Office Ergonomics: How to Stay Comfy When You’re on the Phone All Day on

Your health and comfort is only a stand-up-and-stretch away.

Got a job that keeps you on the phone all day? It means you’re probably sitting at a desk with a computer in front of you too. It may be a great job, but it might be killing you. You’ll likely spend more time sitting behind a desk than anything else you’ll do during your life. While that’s a depressing statistic – and something you probably already knew – the news about being desk-bound with a phone in your ear gets even worse.

It’s not your phone and desk that’s the problem. Or even the chair, for that matter. (We’ll round back to those 3 pieces of office furniture in a while.) What’s wreaking havoc with your health isn’t even the office politics. It’s sitting.

The on your butt blues

Sitting consumes almost no energy. Your calorie expenditure drops to about 1 per minute. Push that against how much sugar you just dumped in your coffee. Stir it with these scary stats about what happens as soon as you park yourself in the desk chair and get on the phone:

  • Electrical activity in your leg muscles virtually ceases

Enzymes that aid in breaking down the fat from the donut you had for breakfast drops by 90%

Are you still sitting there on the phone 2 hours later?

  • Your good cholesterol (HDL) level has fallen by 20%

And by the end of your average 8-hour day sitting at your desk on phone calls:

  • The effect of the insulin your body produced has dropped by 24%

And you thought the donut was bad for you.

Humans weren’t meant to spend the day sitting

We evolved living on our feet. The advent of today’s office job has flipped this upside-down. When you add the amount of time spent commuting, as well as the hours you’ll spend parked in front of the TV this evening, it averages about 9.3 hours daily. That’s even more time than we spend (well, most of us) sleeping.

What has all this sitting done to us? Medical studies say it has made us up to 40% more likely to die within 15 years than your health-conscious coworker who sits only half that time. Packing on some extra pounds since you got the job? Current estimates indicate that 1 in 3 Americans today are considered obese. Your healthy coworker who gets up and moves around stays thin because they sit about 2.5 times less than their obese office mates.

What you can do

Don’t despair. It’s easy to fight back against these statistics. All you have to do is get up and take a walk around the office. Because, come on … you are allowed to do that, even if taking calls is essential to your job. Here are other things you can do to set up an office environment that works for your health, instead of against it:

Don’t slouch. Do you lean in to look at your computer monitor? This has you pivoting at your hips at about a 70º angle. If you hear your parents in your ear telling you to sit up straight, give them the brush-off, sort of. Yes, that’s better, but the optimal angle is about 135º. It means you’ll be leaning back slightly, and that puts less strain on your back.

Elevate your monitor and keyboard. Do you crouch forward to crank out those emails? It means you’re probably also looking down into a monitor that’s sitting at desk level. Your elbows should bend at a 90º angle so your outstretched hands are parallel to the floor, and your keyboard should be right below those hands. The top of your screen should be nearly level with your eyes. You don’t want to have to bend your head up or down to see the majority of what’s on the computer screen. And, that screen should be about 20 to 30 inches from the tip of your nose.

Stop using your laptop keyboard and track pad. The aching between your shoulder blades is a sign that you’re spending much of your day hunched over your laptop. A wireless keyboard and track pad that pairs with your laptop are far less expensive than a bunch of visits to the chiropractor to undo the knots and muscle tension you’re creating. It’s money well spent.

Don’t cradle the phone receiver in your neck. There’s an easier and much healthier way to talk hands-free. Get a headset for your phone. Like the external keyboard and track pad, you’ll find plenty of wireless headsets. But ask your IT department first. The one that came with your phone might still be sitting in the box. It messes up your hair? Two words for you: ear buds.

Set a timer. There’s one on your laptop. You’ve got one or more on your smartphone. Have it remind you to get up and do something every 20 to 30 minutes.

All of these tips fall under the topic of ergonomics, which is more than an HR buzzword – it’s a way to stay healthy. A generation of technology and desk jobs is no match for evolution. You weren’t meant to sit. You weren’t meant to slouch. You were meant to move.

That’s not necessarily in conflict with a desk job and being on the phone all day. If it helps, keep evolution in mind. Back then, it was a walk through the savannah while on the lookout for sabre tooth tigers. Today, it’s brisk stroll through the workplace while on the lookout for that one particular co-worker who will bore you to death with office gossip. Either scenario is preferable to 8 hours of your rear end stuck to an office chair.

And remember, we can help with the reliable, convenient phone and communications part of your healthier office environment. Check out CallSprout’s list of services and fill out our convenient form to see exactly how much you can save.

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