People today are spending longer hours at work,
in front of their computers, just to meet their
pressing deadlines and KPIs. As a result, there
are more incidents of debilitating back pain,
neck ache, headaches, RSI and burnout that are
reducing productivity and increasing stress
Three-quarters of workers in Europe suffer
health problems as a result of working on
computers. One survey found that backache was
the most common complaint, followed by sore eyes
and headaches. In fact, more than half of
computer users each year develop neck or
shoulder symptoms and just over one-third
develop an impairment or the loss of some
In Australia, back problems are the leading
specific musculoskeletal cause of health system
expenditure, with an estimated total cost of
$700 million in 1993-1994 .
So what is the answer?
Movement prevents productivity attrition.
By releasing the build up of physical tension,
people are able to sustain their working stamina
and focus without the physical ailments or a
drop in productivity.
Here are 3 ways to protect your productivity
1. Smart Ergonomics
Sitting at the computer for hours at a time
fatigues your muscles and creates physical
tension. Using some of the basic ergonomic
principles you can avoid a lot of unnecessary
strain and maximize your productivity. Here are
a. Have a direct line of sight to your monitor –
you should not need to look up, down or twist to
see your screen.
b. Use chairs that have a tilt function. It is
recommended to sit at 110 degrees (slight
recline) to reduce back strain
c. Ensure your wrists are straight when using
the keyboard and mouse. Angling your wrists for
prolonged periods will create muscle strain.
d. Ensure that your feet are flat on the floor –
use a foot rest if required.
2. Smart Stretching
Computer operators who took frequent short
stretching breaks, known as micro-stretch breaks
(~60-90 seconds) every few hours, reported that
it was definitely effective in reducing
stiffness and muscle ache associated with long
hours at the keyboard, and reported having lower
stress levels. Taking stretching breaks were
also found to have increased their productivity
and enjoyment with working at their PC. 
Here are 2 stretching tips:
a. Chin Tuck Stretch:
Leaning forward and staring at a screen a
strains your neck muscles and can be a cause of
headaches. Tuck your chin into your neck and
feel the back of your neck stretching out. Hold
this stretch for 7 seconds and repeat twice.
b. Wrist Stretch:
Hold your right hand palm up (fully extend your
arm). Place your left hands fingers on top of
your right palm. Gently pull your right hand
back towards your body and hold for 7 seconds.
Repeat this stretch with your other arm.
The challenge is remembering to do the stretches
when you are busy. One solution, by
is to use ergonomic software program that
reminds you to take stretch breaks and guides
you through the process
3. Smart Activity
Take regular activity breaks throughout
As a business owner/manager, make activity part
of your work culture:
a. Rather than sitting in a lunch room, or at
your desk, get outside and walk
b. Have a coffee club, where people are invited
to come into work 30 minutes early to go for a
brief 10 minute walk and back to the local café
for a coffee.
c. Initiate a weekly in-house Pilates or yoga
d. Sponsor a your own triathlon group and
compete in an amateur event
Productivity is not something to ‘fix’ it
requires a cultural shift in thinking and work
 American Journal of Industrial Medicine
 Mathers C, Penn R. Health system costs of
injury, poisoning and musculo-skeletal disorders
in Australia 1993-94. Canberra: Australian
Institute of Health and Welfare, 1999. AIHW
Catalogue No. HWE 12 (Health and Welfare
Expenditure Series No. 6).