Our office is pleased to have been recently recognized by the Queensland Government Healthier Happier Workplace program with a Bronze Award. We are proud to be one of only about 50 organizations (and one of only four in the Construction sector) in Queensland to have sought and dedicated the effort to achieve this recognition.
We spend so much of our lives working, that it pays to give attention to our daily work activity and what it means for our health and wellbeing. One of the key issues that everyone working in an office environment should attend to first is how they set themselves up at their desk and, in particular, in relation to their computer. The issue is one of ergonomics. People come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one configuration that suits everyone when sitting at a desk. The important thing is to have not only equipment that is confortable to use, but that is also adequately adjustable so that correct posture can be achieved. In most offices probably the least adjustable component is the desk itself. Desktops are normally set in the proximity of 720mm, so other furniture and desk items must be adjusted in relation to this. Ofcourse this is not the only option as standing adjustable desks should also be considered to encourage movement, and use of alternative posture.
With a fixed desk we can start from the ground up. Adjust your seat so that your feet are flat on the floor and your forearms resting at desktop level in a way so that you do not need to bend your wrists, or hunch your shoulders to use the keyboard. If you cannot achieve this, you may need to add a footstool. The next thing is to be sure you have lower back support in a way that encourages an upright posture. This requires an adjustable back rest on the seat. Another thing that can create bad posture is poor positioning of the computer screen where the main screen is too low, as is often the case with a desk-mounted laptop. The correct position of the screen is where the top of the monitor is set at approximately (or slightly above) eye level with the screen perpendicular to your line of vision when you look at its centre. This will enourage an upright posture. Provision of adjustable desk-mounted monitor arms is a good way to achieve this, although there are other options.
As architects, we encourage everyone to give added attention to the quality of their work environments - often improvements can be made that need not be expensive, or time consuming, but which can certainly contribute to a Healthier Happier Workplace!