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Work Surface Layout for Better Ergonomics and Productivity

When people discuss about office ergonomics, the main things that come to mind are chairs and desks. But office ergonomics is much more than that. It is about the interaction of your work environment with your human body. Chairs and desk are only part of it. One component of office ergonomics that is overlooked but easily remedied is the working surface. For an office worker that is desk bound, your work surface is your office desk.

So how should your work surface be setup?

First things first. The top of your work surface should be your elbow level. This means you have can comfortably place your eblows on the surface with your upper arms more or less hanging loose straight down. This is prevent your shoulder muscles from straining to hold your arms up all day.

You might see some people working on surfaces much higher than elbow height while resting your elbows or lower arms near the elbows on the work surface. Yes, while this alleviates the strain on your shoulder muscles, it reduces blood circulation.

Work zones

Once your working surface is at the right height, you now need to organise the items on the work surface. You need to sort them out into three different frequency of use - Usual work, Occsaional Work and Rare work. Work here can refer to equipment such as stationary or documents or folders.

Next you then organise the work items into their respective "semi-circular zones" (see figure for layout).

The principle involved is simple enough; items used frequently should be located within easy reach. The further your extend your hand, the effort and strain you have to bear. This layout also more productive as you will spend less time reaching for frequently used items.

Getting used to it.

This is a easy solution and cheap too!  But whenever we enter a new environment, it takes sometime for us to adjust. Give yourself a week or two to get use to your new working surface layout. You might be surprised with your increased productivity and better well-being.

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