With many professions, spending a lot of time at your desk is a given. As a developer, it’s not uncommon to spend at least half of my day typing/programming in some way. It’s likely that I’ll be sitting in a chair even longer.
With this in mind, I wanted to change my desk setup in order to reduce strain on my body now and prevent injury in the future. Here are a few suggestions and products that have been working for me so far!
Atomic gave me a 27″ monitor to use as a secondary screen. While the type of monitor doesn’t really matter, I’ve found that the positioning does. I’ve experimented with this quite a bit, but I think the easiest way to determine if your screens are too far/close is to consider your neck.
Sit up straight — with your neck straight, too — and position your monitor so your eyes are about level with the top of your screen. This has helped prevent me from craning my neck up to see things. Since I use MacOS, where the menu bar runs at the top of the screen, this has had a significant impact on my posture.
While using a standard/flat keyboard, the main issue I’ve tried to tackle is ulnar deviation. To avoid this, the goal is to have your hands in a neutral position at all times. There are plenty of great ergonomic keyboards available on the market today, however, sometimes just getting a wrist rest/pad can help!
I switched over to using the Logitech Ergo K860 last year, and it’s worked great with little adjustment time. The biggest difference I’ve noticed is not when I’m using one of these ergonomic keyboards, though, but when I’m not. The added support has really made a difference in my day-to-day.
The chair you use can have a significant effect on your posture, which eventually has an effect on comfort. In the work-from-home environment, especially, I feel like this is one of the easiest things to ignore. I’m currently using a Herman Miller Celle chair, which has a lot of adjustable options.
Even though many places of work provide you with a chair, the issue isn’t the equipment itself — it’s how you use it. An office chair isn’t usually designed with you in mind, it’s designed for anyone. You’ll need to adjust everything from the height to the back support to get something that “feels” right.
In conjunction with all the other things, though, I would focus on your arm/hand placement. While I’m sitting up straight, I try to keep my arms relatively level and my elbows bent at a near-90-degree angle. This has reduced stress on my wrists and shoulders by not having them work any harder than they need to to reach my keyboard/mouse.
This last one is more of a runner-up to the others. I think it’s important to mention that, even with all the above changes, the way you use your computer and its software matters. For example, lots of software has settings to increase/decrease text size. For me, increasing the text size of menu buttons (if possible) has made me want to slouch forward less, which had a positive effect on my neck/shoulders.
While some of these products have reduced the strain I feel after work, I want to emphasize that equipment is only a piece of the puzzle. Some of these products can be quite pricey; likewise, there are other ways to improve your desk experience.
Take time for stretching and other exercises (especially for your hands/legs). And taking frequent breaks is very important too! For more, here are some related articles by my fellow Atoms: