Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ergonomics at the workplace

Wikipedia defines the term ergonomics as: Ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with designing according to human needs, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance. The field is also called human engineering, and human factors. [link:]

We see ergonomics everywhere these days, one of the places we see it the most is in the chairs and seats we use, be it car seats... and myself being a bike rider, how can I forget the utterly comfortable seat of Bullet motorcycles, the shape and the design of the set is simply wonderful... *Ahem* this entry is about workplace, so bikes for a later day...

Anyway, getting to the point, we spend a lot of time at the office, in front of the computer screen, small things like the lighting of the room, the way our hands are positioned on the keyboard etc. play an important part in our comfort and when this goes goes down adds to the stress and strain... reducing productivity and efficiency...

So here are a few tips to optimize the ergonomics at the work place. Just one thing to point out, ergonomics encompass a lot of aspects, this one is related to the monitor and lighting.

  1. Distance between eyes and the screen: 2 feet - roughly an arms length.

    There are a lot of theories regarding this, but in my opinion the ideal distance should be around 2 feet or more... roughly at the distance of an arm's length...

    Try a simple experiment to see the strain on your eyes while concentrating at something very close to you. Hold out your arm and look at the fingers, now just move the arm towards you, concentrating on the finger, you'll see how the strain affects your eyes.

  2. Positioning the screen: such a way that you look down at the screen.

    This actually serves two purposes - 1. eyes are most comfortable while viewing objects at an angle - between 15 degrees to 40 degrees below the horizontal, and 2. it is easier on the neck.

    Thus try to position the screen in such a way that you are not looking straight at the screen but at an angle below your eyes.

  3. Tilt of the screen: top of the screen slightly farther than the bottom.

    Tilt the screen such that the top of the screen is slightly farther than than the bottom, this would been that when you are reading on the screen, your eyes are moving down in an arc thereby keeping the distance from the eyes more or less the same.

  4. Office lighting: indirect lighting, reduce glare and reflection.

    In the office, have lighting that is indirect, and as far as possible, try to avoid direct light. And one very important point - do not have any source of light which creates a reflection from the screen of the computer.

  5. Choosing screen colours: dark letters on lighter background.

    While we do a lot of reading, we often find it easier to read text which is darker in colour on a lighter background, than a text and background of similar colour, the reason is contrast, also with a lighter background, the difference in contrast between the screen and the reflection off it is reduced.
All for now, I hope to put some images regarding these as well as more ergonomics at the workplace... Till next time...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Save paper - Save the environment!

Saving paper at the office - we all can do a small bit for the environment, believe me - it is not all that difficult... It just take a conscious effort, saving paper at the office is not like quitting smoking or drinking, and you can do it without much effort too!!!

Right now I do not write as a preacher, I write here with a message and a few tips and ask you to look into your inner self when you press Command P or Control P for the printing that document, do you really need it?

Here are a few tips which might help you in saving some paper sheets the next time you print:
  1. Do you really need to print? Just think it over, is printing really required? Often the answer may be "no".
  2. Use that extra margin, by default most softwares set a very wide margin, often it is 1.5 inches, often you do not need to have such wide margins, by editing the margins you can get more on a sheet of paper thereby saving paper - also as you are getting more in a sheet of paper, it is easier to read as one wouldn't have to flip pages.
  3. 12 point or 11 point? I will ask you a question - in the picture, which block is more readable? The one on the left is a text block of 12 point, the right one is 11 point, often for reading there isn't much difference - but the difference lies in the lines per page you can accommodate - saving more paper.
  4. Use "Print Preview", this is especially useful when you are printing off web-pages, due to their formatting, they end up taking many more sheets of paper when printing, with the "useful print" only on a few sheets. Do a print preview, and see how many pages are useful and which ones aren't, then while giving the print command, instead of all pages - print only the ones you need.
  5. Print PDF rather than paper, often if you want to print documents for later reference, printing them out as PDf is also a great idea - these are in the digital format, can be easily carried around in flash drives or mailed to yourself, you can get numerous free pdf writers, also on Mac OS X, it is there by default!
  6. Print both sides of the paper, these days many printers are duplex which means they can print on both sides of the paper automatically rather than you having to manually flip the pages printed, simply see the advanced printing settings to set the "Print both sides option".
Often it happens that we do need to print a document - don't feel guilty, print it out! If you read this blog and if it had an impact on you or simply provoked a thought - you're excused, don't lose sleep over it...

But keep this in your mind... Save Paper!