OFFICE TIPS: For all "Offices" from the typical Office to Mobile, Home or Less-Than-Ideal Workstation

**************************************************************************

Using the following Tips, find the set up that is most comfortable for you.  There is no 1 right position.

****************************** 

Tips for Setting Up Your Work Area

First, sit in your chair and face away from your work area:

  • Adjust your chair so that you are sitting comfortably. 
  • Turn back to your work area to continue your check. 

Then, some additional tips to consider:  

 

CHAIR:  Position so your hips are as far as they can be in the chair and...

1. Monitor is directly in front of you

2. Feet are resting comfortably on floor or footrest, as needed

3. Legs form an approximate right angle with chair

4. Back of knees are free of seat pan

5. Lower back is supported with chair backrest.  Additional back support can be added to chair.   Set the back tilt in a slightly reclined position, approximately 100- 110 degrees.

6. If you have arm rests, they should be adjustable in height and width to support resting the arms with your shoulders in a relaxed position.

 

WORKSTATION: Height of workstation is adjusted so that you are sitting close to your work, and...

1. Wrists are straight, slightly flexed, not bent > 15 degrees

2. Keyboard and mouse are at elbow height (to keep forearm and wrist straight).  Tip: Turn your chair to the side to determine if your elbow height is near the height of your keyboard's home row.

3. Elbows are close to sides, upper arms perpendicular to the floor. 

4. Determine section of the keyboard you use the most, center this section with your body

5. The keyboard tilt can help you have the correct arm position.  You can adjust keyboard tilt feet found at the back of the keyboard as needed. 

  • A negative tilt (front of the keyboard higher than back) helps when working in upright sitting positions 
  • If you recline, a positive tilt (front of the keyboard lower than the back) may be necessary to achieve slightly flexed wrists

6. You use a soft touch on the keys, keeping your hands and fingers relaxed. Loosely hold the mouse and minimize wrist bending

 

MONITOR: Adjust so...

1. Head is positioned so ears are over shoulders

2. Neck inclines downward but not more than 15-20 degrees when viewing monitor

3. Top of info on monitor is at or slightly below eye level (Bifocal/progressive lens wearers may need to adjust monitor slightly lower)* additional information under monitor height


4. TIP: Use brightness and contrast controls on your monitor to improve the quality of text and graphics helping to reduce eye strain.

5. Direct lighting or sunlight does not fall on screen causing glare or reflection 

6. The screen is at arm's length as appropriate for your viewing comfort

7.  Be sure to keep your display screen and your glasses or contact lenses clean.

Additional Work Area TIPS:

  •  Most frequently used items should be within 16 inch reach-to avoid reaching and twisting
  •  Documents should be at same distance from the eyes as the screen and at the same height
  •  Minimize glare on monitor screen--monitor positioned at right angle to windows and task lights used, if required

When planning work area storage

  • Heavy items are placed on shelving or tables at a height between your knees and shoulders to limit distance for heavy lifting.  Place lighter items on higher or lower shelves.
  • Make sure that all items and shelving are secure

NOW, see how your new changes work for you.  You may need to adjust to meet your individual needs.

********************

Tips for Using a Laptop: 

The design of laptops makes them flexible and convenient and also increases the usage in settings that may not be ergonomically set up. 

Achieving comfort when you use a laptop may be challenging, however, doable when you follow these quick and easy tips:

  • Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed with your ears over your shoulders and elbows relaxed against your sides by your waist. 
  • Use a support surface under your laptop to adjust height and keep laptop cool
  • Position laptop directly in front of you to avoid twisting or bending of the neck.  When looking down at the screen, avoid bending your neck and head forward to see. 
  • Try tucking in your chin to look at your laptop screen.  This will keep your head and neck more or less balanced over your spine.
  • Use a full size keyboard and mouse if you are doing prolonged or extensive work
  • Tilt screen so you are viewing upper part of screen with neutral posture (ears over your shoulders)
  • When traveling with your laptop, pack light and stay mobile.  To transport your laptop, peripherals and documents, use a case with wheels.  Avoid carrying laptop bag on one shoulder, use both shoulder straps with a backpack to balance the weight
  • Minimize laptop use unless you have external input devices that support you working in neutral posture

Tips for additional laptop computing environments:

Meeting or training room:

  • If you are using a table, adjust your chair height so your elbow is slightly higher than table height
  • If needed, raise your feet on any available solid object like your laptop bag, chair rungs

Airplane:

  • Try to choose a bulkhead seat or an exit row. Bulkhead seats are not limited by a seat reclining in front of you.  Exit rows are roomier allowing you to position your arms in a more neutral posture.
  • Use a notebook tilt/cooling base to position closer and higher on your lap.
  • You may want to consider increasing font size for easier viewing due to distance and lighting
  • Avoid using laptop on plane, if possible, completing your work prior to flight and choose reading material instead!

Hotel:

  • Take the time to adjust the hotel desk and chair to work for you
  • Add rolled up towels, pillows, blankets to support your back or for additional seat height/cushioning
  • If your room has a recliner chair, elevate laptop on notebook tilt/cooling base
  • If your room has a couch, sit on couch and place laptop on the seat of the desk chair
  • If working on bed, review your posture and use pillows to support your lower back and head.

 When using a laptop, REMEMBER:

  • Be alert to any discomfort
  • Change your posture, and
  • Take breaks more frequently - every 20 minutes by alternating tasks, stretching

******************

Tips for Home Office:

Working in a home office may mean that you spend more time behind your computer and on the phone, comfort is key!

Prioritize your work area and physical needs - think about the type of work you will be doing and any physical challenges you may have:

 

Follow the Tips for Setting Up Your Work Area listed above.  You may need to get creative to raise your monitor, tilt mouse rest, create a document holder, support your dangling feet:

  • If you are smaller, and you are seated at your desk, your feet are often dangling.  A footrest is a good fix.  Old phone books, binders, boxes can be used for temporary footrest
  • If you are taller, you may need to raise your desk to be able to fit under your desk and create a more ergonomically friendly environment.  Risers made out of blocks or 2x4's can be an option. Be sure to have assistance to make changes to avoid injury
  • If your monitor is too low, you can find a temporary solution by using books, manuals under monitor to raise height and customize to fit you
  • If you need a quick fix for a wrist rest, use a small folded towel or washcloth at the base of the keyboard or mouse
  • A 3 ring binder can be used to provide a more comfortable mousing surface
  • When you use the phone either hold it in one hand or use a speaker phone/headset.  Avoid "cradling" the phone between your ear and neck!
  • Change your tasks and posture frequently, set up some reminders. One example is to stand up while you are on the phone.  Not only are you changing posture, improving circulation, you also sound more confident!
  • When considering placement of shelves & filing cabinets

                    - Place frequently used items at convenient level and within arm reach envelope

                    - Place heavy items to avoid reaching above shoulders or below knees

  • Some items, like a printer or filing cabinets, can be put  in locations that require you to "get up" to provide a mini stretch break                       

 

When you have completed your set up, ask a friend or family member to view you working in your work area and confirm that you have an ergonomic set up.

*******************************************

Tips to reduce glare

Some Solutions for Reducing Glare:

  • Position your monitor at right angles to windows
  • Adjust vertical tilt position of monitor to reduce glare from overhead lighting
  • Use secondary task light, turn off overhead light, or add a glare filter
  • Adjust curtains or blinds to reduce glare 

                TIP: Adjust window blind with front edge tilting up-allowing light to enter without causing glare

 

*******************************************************

Tips for data entry

  • Use good technique, "float" your hands slightly above the keyboard and avoid right to left wrist movement when entering data--keep your wrists straight when keying moving the hand and wrist as a unit when reaching for keys
  • Relax you hands when holding your mouse, resting your whole hand on mouse
  • Reduce keystrokes with macros
  • Adjust your computer settings (font, contrast, pointer size, color, etc) to maximize your comfort and efficiency
  • Avoid banging on the keys, lighten up your touch!  If your keys require force, it is time to replace your keyboard
  • Switch hands to give your hands a break--you can adjust input devices for left or right handed use

*******************************************************

Tips for keyboard tray

  • If you use a keyboard tray, the tray should be wide enough to hold your keyboard and pointing device.  Both the keyboard and mouse should be next to each other, within easy reach, with your elbows relaxed by your side.

********************************************************

Tips for keyboard shortcuts

Shortcut keys allow you to efficiently execute a command and limit repetitive hand movements.  Here is a sample of some cool shortcuts.  Additional shortcuts can be found on one of our favorite sites, Microsoft Accessibility, click here to access Microsoft site, once on Microsoft site then enter search "keyboard shortcuts" to review options that work with your specific systems.  Some examples you may be aware of:

  • HOME = Takes you to the top icon
  • END = Takes you to the bottom icon
  • Control + A = Select All
  • Control + C = Copy
  • Control + V = Paste

and,  MY FAVORITE

  • Hold Control button down while using mouse scroll wheel: when in WORD or EXCEL increases or decreases font while you are working in document.  When you close document the font goes back to original setting.  This may also work in other applications.  Great to use to increase font when in less than optimum lighting environment, as when you are flying, or in hotel room.

When pressing 2 keys simultaneously, such as Ctrl+C , use 2 hands instead of stretching your hand and fingers to reach both keys.

*********************************************************

Tips for document holder use:

If you are using a document holder, position document holder near the monitor at the same

  • distance
  • height &
  • angle as the monitor

This position will support neutral posture keeping your head balanced and over your shoulders as you refer back and forth between your documents and monitor; preventing neck, shoulder, and back pain. 

****************************************************

Tips on assistive devices:

Assistive devices that  are easy to implement improvements include:

  • Wrist rest: Wrists should be in a comfortable and neutral (slightly flexed) posture.  Use a wrist rest when NOT using the keyboard or mouse.  A wrist rest supports neutral posture and provides a comfortable place to rest arms.
  • Monitor height platform: Used to raise the monitor as per guidance above.  As we mentioned, you can use a book or ream of paper to adjust for the correct viewing height.
  • Copy holder: The copy holder supports documents at the same distance from the screen to avoid repetitive twisting and bending of head and neck to reference documents.
  • Task light: A incandescent task light can assist with raising and directing illumination and thus reduce glare and make any reference documents the same illumination level as the screen.
  • Telephone headset: A headset can assist to reduce neck and back strain when using the phone by providing hands-free during frequent or long phone use.
  • Footrest: Optimal position for feet is flat on the floor, or supported.  A footrest can provide this support when the workstation adjustment does not allow for the feet to reach the floor.  Also, a footrest provides an alternative for comfortable foot posture.

**************************************************************

If you are experiencing discomfort that you feel may be related to a work or home activity it is important to consult with your medical professional!