Whether you’ve been working in an office for years or adjusting to a new work-from-home setup, you know that every day can be unpredictable, from fluctuating workloads to work emergencies. With that much uncertainty, the one thing that you can control is your own physical comfort and ergonomics. Spending hours fixated on a computer screen can be taxing on your physical health, but with the right positioning and posture, you can get through the workday without dealing with any aches or pains. How should a monitor be positioned? Read on to learn more.
Understanding Ergonomics at Work
Ergonomics broadly refers to the science of fitting work tasks and roles to the person doing the work. Naturally, ergonomics will vary from job to job. A construction worker exists in a different working environment than a barista. However, any job will come with three broad ergonomic stressors:
- The physical force required to complete a task
- Static or awkward postures that settle in as you are working on a task
- Any repetitive motions performed
Anyone or a combination of these factors can contribute to discomfort, and consistently bad ergonomics may actually result in injuries. Static or awkward postures can be the most prominent of these three when working within an office environment. To simplify, the human body was not designed to stay in any single position for long stretches of time. Repetitive motions can also be a problem and contribute to repetitive stress injuries. In the office, that can usually mean tendinitis in the wrists and hands.
Just about everything can contribute to your ergonomics, from how you sit to how you reach for everyday objects to how your monitor is set up.
How to Position Computer Monitors
If you are spending upwards of eight hours a day staring at a computer screen, you absolutely want it to be properly positioned to prevent strain on your eyes, neck, and shoulders. Good computer positioning can help you maintain good posture and ultimately supports good ergonomics so that you can focus on your work instead of potential aches and pains. If you want to know how to fix monitor screen position, here are some things to keep in mind to get you started, both of which can easily be fixed with the proper monitor mount or monitor wall mount.
The exact optimal screen height will vary from person to person. As a general rule of thumb, the top of the computer monitor should be at or slightly below your eye level. If you have a laptop, you can also use a laptop stand to adjust the height of your notebook screen to your desired height. You essentially should not have to bend or tilt your neck or any other part of your body just to look at your computer screen. Doing so can contribute to discomfort and strain and affect your productivity. The correct height is also determined by the height of your desk. Avoid desks that result in slouching and poor posture.
Similar to height, the distance of the screen can vary. If the monitor is too close, you may end up straining your eyes, while keeping the monitor too far away may make it difficult to read text. You generally want to keep the monitor at least an arm’s length away from you, but this also dependent on the size of your monitor. For a larger monitor, you may want to push the screen back even farther. Adjust as you go until you find your sweet spot.
Along with potential eye strain, screen distance can influence your general posture without you even knowing it. You may find yourself leaning back or hunching forward to see your screen. You may end up overextending your arms. Try to position your monitor so that you can see the screen in its entirety without moving any part of your body or straining your eyes. Finding the optimal viewing distance may take time, but is an essential part of remaining comfortable in your workspace for extended periods of time.
Screen height and distance won’t matter if your monitor is at an awkward angle. A poor angle can contribute to eye strain and potentially even injuries to the neck and shoulders if you’re not careful. Research suggests that, at rest, your eyes naturally look slightly downward. The exact line of sight can vary, though most findings suggest that the downward angle can range from 15 to 30 degrees.
Keep your computer monitor directly in front of you. If the monitor is not adjustable, do your best to at least get the correct height by using a monitor stand. If you can, tilt the monitor slightly upward about 10 to 20 degrees to accommodate your gaze.
Figuring out the actual viewing angle will take a little trial and error, and you may find yourself adjusting the tilt throughout the day. As a general rule, open up your favorite browser. With your eyes relaxed and your head in a neutral position, you should be looking at the browser’s address bar. If your view is at all different, adjust your monitor accordingly.
The location of your monitor also matters to your overall comfort and ergonomics. Where should a computer monitor be positioned? Ideally, your screen should be directly in front of you in a position that eliminates any potential glare on the screen. Glare can cause eye strain, but more often, it will cause you to adjust your position to read the screen, which can lead to some poor posture.
Try to keep your monitor at a right angle from any windows or lights. Tilting your screen can also reduce some glare, but try not to sacrifice your computer’s position too much to avoid glare. If that’s not possible, consider closing your blinds at peak sunlight hours and turning off or changing bright lights.
How to Position Dual Monitors
Dual monitor setups have become increasingly popular for some workstations. While most of the same rules still apply, there are still some slight differences. First things first when deciding to convert to dual monitors, be sure there is enough room on your desk to support both monitors while also maintaining a comfortable space for yourself. Clutter can have a tendency to take over a workspace and with double the computers, that can lead to stress! Take a look at Mount-It’s article on how to organize a desk with two monitors to help keep your workspace in order.
Determine Your Usage
If you spend the same amount of time looking at both monitors, consider creating dual monitors and set them next to each other. The point where the two monitors meet should be directly in front of you. Angle them slightly so that they form a V shape.
If you are spending more time on one of the monitors, make that your primary monitor and set it up directly in front of you. Place the second monitor to the right or left of the primary monitor. Angle the second monitor at about 30 degrees. Dual monitor arms can make on-the-fly adjustments easy.
Try to use two monitors that are the exact same size (ideally, get the same make and model of monitors). This will make your life much easier and your viewing experience considerably more comfortable.
Don’t Forget Your Posture
While monitor positioning is important, don’t forget good sitting posture either. That means:
- Sitting with your shoulders back and relaxed and your neck in a neutral position
- Keeping your feet planted flat on the floor
- Having your knees bent at a 90-degree angle
- Maintaining the natural curve in your back without hunching or leaning back
Above all, take a rest when you need to. As mentioned, your body is not designed for extended periods in any singular position. Every hours, take a few minutes to stretch, move your legs, and get the blood circulating back through your limbs.
The right monitor setup can make a huge difference for your personal comfort and your productivity. It make take some trial and error, but don’t be afraid to make adjustments as you go to find a position and angle that works best for your needs.