Choosing ergonomic equipment at your workspace, you might first consider ergonomic chairs, height-adjustable desks, or possibly footrests. But how well is your computer monitor positioned? You spend hours in front of that screen and it’s crucial to your work, but how do you have it placed along with your other ergonomic furniture? A crucial component of an ergonomic and organized workstation is a properly positioned monitor.
An inappropriately located or tilted screen forces you into awkward and uncomfortable postures which can eventually lead to painful musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Eyestrain is another issue that is easily caused by incorrectly positioned monitors. Eyestrain is unconformable and causes a significant drop in focus, energy, and productivity—and an issue that’s easily solved by checking how you have your monitor set up at your workstation.
Your eyes see more visual field below the horizon than above. Consider how much more of the floor you see than the ceiling when looking down a hallway. You should be able to comfortably see much more of the screen using this quick six-item checklist to ensure you’ve got your monitor ready for work:
- This one’s just right. Find the correct height. Optimally your computer monitor top should be about 2 inches higher than your eye level, whether you're sitting or standing. Preferably you should use monitor stands if needed, but a stack of hard books will do in a pinch (this probably isn't a great permanent solution). Second and third monitors should be identical in dimensions and height settings—and should be placed as close to one another as possible. All screens need to have identical resolution as well, so you’re not forcing your eyes to readjust every time you need to focus on a different one.
- Lights, monitor, action! Speaking of screen resolution, make sure that your screen isn’t too bright. Just because your company or the manufacturer set up the monitor at a certain brightness doesn’t mean you have to keep it that way. Adjust the brightness of your screen to your comfort level. Looking at a computer monitor or two all day five or more days a week, can cause some serious eye strain. Lowering the the brightness can assist in your level of alertness and focus.
- No sunglasses needed. Bright lighting or any form of glare behind your screen can cause eyestrain and be an uncomfortable to downright painful computing experience. If you can’t adjust the angle of your monitor, try closing the curtains or blinds—or turning off, removing, or changing the lights if there is a bright light behind the screen. You also don’t want bright lighting bouncing off the monitor either. Use the same tips mentioned to help with this issue.
- A safe distance. Remember when your mom and dad used to tell you not to sit so close to the TV? That’s true for all screens. Don’t sit too close. You shouldn’t slouch over your desk to be closer to your monitor nor should you be leaning back in your chair. The ideal distance to be from your monitor is about the length of your arm.
- Angles, angles, everywhere. Hold your right arm out horizontally. Your middle finger should almost touch the center of the screen with your chair at an angle of around 100 – 110 degrees in a slight recline. Make small changes to screen height and angle from that starting position. The monitor’s center should be about 17 – 18 degrees below horizontal for optimal viewing, and this is where it will be if you follow the tip just described.
- Now you see it. Have your monitor placed where you can easily and clearly see and read the screen without having to bend your neck or head. You should never sit or stand in an odd position to use your monitor properly. Set it up following all these hints and your body, especially your eyes, neck and shoulders won’t suffer.
Whether you’re sitting or standing, your monitors should always be in the right place while you work—and it’s easy to do with a monitor riser or adjustable monitor arm. When your computer screens are set in the proper position, you’re more likely to stay comfortable at your desk.