Besides improving the overall health and wellness of employees, companies who encourage employees to implement proper office ergonomics experience several other benefits. Reduced workers’ compensation costs, increased employee productivity, improved work quality, and improvement in employee engagement are just some of those benefits.
The Cheap (or Free) Ergonomic Upgrades Your Office Needs STAT
To reap these benefits, companies don’t have to spend a fortune on expensive furniture upgrades and engineered solutions. There are several inexpensive ergonomic improvements that can be implemented in the office at little to no cost. Here are 13 cheap (or FREE) ergonomic upgrades for the office.
1. Foot Stool
When sitting at your desk, the key to avoiding musculoskeletal injuries is to maintain as neutral of a position as possible:
- Feet flat on the floor
- Knees bent at a 90-degree angle
- Hips slightly higher than the knees
- Straight back and neck
One inexpensive tool that is critical to find neutral position is a foot stool. If your feet are not flat on the floor, placing a footstool under your desk allows for your feet to be flat and your knees at a 90-degree angle.
2. Laptop/Monitor Stand
Another piece of the “neutral-position” pie is maintaining a straight neck and head. Many people struggle with this because their computer monitor, or laptop, are flat on their desk. When the eyes have to look down to read the screen, stress is put on the neck and an awkward position is required.
3. Timer/Clock with Alarm
Holding a static posture for too long is an easy way to create discomfort in your body. Frequent breaks prevent the body from holding a posture for too long. Use a timer or alarm clock to set a 30-minute timer. Every time it goes off, stand up and look away from the computer screen. This allows your muscles to relax into a different position and helps eliminate eye and neck strain.
If you are on the phone frequently, headphones are a great tool to avoid cranking your neck in an awkward position while you talk.
5. Desk Reorganization
One free way to reduce the risk of injury in the office is to reorganize your desk so everything is within arm’s length. The goal is to be able to reach all the items you use daily without having to stretch or get into awkward positions.
It is easy to strain your eyes if your office does not have proper lighting. Putting a lamp on your desk will not only allow you to easily read your computer screen but also discourage awkward body positions that you may find yourself in when you have to sit close to the computer to properly read.
7. Seat Cushion
When in neutral position, your hips should be slightly higher than your knees. With an adjustable chair this position can usually be found easily. However, if your chair does not adjust, you can still sit in neutral by adding an ergonomic cushion. When adding a cushion to your chair, make sure that you adjust your footstool so you can maintain flat feet.
Carpel Tunnel Syndrome is a common musculoskeletal injury for those that work in an office setting. Using an ergonomically correct keyboard and implementing a floating wrist technique when typing can significantly reduce your risk of developing the injury.
9. Mouse Pad
Much like the keyboard, using an ergonomically designed mouse pad is an inexpensive way to help your write maintain neutral position when on the computer.
10. Document Holder
For those in data entry, using a document holder is critical to keep your neck and head in neutral position.
11. Water Bottle
Keeping your body properly hydrated is the first-step in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining proper hydration not only reduces the risk of musculoskeletal injury but also improves brain function and increases productivity.
12. Towel for Stretching
Stretching before, during, and after work is highly recommended to provide your muscles with counter-stretches to the positions you find yourself in while at a desk. Having a towel in the office allows you to enhance your stretches for maximum benefit.
13. Self-Assessment Tool
It’s important that employees listen to their body. Have some sort of visual reminder to stop and self-assess your body for any pain is a great way to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury. Simply printing out a stop sign and posting it near your desk is a free, and easy visual cue to stop and check on your body.
Making simple and low-cost adjustments to your office environment can greatly reduce your risk of injury. The key to an ergonomically correct work space is to create an environment where you are able to work in a neutral position while taking frequent breaks to relieve your muscles.