With more of us working from home each year, it’s important to ensure our home offices are designed with health and comfort in mind. It’s easy to overlook the little things until we suddenly notice that wrist or eye strain or a nagging backache that seems to hit around 4:30 every day.
Big offices spend millions each year ensuring their equipment is ergonomically sound and comfortable, but the home office is often overlooked. As you spend your days sitting and looking at monitors, it’s a great idea to review and improve your own working conditions. I recently had the chance to test out some new ergonomic home office gear from Kensington.
Why Ergonomics Matter
Creating an ergonomically sound home office environment has many benefits, the most obvious being reducing pain and discomfort. Feeling better and not having to deal with aches and pains is a win all by itself, but you’ll also be helping your future self out by avoiding future chronic conditions as well as doctor and optometrist visits.
Beyond the obvious, you want to be comfortable while you work. Not only will it improve your productivity, but you’ll find yourself in a better mood when you sit down to work. Imagine your home office as a soothing, pleasant place that you enjoy being in. It will do wonders for your mood and improve the rest of your day!
How to make a home office more comfortable
Comfort in the home office is all about having things places to reduce repetitive movement, avoiding awkward angles for your neck, spine, and forearms, and ensuring your chair is set up correctly to keep your main sitting position from causing back pain.
Ergonomics, at its core, is the practice of placing things in a way that promotes comfort while removing the potential for injury and pain. Let’s look at some office equipment that can help ensure your home office is a positive and comfortable place to be.
Kensington SmartFit Space Saving Single Monitor Arm
This is my absolute favourite home office upgrade! Using a monitor arm or raised mount is a great way to both save space on your desk and give yourself a ton of flexibility for positioning.
Kensington’s monitor arm clamps securely on the edge of your desk (it even fit on my very awkwardly shaped desk, and has options for hole mounts too), and it uses a universal mounting bracket that attaches to the back of your monitor. With the monitor secure, there’s a knob that allows you to adjust the height of your monitor. The best part of this monitor arm is that it allows you to easily slide a laptop underneath for an upper/lower screen configuration.
Using a monitor arm also allows you to rotate your monitor to portrait orientation, tilt and swivel the monitor to find the optimal position for your setup. Kensington also sells a double monitor arm if you happen to have a two-monitor setup.
SmartFit Easy Riser Go Laptop Riser for up to 17” Laptops
If you’re using a laptop, you may find yourself hunching over to both reach the keyboard and see the monitor. A laptop riser helps bring the laptop monitor up to eye level, as high as 7 inches from the desk surface.
Another benefit to the riser is that it allows for better heat dispersal, which could help keep your computer cool and prolong your laptop’s life. The riser is also portable; you can take it with you to use wherever you might require it.
Kensington Pro Fit Ergo Vertical Mouse
The vertical mouse is a great evolution of technology that allows users to use a mouse device while avoiding strain on the wrist, which can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, where the nerves in the wrist joint are compressed over time from gripping a standard mouse. I converted to a vertical mouse about a decade ago when I started noticing the strains of carpal tunnel.
The vertical mouse is tilted upwards, so you use it almost sideways; the bottom of your wrist won’t make contact with the desk, (and if it does, you won’t be placing pressure on it) is’ more the edge of your hand, if you think of making a handshake motion. A vertical mouse is designed to sit comfortably in hand with buttons placed within normal reach; you’ll be moving your fingers and wrist less than with a normal mouse.
The Kensington Ergo is also wireless (my old one was not) and I can’t express how much easier it is to use, saving you from dragging and moving the mouse constrained by a cable. It’s also a bit more compact than my older wired vertical mouse.
It’s powered by a single AA battery which will last you up to a year, and it has a low battery alarm to warn you when the charge is running low.
There’s no set-up needed, it’s a simple plug and play device: You plug the small USB receiver/dongle into your computer’s USB port and you’re up and running instantly. The dongle/receiver can even be stored within the body of the mouse when traveling. Smart!
Kensington Rocking Footrest
Having your feet rest at an unnatural angle or keeping them flexed throughout the workday may be hard on your ankle joints and calves. Using a footrest takes the pressure off the ankle and allows the calves to rest, improving your circulation.
Kensington has a 360-degree swivelling board that will enable you to move your feet naturally and is rated to 300 pounds. It has padded feet and rubber bars to keep your feet from slipping or moving the footrest: Just place your feet on the bar and rock them back and forth; it’s good for fidgety types, but also gets your lower body moving. It also can make an awkward-height chair a little easier on your back and legs too, as I found out personally.
Memory Foam Seat cushion
The office I’m using his days is temporary, meaning the chair I’m sitting on is not my first pet. It’s a rather stiff wooden dining room chair that is anything but comfortable. That’s why I opted for a memory foam seat cushion from Kensington. This seat cushion is actually quite large and easily fills the entire seat area. With a nonskid base, it holds its place on the chair even when I’m getting up or down. The memory foam is comfortable and contoured and definitely makes a huge difference in my comfort factor.
Kensington Studio Caddy
Another bit of tech I added to my home office is the Kensington Studio Caddy with wireless Qi charging for Apple devices. This two-piece charging base and storage rack is specifically designed for the Apple ecosystem. There’s two parts to it: a heavy-bottomed vertical space saving rack to cradle your MacBook or iPad, and a companion Qi charging plate and stand combo that will hold your iPhone and a pair of AirPods, and you can use them seperately or together. There’s also an optional Apple Watch charger for this set up too.
I like it because I can slide my laptop out of the way, or slot my iPad in and plug a cable into one of the USB or USB-C outlets to charge it. Meanwhile the wireless charging keeps the phone and earbuds ready. With one charger, I’m able to charge my headphones, phone, laptop and iPad, and keep everything looking very tidy. I love this dock!
Studio Dock for iPad Pro
Want to use your iPad as a second screen for your Apple MacBook, Kensington has created a way to keep it with them off the surface of your desk. The Kensington iPad Studio Dock is both a heavy-bottomed stand as well as a device that will keep your iPad charged, and lets you orient it either vertically or horizontally.
The stand is composed a Qi charging areas with a nice gray fabric wrap covers the charging plate for a sleek professional look. The iPad pluds directly intot a fixed USB-C connector on the tilt pad so your device will always get juice. (Of note this is only for newer iPads that use USB-C charging.)
The stand looks good and gives you back a lot of your desk’s real estate.
Overall, I’ve been enjoying my experience with Kensington’s new ergonomic gear, and I can definitely recommend these accessories to you.
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