The correct setup of an office workstation may have a big impact on productivity and on the overall morale of the staff. Employers must ensure that the space and the equipment comply with current Health and Safety regulations, but there are other aspects that must be taken into account despite not being compulsory.

Space allocation

The 1992 Workplace Regulations stipulate that the minimum work space needed is 40 square feet for each employee. However, it has been proven that workstations that allow 80 square feet per person create a far more comfortable and productive working environment.

Computer setup

Most office staff spend almost 8 hours a day sitting at their desks. This means that an inadequate workstation setup could place a big strain on your employees, both in physical and in psychological terms.

The incorrect placement of the keyboard could give rise to conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, which in severe cases could even result in a disability. Ideally, the elbows should be at a 90-110 degree angle with the keyboard. The height of the keyboard should be adjusted so that there is no unnecessary strain on the shoulders, and so that the wrists are in line with the keyboard. The keyboard should be kept clean and well maintained so that typing does not require staff to press the keys too hard. The mouse should be at the same height as the keyboard.

Computer screens should be placed 18 to 24 inches away from the user, otherwise staff may develop cervical problems and visual fatigue. The top of screen should be aligned with the eyes.

Desk setup

The space under a desk should not be considered storage space. Although it is very common to place CPUs, bins, and filing cabinets under a desk, this only contributes to cluttering the space and forcing staff into uncomfortable positions. Ideally, desks should have rounded edges and 20 to 28 inches of clear space between the top surface and the floor. Also, make sure that no cables interfere with the routine movements of staff.

Ergonomic furniture

Although office staff spend most of their day sitting, their legs and feet still need support. Ergonomic chairs allow staff to adjust the chair's height so that the keyboard is not lower or higher than their wrists. These chairs often have padded edges that help maintain the knees at the ideal 90-110 degree angle. They also provide excellent lower back support and the possibility of changing the seating position throughout the day.

Other useful pieces of ergonomic office furniture include document holders that can be placed between monitor and keyboard (not on the sides of the monitor, as this causes neck strain), and wireless headsets that afford flexibility of movement.

Lighting

Thanks to extensive research, today we know that the best form of lighting in an office should combine natural and artificial light sources. Keeping this principle in mind will help you prevent problems like headaches, visual strain, oversight errors, fatigue, and diminished productivity.

There should be no shadows or reflections interfering with the visual field of employees. Using light diffusers is a good idea, so that there is no direct lighting over a workstation. When computers are involved, anti-glare screen protectors should be used. Monitors should be placed at a right angle with sources of light and windows. If that is not possible due to the office layout, invest in adjustable blinds that allow staff to control the amount of light that enters the room.