Computer Ergonomics

By: Joshua Song

As more and more people spend more and more time at their own computers, the need for a comfortable experience at one’s devices has become increasingly dire to the situations of many. From uncomfortable chairs to keyboards to desk heights, even the most trivial parts of one’s desk setup can lead to discomfort for the user in one way or another. Since some people now spend the vast majority of their awake time at their computers, the small deficiencies of different desk setups have been more noticeable to their users. Luckily, many of these can be easily fixed through a bit of research.

The most common and easily noticeable part of one’s desk setup is the chair. Now, the user does not need to buy an expensive office or gaming chair to enhance their sitting experience, although that could be a potential solution. A cheaper and simpler solution would be simply to purchase something like a seat cushion, which would help especially during long sessions of sitting down. An even cheaper solution would be to fix one’s posture, although that would certainly require a lot more work and persistence from the perspective of the user, although there would definitely also be greater long-term benefits. An alternative to sitting desks would be standing desks, but to make the transition to standing desks would not only cost a lot of money but would also take a while to get used to.

In the case an individual has a desktop computer with a separate monitor unit, or even just a normal laptop with an external monitor, a useful gadget to have would be an adjustable monitor stand. By positioning the monitor at a more comfortable height, one could reduce a lot of the strain that goes to the neck and spine. Larger monitors would also reduce the need to bend forward to see things on the monitor at a closer distance as the readability of the monitor would significantly increase.

A less common, more difficult, and likely more expensive solution would be to change the peripherals on one’s computer such as the mouse or keyboard. For computer mice, there are many options, ranging from a sculpted mouse, a  vertical mouse, and even a trackball-based mouse. Based on personal needs, one could easily acquire a mouse that fits their personal workflow. Each of these variants have suitable products from around $30 and up. For keyboards, there have been many variations on ergonomic keyboards within the market, and often have layouts and appearance that are fascinating and strange to the average user. Many variants have something called a “split-layout”, where each half of the keyboard is split and angled so that the user can have a more comfortable typing experience. The value of this could vary quite a bit for each consumer, especially considering how many ergonomic and specialized keyboards fetch quite high prices, usually in the $200-300 range. However, if resources allow, this could really be a worthwhile investment, considering how much of the time spent at the computer is spent up by typing.

This is obviously just a simple list of the potential upgrades that one could make, but there are many more, especially when accounting for bodily anatomy differences such as height and hand size, as well as medical conditions, such as RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury) and carpal tunnel syndrome. Hopefully, the reader will be able to make upgrades accordingly and to match their needs for the most comfortable computer experience.