Few can argue that the impact of computers on our work and personal lives has been significant. And we could write volumes about the positive influence that computer technology has had on our world. But as with other change agents, these innovations typically come at a cost. Personal privacy and the virtual inability for us to "get away from it all" are only two issues fueling an ongoing debate.
And, of course, there’s the discussion about the consequences of spending hours – day after day - in front of a computer. Some of us simply don’t have a choice, so the question arises "How can we minimize the toll computers can take on our bodies?"
Let’s start with the computer screen. Ideally, the height of the computer monitor should be at eye level. Being forced to tilt your head up or down too much will result in neck strain. If you’ve got your monitor at the wrong angle now, you feel it at the end of the day. Monitor support arms or platforms are a quick remedy. Position the monitor so your head is on an even keel when viewing.
But what if I use a laptop? Good question. Fortunately, there are products designed to raise the laptop so the top of the screen is closer to eye level. (I’m using one right now.) Admittedly, this type of laptop platform does take some getting use to, mainly because the keyboard sits on an angle. But once you make the adjustment, the raised screen helps immensely to minimize neck strain.
Next, make sure you have the proper lighting. Failure to do so will result in eye strain and the inevitable head ache. If adjusting overhead lighting levels isn’t an option (sometimes it’s not in open plan offices), consider lighting fixtures that sit on your work surface or attach to your panel system.
Then, of course, there are challenges posed by computer keyboards & the mouse. While indispensable, these tools are notorious for causing repetitive stress injuries. If you work in a large office, no doubt you’ve see people wearing wrist supports to relieve pressure and protect the wrist from further damage. In addition to other products on the market, cushioned palm rests and mouse pad rests can work wonders.
Lastly, as is the case with most prolonged tasks in the workplace, make sure you take a break. In the long run, you’ll feel more refreshed and be more productive if you step away from time to time.