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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…

One way to make sure you can position your display exactly as you like it is to use a desk mount with an adjustable arm. Such products are offered by a variety of device makers. Those from Ergotron, for example, clip to the edge of the desk or install over a grommet hole and offer a wide range of motion so you can position your screen exactly where you need it to be. (Another advantage of monitor arms is that they allow you to push your monitor out of the way to free up additional desk space when you need it.)

Laptop users face unique ergonomic challenges, especially when it comes to screen positioning. If your laptop is just sitting on your desk, the screen will be in an unergonomic position way below eye level. Moreover, typing on a laptop can be stressful on your hands because the built-in keyboards are often flat, shallow and cramped. One way to improve the setup is to use an external keyboard and mouse and put the laptop on a stand, such as the TwelveSouth HiRise for Mac, to raise the screen to a more convenient height.

01 twelvesouth hirise
The TwelveSouth HiRise for Mac will work with most laptops.

Your chair

If you spend quite a bit of time at your desk, it would be a good idea to get an ergonomic chair that provides good support for your lower back. A good chair provides more comfort for prolonged sitting and helps to reduce the risk of back strain or injury. If your options are limited, you should at least try to get a chair with an adjustable seatback.

If your employer — or you — has no budget for a new chair, an alternative is to buy an ergonomic backrest and put it on your existing chair. One option is the Kensington SmartFit Conform Back Rest, which fits on existing chairs and offers four adjustable settings that the company claims will offer the maximum support for the spine.

You can improve the support offered by an existing chair with an ergonomic backrest like Kensington’s SmartFit model.

Another way to improve the ergonomics of an existing work area without spending a lot of money is to get a footrest. A footrest can be especially helpful when the only way to get your wrist parallel with your keyboard is to raise the height of your chair to the point where you can’t rest your feet on the ground. Elevating your feet in such a situation keeps your knees bent at an optimal angle, which helps ensure that blood circulation is not restricted.


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