28 Nov Ergo To Go (Working In Comfort Wherever You Are)
A few years back, while teaching an ergo class called Improving Your “Position” at Work, a student remarked that their company (which shall remain nameless) was so fantastic that they even “gave you a new computer for your home” as part of their new hire package. Naturally, I queried “Is that computer networked to the business?” “Why yes it is!”, came the enthusiastic response.
Like the old saying “you’ve come a long way, baby”, we have come a long way in being tethered to our work. Today, it is more the norm than the exception that we have access to our work, any where, any time and even at home.
While the word is out on ergo and most of us are generally aware of our work set-ups and will seek ways to improve our situation in order to be comfortable, there remains a seeming disconnect when it comes to transitioning to our home “office” and mobile environments.
Maybe your equipment options and budget for your home situation are more limited than they are at work? Maybe you have space limitations and need to share your workstation with other family members? Maybe there is a drop off in vigilance because you’re not “working”, just surfing the net? Or maybe you spend a large portion of your time in a coffee shop at a bistro table?
Whatever your situation, your body does not know where you are, just what you expose it to! And as you spend more and more time plugged in (or non-wired!) to your devices…..anytime and anywhere; it is vital to understand that YOU are the most important piece of ergo “equipment” that must be modified.
So rather than attempt to provide set-up guidelines for all potential work environments and equipment options, let’s simply review three simple rules of movement. By keeping these guidelines in mind, it will become obvious what needs to be tweaked in your set up – wherever that may be! Remember, you take your body wherever you go!
- Your body has a built in way to reduce stress! Learn to respect the natural alignment of your body. Slouching, overreaching, turtle-necking, twisting at the wrist and shoulder hunching are not natural postures. Be aware of how you are aligned.
- All of your joints have limits to their range of motion! The more you use your fingers and wrists and elbows in their most extreme range of motions, the more you expose yourself to potential discomfort and injury. Pay special attention to the smallest joints of your fingers and wrists, as they get into extreme ranges much more easily than larger joints (especially in the act of typing and mousing!}
- Learning to coordinate movements as opposed to isolating them, will take additional stress off those smaller joints by asking larger ones to share some of the work load. For example: When mousing, avoid isolating movement at the fingers and wrist by asking the larger joints at the elbow and shoulder to help move the mouse! (BTW, learning key commands will help as well…stay tuned for future posts about that!)
So, how do you stay comfortable when working outside your office? Please share your solutions in the comments below! Your input and feedback are appreciated!
Andrew Blumenfeld, MA – PBE Co-Founder