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5 Ergonomics Tips for Desk Users

Do you know the correct way to sit in your office chair? How about the correct distance to sit from your monitor? Ergonomics is the study of people's efficiency in their working environment. The way you sit, and the chair you sit in, and the desk you sit at, all matter. Many of us don't consider our desk setup, but if you're an office worker like us, we actually spend a considerable part of our day stationary, at our desk! Shouldn't we consider the benefits of having a nice desk and chair, like we would a nice couch, mattress or even our car? Without being completely aware of it, we can often feel fatigue, back and/or neck ache and develop mild symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Long-term, poor ergonomics can lead to weight gain, bad posture, heart disease and musculoskeletal disorders.

There are a few easy fixes to practicing better ergonomics. Check them out below!


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1. Adjusting your monitoring

The top of the computer monitor should be at eye level, allowing the user to just glance slightly downward to view the middle of the screen. The monitor should also be centred in front of the user to avoid extended periods of twisting the neck looking left or right. Keep your monitor at arm’s length from you also. Sitting too close can strain your eyes and it can encourage hunching over to look closely. Remember, PC’s have a zoom function! Slightly tilt the screen upwards also. This is naturally done on a laptop, but raising it up to eye height is trickier. You may need to position the laptop on something or longer-term, invest in a laptop riser/stand. Extra tip: Work in a well-lit area if possible to avoid eye strain and/or use a desk lamp.


2. What to do with your arms

A handy way to remember the position of your arms, is to think of right angles (This also applies to hips, thighs and feet). Keep your keyboard and mouse as close as possible and upper arm and wrists close to your body and as relaxed as possible. This helps to avoid overreaching and keeps the wrist as flat as possible when using the mouse. A common complaint of office workers is carpal tunnel syndrome, which according to the HSE ‘causes pain, numbness and a burning or tingling sensation in the hand and fingers.’ If you are suffering on a regular basis, you could try a wrist rest or an ergonomic mouse which places the hand in a ‘handshake position’ thus relieving pressure on the wrist, improving blood flow and forcing less grip on your mouse.


3. Does your chair have your back?

Most office desks are of a similar height, in and around 75cm from the ground, but what if your chair doesn’t quite match up? A height-adjustable chair is essential for good ergonomic practice. Dining chairs, kitchen stools and lounge armchairs aren’t designed for people to work in them for extended periods of time, but office chairs are! Ideally, your chair will have adjustable armrests to help take pressure off your shoulders, but static arms work too. Mesh back chairs have become more and more common in recent years and it’s easy to see why – while giving all the support of a normal chair, they’re more ergonomic, durable, less likely to stain and have better ventilation, keeping the user cooler and dryer. Not all chairs have a built-in lumbar support, but if you’re working from home, roll up a small towel and place it at the end of your back for additional support.


4. Avoid the pinch (on your legs)

Again, using the ‘right angles’ analogy, the user should sit back into the chair and get good back support, with thighs parallel with the ground. Knees bent at a 90-120 degree angle with feet flat to the floor is best practice, but if the user can’t do this without feeling a ‘pinch’ at the back of their knees, then a footrest may be needed. If you’re like me, and are cursed with short legs, you will most definitely need a footrest. This improves blood circulation and stops that feeling of heaviness and fatigue when standing up after a long period of sitting.


5. The benefits of movement

This may be the easiest tip to remember, but it’s one we don’t all put into practice. A few years ago, it was recommended to take regular breaks (every hour or so) from screens to give our eyes a rest. With mobile phones, tablets and laptops becoming such a big part of our lives now, this advice is more important than ever, but it is now recommended we take a short break every 25 minutes. This has a lot of benefits for the body too however. It helps to alleviate stiffness, stress on eyes, improves circulation, improve productivity and can have mental health benefits. In an office, a quick walk to the canteen or a breakout area will do the trick. While, for remote workers, it could be a quick stroll to the corner shop or the kitchen for a coffee. Users who wish to take movement while working to the next level might consider a sit/stand desk. These come in electronic models with built-in motors, or retro-fit options which can be sat on top of existing desks and operated pneumatically. Research shows that ‘office workers who are equipped with a sit-stand desk are more productive, healthier and happier than those who are not’. Even standing for two hours of your work day can go a long way to losing weight, improving productivity and avoiding musculoskeletal disorders.

If you'd like to take further steps and look at improving the hardware you're using, check out our range online or give us a call. Many of us at OfficeMaster are fully-certified ergonomists so we can advise on the most suitable products for you.


4 Tips to Make Working from Home Easier

With the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak affecting offices, factories and institutions across the globe, many companies have turned to remote-working to try and alleviate disruption to the business. While working from home can be an effective solution, there are many pitfalls that employees must navigate to keep motivated and productive! Here, we list 4 ways you can make sure your 'work-from-home' (WFH) experience is as smooth as possible.


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1. Create a Dedicated Workspace

Having a dedicated workspace means that you can work with a relative amount of peace & quiet away from the rest of the house. This means avoid working from the couch, in front of the TV or at the kitchen table. Ideally a desk with a good office chair is a great start. If this is already in place, ensure that you maintain good ergonomic practice, i.e. having your eyeline level with the top of the monitor, good posture and if required, a laptop riser and/or a footrest. Lighting is also important. If possible natural light, but if not, a desk lamp or adequate overhead lighting.



2. Maintain your regular routine

No matter what your regular morning routine is, you should maintain it while working from home. Get up, shower, get dressed and get that pot of coffee on. Putting on your normal work clothes helps to maintain that sense of routine. Dressing gowns are not an option! Get in front of your computer as soon as you can, the vast majority of us are more productive earlier in the day. This also includes taking your regularly scheduled breaks. Move away from your desk, rest your eyes, pop to the corner shop and get some fresh air if possible.



3. Write a to-do list

This might seem like an obvious one, but it's still very important. Not only does it make you accountable, but you can structure your jobs according to importance. Get those harder tasks done early while you're fresh. Leave easier, quicker and more fun items until the afternoon when concentration levels may not be as high! This includes things like making calls and answering the bulk of your e-mails.



4. Stay away from social media!

Again, it seems obvious, but social media can be a productivity-killer at the best of times. When working from home, a user can very quickly lose half an hour browsing Facebook or Twitter, which means a downturn in tasks completed. We recommend logging out of all your accounts on your desktop computer or laptop and where possible turn off notifications on your phone. Failing that, remove all temptation by leaving your phone in another room altogether until your scheduled break! This does not apply to music however. If having the local radio on in the background works for you, then great. Failing that, there are many useful 'concentration' playlists on Spotify which  have easy-to-listen instrumental music, ideal when you need to focus on the task in hand.










3 Major Reasons Your Office Needs a Breakout Area

A breakout area is a space which staff can use to take a short break, give their eyes a rest from screen-time, have an informal chat with a colleague or take a personal call. While a breakout area is still within the office environment, generally speaking furniture here is softer, more casual and allows for more use of colour. Breakout areas do not have to be large in size, but should be imaginative, aesthetically pleasing and somewhere staff will want to use.


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1. It promotes employee well-being

Breakout areas can improve employee wellbeing in many ways and in turn boost staff productivity. To comply with health and safety laws, employees must take regular breaks from their computers. A breakout area can provide a space where employees can relax while still remaining focused unlike say, a canteen. Moving from a desk to the breakout area a number of times a day also means staff are more active at work which promotes good circulation, improves moods and increases energy levels. An area with bright colours, appropriate lighting and funky furniture also promotes creativity.



2. Boost interaction & collaboration

While at a desk a team member can be focused on the task in hand. A breakout area allows staff to take much-needed time away from their desk, but also interact with each other. Smaller teams gathering in a breakout area can promote better levels of engagement, collaboration and satisfaction. When a company offers innovative solutions to employees both current and potential, this can foster an innovative culture which only improves the workplace environment. A breakout area removes the seriousness of a meeting room setting and better allows employees to express themselves in many instances.



3. Offers additional workspace

While a breakout area can be used to take a break to read a paper, make an important call or have an informal conversation, it can also double up as additional workspace. For example, an employee from another office who may be on a visit to your premises may use it to work remotely. A visitor from a supplier or even a client, may use the breakout area to get some light tasks done when they visit your workplace. This can foster greater relations between your companies. We have even seen our completed breakout areas being used as a space to hold informal interviews. A potential employee then gets a great view of your company culture and what it would be like to work within your organisation!

Whatever your breakout area requirement, we are sure to be able to offer a solution that fits your size, budget and company ethos.
















5 Trends We Love in Office Furniture Right Now

As you would expect, we are constantly looking at what’s trending right now as well as what is right around the corner for office environments. We do this in a number of ways, online research, trade magazines and visiting our suppliers both in Ireland and abroad (it’s a tough life!) to name a few. The best thing about our trips to supplier workshops is the tactile experience. When we visit a furniture producer, we get to see not only the process involved in creating these pieces, but we get to see how the finished product really looks.


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This is important because the products we provide can come in many different iterations, e.g. a chair can be supplied on castors, or a sled leg or a round-leg or a 4-legged variation! All of this means that we are well placed to see what’s happening not only at home but across Europe and the rest of the world when it comes to modern office layouts. With this in mind, here are 5 trends we love that are happening in office furniture right now.


flexible furniture


1. Flexible Furniture

This year we have seen an increase demand for furniture that can adapt to different needs in the office, thus creating a more flexible space. Having an area in your office with a media bench for example, means a small team can break away from the open plan office to discuss an upcoming project without disturbing the rest of the staff. A media bench with an integrated screen is also ideal for an ad-hoc Powerpoint presentation without the need for booking out a meeting room. Speaking of meeting rooms, we can see that more and more of our customers now are looking at integrated power and data functionality from their meeting room tables. This means that the table isn’t just a table anymore, it can become a large desk which multiple users can work from at one time. Breakout sofas can now also be used as informal interview spaces thanks to the high and wing back variations which can provide privacy and sound absorption in an open plan environment.


going green


2. Going green

Bringing nature indoors to the office environment isn’t exactly a new movement. Companies have been introducing potted plants and shrubbery for years now. The past two years however have seen the development of ‘moss walls’ or ‘living walls’ becoming a widely accepted feature of modern offices. Along with newer trends like stone finishes and raw wood, a feature like a moss wall has a calming influence on staff and is thought to improve concentration levels and have a positive impact on productivity. A ‘home-inspired’ vibe in the office also adds to employee comfort and ultimately satisfaction.


new desktop colours


3. Choice of Desktop finish

Once upon a time, you could have any colour desk you liked, as long as it was Beech (to paraphrase Henry Ford). It the mid to late 2000’s white was introduced and revolutionised how open plan offices could look. White allowed for a brighter looking space and a desk that felt bigger than traditional ones. A big benefit to white desking was that it could be complemented by any other pop of colour from a divider screen, office chair, carpets or sofas. While we still promote white for a lot of projects, finishes like Carini Walnut, Mocha and Wenge add a sophisticated and elegant finish where required by our clients. People are becoming bolder in their colour choices and pairing dark wood desking with a some natural yet vibrant fabrics makes for a cool, calming environment which also catches the eye of visitors to your space.


concentration spaces


4. Concentration spaces

While open plan offices are the norm, the challenge for companies now becomes how to eliminate distractions for employees. Breakout areas are popular for use as a space for people to leave their desk and focus on the task in hand. Equally they can also be used as an area for a team to congregate and discuss a shared project or simply take a 5 minute break without having to go to the canteen area. To maximise the potential for concentration, we can see the rise of furniture which can be partially enclosed such as a high back sofa with a canopy or a Pod with glass partitioning. These also fit the bill as ‘flexible furniture’ as we discussed earlier. Another benefit to employees is that they can now have a space to take personal calls when needed and join in video conference calls in peace.


acoustic curtain


5. Office acoustics

Acoustic systems come in many forms now; they can be hung from the ceiling, installed on walls or as freestanding floor screens. Many systems are now made of a special sound-dampening material and are especially effective for eliminating distraction and enhancing productivity in open floor plan workspaces. Depending on whether your goal is to reduce noise interference, eliminate annoying echoes or create more privacy, there is a system available. What is especially pleasing now is how the wall tiles in particular, can be used to create visually stimulating works of art. When used in conjunction with fabrics which correspond with a companies corporate colours, an eye-catching display can be formed. We have also seen an increase in acoustic curtain systems, which can function as partitioning along with the acoustic properties.­


For more information on any of the trends featured, please get in touch.