From ergonomic keyboards to ergonomic office tables, read below for our actionable guide and start applying it to your workday.
Working in the tech industry, many of us spend the majority of our waking hours sitting in an office, at a desk, or crouched in front of a computer screen - probably as you are doing now, am I right?
It is no wonder why the science behind ‘ergonomics’ has become increasingly popular. Primarily concerned with the ‘fit’ between people and their work, it promotes putting people first, taking their individual capabilities into account. First and foremost, ergonomics aims to make sure that tasks, equipment, information and environment are moulded to fit each worker, ensuring they can work to the best of their ability, reducing the potential for accidents, injury and ill health, as well as improving performance and productivity.
We have put together this guide below to introduce you to the different dimensions of ergonomics, and how you, as an employee in tech, can educate yourself on how best to shape the working day to fit you. And in turn, feeling happier, less stressed, and more productive!
But before moving to the actual tips, let’s first define ergonomics. From the Greek ergon (work) and nómos (law), Ergonomics is the study of interactions between human activity and the components of this activity, such as tasks, tools, methods and work environments, in order to create systems that enable people to work in optimal conditions of efficiency, comfort and safety. Drawing on the resources of numerous disciplines relating to humans, such as physiology, psychology, medicine, sociology, anthropology, economics and engineering, among others, ergonomics designates the state that results from all the characteristics of improved systems.
There are many physical aspects you need to consider when it comes to organising your workstation set-up, including positioning your equipment at the correct height, eyeline, angle and distance. Today, there are countless improvements being sought in the fields of posture, the configuration of workstations, and health in general. The classic office desk and plastic swivel chair is a thing of the past! Not only tech companies, but companies in general, are increasingly incorporating standing desks, adjustable laptop stands and adaptable chairs into their offices around the world.
Things to consider when setting up your workspace:
Make sure you have the right digital tools and working software. Unusable or slow software leads to frustration and lowered productivity. Ergonomics is about usability, so when it comes to the technology you use, make sure it is right for you. Check that your wifi connection is strong, and if you prefer working on an iPad or tablet as opposed to a computer, then go with that and don’t worry about what other people around you might be doing!
Wherever you are, be it remote, office, or a coworking space, always keep in mind that the noise of your surrounding environment can be subject to change. If you are someone who works better in silence, find a quiet space where you know you can get a lot of work done without distraction. A noise-cancelling headset can come in very useful for someone who changes up their working location very often. Or, if you work better with music, make sure to bring your regular headphones along with you.
The glare of computer and other technological screens can cause strain on the eyes. Screen filters can help solve this problem in environments where glare cannot be controlled easily. Anti-glare screen filters are now available to purchase from many online stores.
While you can invest in ergonomic desk equipment, chairs, and other such things, there is also a lot you can do to improve your current working space to enhance performance and manage stress, without breaking the bank:
The importance of good posture is ever underestimated. It is no secret that poor posture, such as crouching over your laptop or slouching in your chair, can cause aches, pains, and even long-term injuries. However, what is lesser known is that research has shown how posture can also affect how we feel, think and behave. Maintaining good posture can help you feel more positive, and by using your body language to sit or stand up tall, or greet people in a powerful way, it automatically makes us feel more confident and alert. So next time you find yourself slumped in a ball, make sure to sit up straight, give your arms a stretch, and you’ll automatically feel ten times better!
Think about the air around you. Is it hot and stuffy, fresh, or polluted? Low humidity can cause dry eyes and throat, while high humidity can increase perspiration. We suggest installing an air purification system to improve the quality of air in your workplace. If you are working from home, it might be wise to invest in a mini humidifier or aroma diffuser. This keeps your space smelling fresh, providing a calm and peaceful atmosphere.
Temperature can be a contentious issue in an office as we all have different preferences. Too hot we lose concentration, or too cold we can become stiff. Luckily, if you are a remote worker, this issue can be solved easily. If you are in an office, try to make it work for you. If you like fresh air, ask to be sat near a window. Or if you are someone who is always cold, request a desk near a radiator.
A workspace that’s too light or too dark can cause strain on the eyes. Carefully consider the type and positioning of the lights around you. Do you have access to natural light, or is the office lighting shining a bit too strong in your face? All of these little things one would not usually think to consider can vastly improve your working day.
Now your workstation is ready to go, make sure you have dealt with the mental, intellectual and psychological aspects involved in your upcoming working day. Try these tips below to focus on boosting your productivity and well-being, improving upon repeated performance issues, decision-making, and managing stress levels.
Ensure you are in good physical condition by following healthy eating habits and nutrition. This will increase well-being and energy levels, as well as emotions and the ability to focus. Despite those unexpected demands and deadlines that inevitably show up in your working week, it is essential to make sure your basic bodily needs are being met. Try to eat light meals throughout the day instead of large meals, or perhaps have a go at intermittent fasting. These types of practices give your digestive system a rest, helping you to restore your physical energy and condition, so you’ll be more likely to be more productive at work.
Get enough sleep. While the exact time differs for every individual, try to find out what works best for you, and stick to a consistent nighttime routine. By going to bed at a designated time and having at least 7 hours of quality sleep per night, this will work wonders on your energy levels for the next day!
Mindfulness is key to ensuring a proactive attitude. Be aware of your emotions and try to manage them as effectively as possible. Your mind and emotions will still be there while you’re working, so ideally try and have them solved before you jump into work. If you can’t, there are powerful breathing techniques and meditative exercises you can learn to control your emotions. By doing a morning yoga session, or meditating as soon as you wake up for 5-10 minutes, these small things can really help to regulate your mood and help you start the working day off on the right foot.
Find your purpose
As a tech employee, trying to work on projects that make you feel happy, and grant you a sense of purpose, can bring many benefits. Purpose-driven activities are linked with greater personal well-being and meaning in life and are connected to more satisfaction, happiness, and engagement at work. By taking part in meaningful work, this also prompts higher performance, teamwork, and a more positive social participation in the workplace in general. If your 9-5 coding job doesn’t quite make you feel fulfilled, why not use your spare time to perform activities outside of working hours that do so, such as sports, or volunteering, We can guarantee you will feel more energised the next day! Or, if you're already doing that and it's not working, talk to us. Dream job might be closer that you think.
The key to greater work health and productivity is finding your perfect balance between standing, sitting, and moving around throughout the day. Whether you break each working day into half an hour chunks, spending 20 minutes sitting, 8 minutes standing, and 2 minutes moving or stretching, or you prefer to have a long gym session before work or a nice mid-day work during lunch break, find what works for you.
Lastly, look towards more structural issues of established workplace systems, such as the organisation of processes and operational regulations: timetables, holidays, physical presence, remote working, and so on. Do you feel comfortable and productive working according to those models and following those rules? Make sure that work demands are the right balance to ensure you can manage your tasks effectively.
Schedule regular breaks
Schedule breaks and rest time to clear your head and refresh your attitude. By doing that, you can improve your own concentration and productivity when you come back to your work.
By the way, we wrote a guide on why, when, and how to take breaks while working remotely, take a look!
We also recommend taking an hour for lunch, and rather than eating at your desk, utilise that time to go outside and take a breath, wandering around a nearby park or sitting on a bench in a quiet square and calling a friend, or reading a book. Taking this time out is vital for avoiding that afternoon slump so many of us seem to find ourselves in when the lunch break is over.
Make sure your deadlines and time pressures are spread out in such a way that you can effectively manage your working day in a proactive and unstressful manner. If you find you are struggling to balance things out, or perhaps feel as though you have been given too much work to do in a short amount of time, it is always worth reaching out to your manager (or to your People Manager, if you work at KWAN!).
Ergonomics at Work: Final Thoughts
We hope this article has been of use to you, and it prompts you to consider incorporating more ergonomic aspects into your daily routine. Whether you start small with a lunch break stroll, or decide to invest in a whole new office space, we can promise that anything on the list above will help you feel that little bit better in your current job.
And if none of this helps and you decide it’s time to upgrade your career, we’re here for you! Find out about the most exciting job offers at KWAN by filling in the form and talking to us.