What does your workstation say about you?
Mine says I spend a lot of time in my chair; I like to pile (ahem, file) papers on one side of my desk; and according to the crumbs in my keyboard, I like bagels. Fortunately, it also indicates that I have taken time to set up a space where I am comfortable, have good body positioning, and have easy access to all that I need to perform my work tasks.
As healthcare documentation specialists and healthcare documentation students, much of our time is spent trying to be the most productive and efficient we can be. We focus on learning and understanding terminology, developing our expanders and shortcuts, proofreading our work to ensure document accuracy, and keeping up with industry trends.
Sadly, we neglect to pay attention to one thing that is very important to our overall productivity and health – our work spaces.
Ergonomics refers to the science of how we set up our workspaces for maximum efficiency and reduction of injury. Proper body positioning and ideal placement of furniture and equipment are important in determining if your workstation set up is properly for you. Have you considered your workstation ergonomics?
Your desk and chair. You should have a desk with a comfortable, adjustable office chair. If you are sprawled out at the kitchen table or sitting in a recliner with your laptop on your lap, you are not positioning your body in a way that will promote efficiency, and you will likely feel the strain on your muscles and joints over time. Having an adjustable office chair allows you to set the chair’s height so that your feet rest on the floor, your knees are bent at about 90 degrees, and your elbows are also at about 90 degrees when working at your keyboard. You will also feel more professional and have a better mindset for work, which will lead to greater productivity.
Your computer and keyboard. Are you transcribing on a laptop? Not recommended! A laptop does not allow you to adjust the position of the monitor, keyboard, or mouse. Your workstation is not a one-size-fits-all arrangement, and neither is your computer. You may need to raise your monitor up an inch or two so that you are not looking down at your screen; likewise, you may need to make adjustments so that you are not looking upward at it. You may need to change the position of the keyboard (or invest in an ergonomic keyboard) to fit your hands best. If you must use a laptop, purchase a peripheral keyboard and mouse so that you can position these to fit your needs, and just think of your laptop as the CPU tower of a desktop computer.
Work tools. Have the items you use most often within arm’s reach at your desk. If you have to twist, bend, or stretch to use the item, it is not placed in a location that would minimize strain and stress on your body.
Lighting. Make sure that you have positioned your computer monitor so that you minimize any glare from room lighting or sunlight. This will reduce eyestrain and headache associated with long hours at the computer screen.
Your work habits. Do you sit at your computer 8 hours straight so that you don’t lose productive time at work? If so, you are likely indeed hurting your productivity. Getting up for short breaks throughout the day will help you feel more refreshed and able to focus more clearly. Taking time to stand up and move and stretch will reduce the strain on your body from sitting for long periods, get your blood circulating, and invigorate you so that you will be at your most productive and efficient.
Take some time today to evaluate your work space and make any immediate changes you can to improve your body positioning. Make changes as you are able to ensure a comfortable work space and avoid stress on your joints. It may take some time for your new arrangement to feel comfortable, but over time you will feel the benefit. Be sure to review your workstation regularly and make any changes necessary to ensure that you have the setup that is right for you.