such as lower back pain, neck pain, eye strain and even wrist pain that stems from poor postures or repetitive stress injuries (RSI).

As a result, many people are now concerned about ergonomics and are becoming aware of the importance of a well-designed desk and work area. In addition, vendors are now offering gadgets, IT equipment and office furniture designed with ergonomics in mind.

Here’s a look at the ideal working posture, along with some suggestions about how to set up and ergonomic work area.

The ideal work posture

Anchoring the best practices on how to set up an ergonomic workstation are various studies conducted to determine the best posture for someone sitting at a desk and working on a PC. Some common denominators that have emerged include having the top of the display aligned with ones’ eyes or slightly lower, and placing the monitor about an arm’s length away — and positioned at an angle that doesn’t introduce glare.

Your chair should offer adequate back support and should be at a height where it’s possible to keep your feet flat on the ground. When typing at a desk, you wrists should be in a straight line with your forearms to reduce the risks of RSI.

The diagram below, from “A Guide to Healthy Computing” (published by Microsoft and reproduced here with permission), illustrates these points with a visual guide to what a properly set up ergonomic workstation should look like.

(Click for larger image). 

Putting it together

Though the basics of good ergonomics look easy, the truth is that it’s not always so simple to get real-world furniture and IT equipment to conform to the ideal outlined in the illustration. With this in mind, let’s take a look at various components of your workstation.

Your desk, keyboard and monitor

If you can choose your own monitor, look for one with an adjustable stand, such as many of Dell’s business-centric monitors. If you don’t do work that requires sharp screen images, such as desktop publishing or graphic design, you might also consider a monitor with a matte screen, which would cut down on glare and cause less eye strain than other screens — though matte screens are only an option with LCD displays.

Whatever type of display you go with, try to position your desk and the display itself so that the screen doesn’t catch direct light from a window or indoor lighting. That will help avoid glare and thereby reduce the strain on your eyes.


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