When you consider how many hours you spend at your workstation, it’s important to make sure that not only are you comfortable, but also that stay healthy. Your workstation has three components – the desk, office chair and your computer setup. But you also need to assess more than just these as the total environment, including ventilation and lighting, also contribute to a healthy work space. Ultimately, the goal is to have a workstation facilitate a posture where your joints are naturally aligned in a neutral position – an ergonomic workstation, and where you are more relaxed and comfortable working.
Computer monitors need to be at least 50 cm (20 inches) from your eyes. And it need to be straight in front of you. Many office supply companies, and even Ikea, sell monitor stands to raise the height of your monitor. So when choosing a desk, make sure it’s deep enough to accommodate this distance, as well as to have space for your keyboard and mouse. Have them placed so that you’re not ‘hunching’ over as you transcribe. Consider a keyboard drawer if that height works best for you. It should also be large enough to allow room all the tools of your trade, such as headphones and dictionaries. It needs to be high enough that your legs fit comfortably underneath. Finally, consider buying gel wrist rests.
You spend hours sitting in your chair. Invest in one that is adjustable. Not only will you be more comfortable, you’ll be less tired and more productive, a great justification to treating yourself to a good quality chair. Things to consider are a lumbar support that fits the curve of your back. Soft, adjustable armrests are important too, and they need to not bump into your desk preventing you from being the correct distance from your keyboard and monitor. Consider a slanted foot rest to allow you to ease the strain on your lower back, and alternate resting your feet on it. Get the right wheels for the surface the chair is on. If you have carpeting, consider a plastic chair mat to protect the carpet and reduce wear. Finally, don’t buy a chair from a catalogue. Go to the store and try them on for size. The sales representative should be able to show you how it can adjust and select one that works for your body type.
If you really want a laptop, consider incorporating it into your workstation, instead of typing directly on it. Buy a separate monitor and keyboard with cable to attach them to the laptop. Otherwise, go with a standard computer with a box, monitor and keyboard. The top of the screen needs to be about 50 cm away from your eyes and at eye level, or just below. That’s hard to do with any laptop. Your forearms should be almost parallel to the floor and your wrists straight when transcribing. Too low is better than too high. The mouse should be directly beside the keyboard whether on the desk or sharing a keyboard drawer. If you put the computer CPU under your desk, make sure it’s not interfering with your leg room. But don’t forget about it under there. It needs have the air intake vacuumed regularly to keep dust out of the unit.
Plenty of natural light is always best (especially coming in from over your shoulder and not facing the window), and supplement it with indirect non-glare lighting. You don’t want glare off your monitor screen as it can cause eye strain and poor posture. Heating and cooling are important too. You don’t want to be in a draft that might cause your shoulder muscles to tense. And both drafts and fans can dry your eyes, contributing to fatigue. Finally, don’t put everything you need on your desk. Take frequent breaks. If the dictionary is on the bookcase across the room, you’ll be encouraged to get up from your desk on a regular basis, which is good for your heart health. Drink lots of water, take frequent breaks, look out the window every 15 minutes or so, changing your focal range. If you wear glasses, ask your optometrist or ophthalmologist if ‘office glasses’ (just for working at the computer) for working at the computer would be good for you.
An ergonomic workstation will pay for itself in your being less tired and staying healthy. It’s an investment in your career.
2Ascribe Inc. is a medical transcription services agency located in Toronto, Ontario Canada, providing medical transcription services to physicians, clinics and other healthcare providers across Canada and the US. Having recently introduced WEBscribe, a client interface portal for document management, 2Ascribe continues to implement and develop technology to assist and improve the transcription process for physicians and other healthcare providers. As a service to our clients and the healthcare industry, 2Ascribe offers articles of interest to physicians and other healthcare professionals, medical transcriptionists and office staff, as well as of general interest. Additional articles may be found at http://www.2ascribe.com.