6 Tips to Protect Your Health in a Virtual Environment

As those of us who work from a virtual office will find, it’s not uncommon to spend forty plus hours a week sitting at our computer. Although in most cases unavoidable, work needs to get done, this is not the healthiest scenario for our bodies. When faced with long hours at our workstation, it is important to consider computer ergonomics to reduce the risk of painful back, eye and wrist injury. Ergonomics, by definition, is the fit between the people, the tools they use and the physical setting where they work. A more comfortable definition might be…. “Fit the work to the user instead of forcing the user to fit the work.”

It is time to protect your health from the hazards of poor posture and eye strain by putting a computer ergonomics plan in place. Here are a few ideas to consider to help ease the strain on your body when working for an extended period at your computer workstation.

1. Indirect lighting. Use indirect lighting to reduce the glare on the computer screen. Working in a well lit room using either artificial or natural light improves working conditions. Ensure that your computer is turned away from windows; this will minimize glare.

2. Avoid eye strain. Keep the top edge of your monitor at eye level or slightly below so that you are able to look down slightly as you read from your monitor. The monitor should be 20 – 30 inches away from your eyes. Rest your eyes periodically, approximately every 20 minutes, by focusing on a distant object and blinking often, to remoisten the eyes.

3. Pneumatic chair. Use a pneumatically operated chair that fully adjusts for seat height and tilt, back height and tilt, and with arm rests that have continuous height adjustments. Your chair is very important to your posture and comfort while you sit and work for long periods of time.

4. Proper posture. Your feet should be flat on the floor, your knees should be comfortably bent at a right angle, and your back should be straight.

5. Wrist and elbow strain. Your wrists should never be higher than you elbows, they should be straight, not flexed upward or bent downward. To make sure that you have your wrists and elbows in the correct position check that the desk is not too high or the chair too low. Make adjustments for comfort.

6. Mouse position. Keep your mouse a comfortable distance from the keyboard so you do not have to reach to use it. Use a mouse pad with a padded wrist rest; this prevents the heel of your hand from leaning on the desk, causing strain.

Take a look at your office, desk and computer set up now. Do a computer ergonomics analysis to determine what you can do to prevent stresses and strains to your body and improve your work environment. Implementing any one of these great ideas will greatly improve your comfort and reduce the strain on your body while you work. Put an ergonomics plan in place to protect your health. The benefits will be felt by your entire body.

Michelle Jamison is the author of “The Virtu@l Office Essentials”. The Virtu@l Office Essentials is an excellent book for anyone who is considering or who is currently working in a non-traditional workplace. Someone who relies on technology and their own self discipline to stay focused, motivated and productive at work. The virtual office is on the increase and becoming a popular workplace alternative, yet it isn’t just about the technology you use or the location of your office that will determine your success in a virtual environment; it’s the mindset you have. You can purchase her book at www.virtual-office-essentials.com, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.