While a lot of people are wondering how to get into IT. So people who are in IT are thinking about how to get out of IT or at least how to stay in IT. IT is demanding not only professionally and mentally, but also health-wise. Sitting in front of a computer is not natural for humans. Sitting in front of a monitor for long periods of time has unfortunate consequences for IT specialists, which, if left unaddressed, not only impairs their performance, but can also make it impossible for them to work. Here again, prevention is the key and so in this article I will describe how to set up your workplace properly so that you can prevent health problems from working at the computer.
Today, a person spends about 8 hours a day working. Which is 1/3 of a day. That's a lot of time.
Therefore, one should optimize the workplace so that one feels good and does not have health problems from work.
> You can influence all of this by workplace equipment, specifically workplace ergonomics.
When I was a student I didn't have my own desk. Then I got a desk that was destined to be thrown away.
Even as a student at the CTU, when I was in the Strahov dormitory, there was no desk according to the legal standards, just a little table with dimensions of about 40x40cm.
> But the desk is the first thing you have to provide well in the workplace.
A desk for PC work should meet a few very basic standards: It should be wide and long enough. Length is especially important if you use multiple monitors. Width was essential back when CRT monitors were still around, but today you can fit an LCD monitor on your desk and have room for a keyboard with no problem.
You also need to evaluate the legroom, if the desk has integrated cabinets and drawers, you will be left with little legroom. The back of the desk/wall can be an issue as well. It is also common to see on various tables a bar that connects the right and left boards to the table sides that form the legs - probably the purpose is to increase strength. But such a bar gets in the way when you want to put legs under the table.
What table to get Choose the simplest table possible. For example, a plain kitchen table may be fine, as long as it's sturdy. There are also plenty of desks on the market labelled as office desks.
Personally, I got a reclining desk from IKEA, which has a height adjustment that can be changed with a handle. Because it doesn't contain a sue motor or electronics, nothing can break in it that can't be repaired. At the same time, its price is relatively low. Specifically, the IKEA Trotten table with a 160x80cm tabletop costs in 2023: CZK 7990 incl. VAT (approx. 333EUR)
With a positioning table you can then make your work more varied and work standing up.
Not only is it a change, but instead of stiff movements you can move more.
And with videoconferencing, you'll know so well that a given meeting is really long. Alternatively, you can make a given meeting more interesting with a little exercise.
If your specialty is IT, it's a safe bet that you'll use more than one monitor. The main thing is that the monitor is correctly positioned! The monitor should not be placed against a light source. And it must be placed high enough so that you don't slouch. You don't want my computer hump! Yes working on a laptop in a coffee shop is exactly the wrong case of ergonomics. The correct monitor height is: the top edge of the monitor should be at eye level if you are sitting upright.
If you own a laptop, a sensible option is to put the laptop on a stand and attach an external keyboard and mouse to it. That way you can take the display to a higher and therefore correct level and use better peripherals as well.
Laptop stand from MAX model MNM1510FD:
There are many keyboards. Most of them have exactly the same ergonomics. You can buy keyboards that are cranked. That's a slightly better solution. You don't have to have your hands so unnaturally bent at the wrist. I'm happy with a split keyboard, though. This way I don't have to extend my elbows out to the sides and forward, but keep them close to my torso and more in a natural straight body position.
I would like to point out the asymmetrical positioning of the keyboards and touchpad on the laptop, laptops that have keyboards including the number pad have this. Such a keyboard and touchpad are not placed in the center of the laptop and the laptop user then curves unnaturally to one side. That's why I chose the new laptop TUXEDO Pulse 15 to not have a numeric keypad.
Two-piece keyboard R-GO split and vertical mouse:
With frequent and prolonged work, people commonly suffer from carpal tunnel.
They often think that some miraculous and expensive mouse will solve it. But there is no such thing.
Rotate between different mice and other positioning devices!
For example, I've come to love the vertical wireless mouse.
I can have a regular mouse with a wire, but a vertical mouse is the only wireless mouse, because otherwise the wire gets in the way when I have the mouse placed between me and the keyboard.
> I also like to put the vertical wireless mouse in the gap of my two-piece keyboard, see photo.
Other positioning devices you can try include a trackball.
If your wrist is fine, stretch it. Or do a sporting activity that will stretch and strengthen your wrist. You can also strengthen your wrist with dumbbell exercises.
Gaming chairs are often in fashion. Gaming chairs are nothing special. They are money wasted. The main problem is that gaming chairs are shaped to fit the average person's body, so unless you fit the average, which is 50% of people, the shapes won't suit you.
What kind of chair to get? A well available and affordable one is a regular kitchen chair, such a chair has a straight and high back and so naturally leads to a straight sitting position and is versatile for any size of person.
Office chair on castors:
Another option is to buy a professional office chair. How do you know a good office chair? Such a chair has an armrest on one column and this armrest is fully adjustable. You can adjust the height, the angle and determine the offset towards the edge of the desk. Sometimes the armrest can also be moved sideways. And that's the advantage of a really good office chair, even if it looks mediocre at first glance.
If you're sitting slouched, with your shoulders thrust out in front of you and your head bent down, it's wrong. You should be sitting up straight in your chair with your shoulder blades pulled together and looking ahead of you at the monitor.
Workstation at home
Even if you will be working from home (called a homeoffice) you need to set aside a space for this.
This is what one of my workstations looks like, where the laptop is propped up in a box, with a two-piece keyboard and vertical mouse as peripherals.
Two external monitors are connected to the laptop.
This workstation with three displays stands on a positioning table.
> One of my workstations with three displays:
Health is essential
Whether you're an employee or working for yourself as a freelancer, always think about the ergonomics of your workplace, because your workplace affects your health, which in turn affects your mental strength. In the worst case scenario, you can cause yourself such problems by working inappropriately that you will then be unable to work at all.
If you want to become a good programmer or linux admin and pursue this profession in the long term, it is primarily up to you to set up your workplace properly to make this long and challenging journey.
Whatever workplace you equip yourself better, remember that the human body is not built for sitting in front of a computer. Therefore, if you want to maintain good health, you need to move regularly, ideally doing some non-monotonous sports, strengthening and stretching your body. Those who neglect this will end up in rehabilitation or in a spa.
Yes, as you have noticed neither manufacturers nor IT companies are interested in dealing with people's health. And if they do address it it is in the case of employers marketing and in the case of peripheral vendors a way to pull several times the amount out of the buyer's wallet with a small adjustment.
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