Why your desk setup needs a refresh

You know what it’s like when you have a desk-based job. You make yourself a cuppa, sit down, and a few hours later you finish your task but realise you haven’t moved in that time. You then rise from your chair, creaking and groaning like the floorboards of an old house. It really doesn’t have to be that way though. Usually, we talk about the technology you use to do your job, but today we’re putting our health and safety hats on. We promise you’re going to want to read this and take a look at your desk setup though, especially if you’re still working from home in some capacity.

First, what are the rules surrounding workstations?

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 apply to everyone who uses any kind of work equipment with a screen for an hour or more a day. This includes PCs, laptops, tablets, and even smartphones – all referred to as DSE (Display Screen Equipment).  The regulations set out the minimum requirements for workstations, and, although it might seem like health and safety nonsense is actually really important…

If you want to see what the regulations are, and the ideal positioning of equipment for optimal working health, visit the hse.gov.uk website, they have some excellent in-depth guidance here. It covers things like screens, keyboards, and mice as well as chair positioning.

Some of the most important points include:

  • Resting your forearms horizontally, with the top of your screen being level with your eyes
  • No bright glare or reflections – don’t sit opposite bright lighting or windows if you can help it
  • Make sure you have plenty of space under your desk for your legs
  • If you find you can’t touch your feet flat to the floor comfortably, a footrest might help make you more comfortable, and stop you from sitting in terrible positions like being cross-legged in your chair for any length of time

The science

Back in the simpler times of 2014, a study was conducted on 26 full-time, desk-based businessmen from Minneapolis. Researchers were aiming to see if sit-stand desks could lead to a reduced amount of time spent sitting for sedentary office workers. The study showed that the amount of sitting during the workday was reduced by 21% overall. But not only that, secondary findings discovered that participants reported improvements in their mood, how much energy they had, and their level of productivity as well as lower fatigue, decreased appetite and a lower dietary intake.

If you don’t believe us, you can find the full study report here.

We also have the inventor of the treadmill desk, James Levine. Don’t worry, you don’t have to start running marathons while looking at important Excel spreadsheets, but James conducted his own study, adding 1000 calories per day to the diets of office workers. They were asked not to change any of their other habits, and some of them gained weight while others did not. It was determined that those who did not put on weight actually spent much less time sitting down than their colleagues – definite food for thought!

So we’ve established that actually, having good working habits if you spend most of the day unmoving is a good thing, but how can you implement that?

Take a leaf out of the study’s book

One thing you could do is get yourself an adjustable desk. This will allow you to vary how you’re working throughout the day, and you’ll be able to stand up and give your back some respite, while still getting your work done. That’s a win-win!

Having an adjustable desk might not always be possible, especially if your desk setup is at home. In that case, you could consider making yourself a standing desk by popping your laptop or monitor on something to raise it up so you can stand while you work. If you’re going to do this, the top of your screen should be level with your eye line. Your workstation might not be pretty and instagrammable, but you might notice similar improvements to those noted by the study improvements.

We want working at your computer to be as seamless as possible, whether that means you getting up and stretching every 30 minutes, or working away safe in the knowledge that everything just works. There’s nothing more frustrating than a machine that freezes every time you open an email… That’s why we offer competitive and comprehensive IT support solutions, that you can learn more about here.