How to set up an ergonomically correct workstation

Sit up straight and pay attention while you learn how to give your workstation a healthy makeover.

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An ergonomic workstation is one that's efficient and comfortable. Set it up poorly and you could find yourself in a world of stiff necks, cramped wrists, strained eyes and decreased productivity.

Set it up well and you can enjoy all the benefits of good posture, including reduced strain and stress on your muscles, and increased productivity.

To help you get the most out of your workday, here's our guide on how to make your workstation more ergonomic. Because you shouldn't adjust to your workspace, your workspace should adjust to you.

Adjust your chair

Office chairs are designed to allow you to alter the seat height, armrests and seat back. Even if you don't have an office chair, you can still use this as a guide on how you should be seated to maintain good posture.

Firstly, sit in your chair with your hips as far into it as possible. Then, adjust the height of your seat so that your arms, when bent at a 90 degree angle, are level with or just above your desk and/or keyboard.

Plant your feet on the ground and check that your knees are level with, or slightly below, your hips. If they're too low you may need to use a footrest. If they're too high you may need to raise your table or, if it's not by much, lower your seat dip.

Armests should be at a level where you can rest your arms on them without adding any tension to your shoulders.

Next, adjust the angle of your chair back. There's no real right or wrong here, it should really be where you're most comfortable. As a guide, tilting it slightly backward can relax your back, while tilting it slightly forward can open up your hips.

Lastly, adjust the height of your seat back. Ideally the protruding part should fit into your lower back, around waist level.

Correct sitting posture guide.

Keep table accessories within easy reach

Once your chair is correctly aligned with your table, rearrange your accessories.

Position your keyboard so that when your hands are in a neutral position, they are directly in front of your body. Your mouse can remain on the side, close enough to reach without having to move your body. Alternatively you can also move it over the numerical keypad if that's more comfortable.

All other frequently used objects, such as notebooks and phones, should be placed where you won't have to stretch or strain to get to them.

Conversely don't keep them so close that you feel bunched up. Your body should feel relaxed when working.

Move your screens

The top of your monitor/s should be just above seated eye level. Many monitors come with height adjustment capabilities to achieve this. However, if yours does not , or if you're working on a laptop, you can purchase a stand to jack it up.

Laptops can either be jacked up completely and a separate keyboard used. Or, you can employ an ergonomic laptop stand. This allows you to tilt your laptop so you can see your screen at eye level and avoid that awkward hunch over your laptop that's all too familiar.

Laptop in stand on office desk

When using a monitor, place it at an arm's length from you. If this distance puts a strain on your eyes, maximise your screen resolution or increase the zoom of your browser. This will reduce that unhealthy habit of leaning into your screen as the day wears on.

If during the day your screen develops glare, you might like to pivot your monitors or change the angle of your screen. However, if this affects your posture it may be preferable to invest in curtains or blinds to cut out the glare instead.

Make sure your workspace is well lit

Straining at the screen? Eyes feeling a little tired? Good lighting plays a key role in reducing eye strain, blurriness and fatigue. If moving closer to a window or changing the brightness of your screen isn't making you feel any more productive, a task light on an arm at your table could be the answer.

Task lights let you manipulate the angle as well as the brightness of your lighting. When using it, position it on the side opposite your writing hand. Shining it slightly away from your screen can reduce glare.

If you're finding the task light alone isn't relieving your eye strain, you might like to consider blue light glasses. While there's no scientifically proven evidence that they improve vision, users have remarked that they've eased headaches and eye-strain brought on my screen-time.

Use a headset or earbuds

Does your work involve a lot of phone time? Spending your day with your head crooked in your neck can be tiresome and add strain to your shoulders. Instead, consider investing in a headset or earbuds that let you maintain your posture and allow you to work handsfree.

Using a standing desk?

Outside of chair adjustments, the above all applies to anyone using a standing desk. That is, keep your bent arms at the same height as your table and keyboard, your keyboard in front of your body, accessories within arm's reach and the top of your monitor at eye level.

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