You may think this post borders on frivolity but take a minute to think how we spent each day, more and more time in our working stations, the majority of us still sitting all day, plus bad postures, and really awful user-experience equipment. This is where ergonomics take a role.
The reality is harsh… carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, poor blood circulation, stiff neck, muscle tenderness and aches, etc.
For a QA like me, that spends 8 hrs a day reviewing code and discovering cute bugs — sometimes even more when having a release — this simply couldn’t be endured anymore.
A couple of years ago I started having numbness in my legs and was startled since I’ve always been practicing sports or constantly going to the gym; then the issue couldn’t be that I wasn’t doing exercise.
I started researching and encountered a lot of info and recommendations. At the time, I considered commercial standing-desk options really expensive, and coincidently I had just finished a carpentry workshop, hence I decided to build a simple little desk to place on top of my working station, resulting on a very rustic and Frankenstein-like standing desk ($30 USD).
Can’t say it wasn’t difficult at first, getting used to be standing for a while and then sitting, alternating every ~20min. But eventually I was doing this unconsciously. Currently there are apps that you can use as reminders, like StandUp! or Stand App.
After several months of using this option, I had to work remotely from another city and I couldn’t travel with my little desk. So, I had to adequate my own desk at home: improvised a rack to set my 29" monitor, plus bought an articulate arm support for my laptop that allocates space for a cooling pad with an extra arm for an iIpad/Iphone ($87 USD). Lastly, I added to this combo a little shelf to place my keyboard and mouse at the appropriate height ($10 USD). As you can see, there’s room for creativity and using what is within your means. Other things that have been aiding my daily routine are:
- Gel crystal mousepad/wrist mouse rest (I’ve using this one since 2008, really good quality)
- Gel crystal wrist rest for keyboard (just started testing it, it’s a good rest)
- Ergonomic chair (there are more comfy and sophisticated options = $$$, but this one has turned out ok)
- Anti-fatigue standing mat (you notice the change right away)
- Microsoft Natural Wireless laser mouse 7000 (provided by my company, but any cheaper versions will do the job)
Does it sound like a lot? Well, if we do the math, it’s not that much money. Everything adds up to around $180 USD. Most of these things are usually provided by your company, so you might end up spending less money.
Ultimately, investing in these little objects is not only a huge health benefit but will also make you feel well and more comfortable; I’ve definitely felt happier and more productive ;D.
During these last 2 years, I’ve seen many colleagues change their working habits for the better and definitely for a software development company this is a critical matter; I am glad to say at @Nearsoft we are always free of promoting new ideas and improving our daily routines. This freedom allowed us to create a leadership team regarding ergonomics issues and we are currently working on making a better working environment for everyone interested.
If you want to know more about good working postures take a look to this eTool or my little guide for posture at work. And for great standing desk options with reviews included, check out this article. Happy working!
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Artemisa Yescas Engler, Software Quality Engineer @Nearsoft.