Are Modern Offices Ergonomic Nightmares?

Usually, when we reference the offices of yesteryear, we’re pointing out how much better things are today than they used to be. After all, who among us would trade a flexible work schedule and wireless networking for the 9-to-5 grind and giant CRT monitors?

But sometimes, newer isn’t better. Witness the relative decline of ergonomic office furniture, and tell us your wrists and back are glad to be toiling away in the 21st century.

If you’re looking for something to blame, look at open plan offices, which, while cool and collaborative, feature a less regimented (and often less ergonomically-friendly) work environment. Long tables are harder to optimize for your joints than single desks, and grabbing any old chair to chat with a coworker means that you’re not sitting in your own, specially-adjusted chair.

Don’t despair, however: we’ve got a few ways that you can adapt yesterday’s ergonomic accessories to today’s office environment.

1. Take your chair with you.

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It might sound silly, but rolling over to talk to a coworker does more than just make you look like a super-busy character in an Aaron Sorkin office drama. It also means that you’re sticking with the adjustments that make you most comfortable.

2. Ditto your keyboard and mouse.

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Even if your company eschews individual desks in favor of a big, long table, you can still give your wrists a break by using a separate, ergonomic keyboard and mouse. It might take an extra minute or two to set up each time you switch locations, but it’ll save tons of time and pain down the line when you get to keep using your hands.

3. Or skip the chair altogether.

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Ironically, the reason so many of us leave work feeling like we’ve just run a marathon isn’t because we’ve done too much, physically, throughout the day — it’s because we’ve done too little. You can combat that by swapping your standard desk chair for a ball chair. These nifty little items look like something a kid would bounce around on at the playground, but they keep your core muscles engaged all day, preventing back pain and making you stronger while you work.

4. Get a stand for your tablet.

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Tablets are totally fun — and notoriously terrible for your body. Not only are they difficult to type with and read on, but if you’re not careful, you can wind up with “iPad Neck,” a condition that arises from craning your neck to look at your tablet. The solution? Buy a stand for your tablet, and if possible, use a mouse and keyboard instead of inputting your information directly.

Images: jnyemb/Flickr, osde-info/Flickr, thestanding/Flickr, yensid1998/Flickr

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