Work Area LayoutTake time to arrange your work area to keep frequently used items within easy reach and to minimize excessive bending and twisting. Typical things you can do:
- Arrange your work area so that you are facing the computer monitor with the keyboard directly in line with the monitor. To avoid unnecessary reach, make sure that your input device is positioned directly to the left or right of your keyboard on the same surface.
- Place accessories and other items such as your phone, reference materials and other frequently used objects within easy reach (try to keep your elbows at your sides). You may want to clear your work surface of clutter to provide necessary space to organize things efficiently.
- Place your document holder as close to the monitor screen as possible. Typically, these devices allow you to position documents right next to the screen or between the screen and the keyboard.
- If you use a phone on a consistent basis, a headset can allow you to work more comfortably. These devices come with many features and functions, so be sure to select a headset that best meets your job requirements.
Some computer tasks can be very demanding, involving long periods of computer use without natural break points. Breaks are important to give the body time to recover after periods of physically demanding activities. Use these guidelines to maximize productivity and minimize the risk of pain and discomfort:
If you have tasks that require intensive input (keying and mousing), studies suggest that you can minimize errors by taking a 5-10 minute break every hour. During this time, you can accomplish non-computer tasks or stretch to relieve the muscles used during data input.
- Task breaks involve a change in activities to provide relief from physically intensive tasks. Alternate activities include phone use, filing, etc.
- Stretch breaks involve stretching exercises to provide relief from prolonged postures. Be sure to perform only those stretch exercises recommended from a reliable source (book, video, physical therapist, physician etc.).
For visually intensive tasks such as computer use, quick and frequent vision breaks are recommended. Vision breaks involve changing the viewing distance from very short (reading or viewing the computer) to very long (need distance) in order to give the muscles of the eye relief from holding a fixed focus. Closing your eyes also helps to relubricate the eye's surface and change the focus momentarily.Mobile Work Layout
Make smart choices when working in alternate settings such as coffee shops, meeting rooms, hotels, and airplanes. Although you may not have much control over the environment, you can control how you choose to work within it. Consider creative solutions for improved comfort and performance:
- Create a foot rest out of a backpack, phone book or trash can.
- Improve low back support with jackets, pillows or towels.
- When using a portable computer, consider using an external keyboard periodically to allow for greater flexibility in working postures.
- If you are using a portable computer on an airplane, consider bulkhead or exit row seating to allow yourself a little more room. Also consider an aisle seat to make it easier to get up and stretch periodically.
- If an appropriate work surface is not available, consider supporting your portable computer using a back pack or brief case on your lap.
- Minimize your risk of injury by monitoring your body's signals of discomfort. Exercise regularly, get plenty of rest, eat balanced, nutritious meals and remember to take frequent breaks and change positions often.