Workplace Checklist

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Introduction: Workplace Checklist

About: Openproducts' focus is on design of new products and on innovative approaches towards improving existing products. An example: the CountClock, a concept facilitating children to learn telling the time. Purpose…

In make-shift home offices, chances are high that workplaces do not meet ergonomic standards. The result is that people are often sitting in a sub-optimal way in front of their monitor, which on a long term may result in related symptoms: tension, strain, stress and a bended posture to name a few. The starting point of a good office working position is to be aware of some basic principles on office ergonomics.

The Workplace Checklist was designed to remind office workers to the basics of office ergonomics. In this Instructable an open source variant is published, which is applicable in both home offices as in regular offices that need to comply with health and safety regulations. The idea is to stick the printed Workplace Checklist on to desks or to use the image as a desktop background.

Three take-aways from this Workplace Checklist Instructable:

  • Adjusting workplaces to individual (home) office workers is worth the effort and might pay-off on the long term in terms of reduced physical stress;
  • Working ergonomically on a laptop it is virtually impossible: the keyboard and the screen are physically connected and thus simply too close to each other. A quick fix is to put the laptop screen at eye level (a pile of books will do) and to connect a separate keyboard and mouse;
  • If you are working on a non-adjustable desk it is often still possible to get closer to the optimal configuration by only adjusting the chair height and the monitor level, possibly in combination with a footrest.

The Workplace Checklist is a joint development with the ergonomic consultancy company ErGo-knowhow in the Netherlands and the instructions have been carefully checked against the most recent ergonomic know-how as it is currently available in Europe. Note however that ergonomic insights may differ across the continents and even between countries or regions. This Workplace Checklist is a good starting point for further regionally adapting and fine-tuning the design: comments and feedback are welcomed.

This Workplace Checklist was first published on 4 May 2020 at Instructables and submitted to the Work From Home Speed Challenge. The Workplace Checklist source file is available in Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) and it has been commented consistently, which results in a human-readable SVG code.

Feel free to print the Workplace Checklist Sticker for your own use or to give it away. But please ensure that the license type and author are still visible, which regards particularly this sentence:

"Workplace Checklist" (www.workplacechecklist.cc)
by openproducts.org (2020) is licensed under a

Creative Commons license: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Full license: www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0

The Workplace Checklist is useful for all people currently working from home at a computer. By making the design available under a Creative Commons license we hope to reach as many home office workers as we can. In order to widen our audience we intend to make the Workplace Checklist available in multiple languages (currently English, French and German).

The next step elaborates on the ergonomic background of the office Workplace Checklist.

Step 1: Ergonomic Background of the Workplace Checklist

In order to be concise the Workplace Checklist has an explanation in telegram style; in this Instructable step some more words are dedicated to setting up your (home) office workplace ergonomically by providing a little more directions.

To begin, the five steps in the checklist need to be addressed one after the other: first adjust the chair (start with the seat, then the backrest followed by the armrests), then the desk and finally level the monitor or laptop. These are the five steps:

1: Chair Seat
Adjust the seat in such a way that you can put your feet flat on the floor. The angle under your knees needs to be at least 90 degrees to avoid pinching. When wearing high-heeled shoes you might consider a footrest to be able to keep your feet flat.

2: Backrest
The backrest may be inclined slightly backward but it preferably (and if possible from its geometry) needs to touch your back from the lumbar region to its top. If your chair is not adjustable then try a different chair to find the one that fits best to your body, and possibly use a thin pillow to support your back.

3. Armrests
Level the armrests at elbow height and fit them close to your torso, with your upper arms straight down and not sloping towards the front. Remember here to relax your shoulders and let them hang out freely. If your chair doesn't have armrests then simply skip this step.

4. Desk
Level the height of your desk slightly under the top of the armrests, say 1 or 2 cm (approximately half an inch) below. Doing so, the armrests approximately are at the same height as the keyboard. If your chair doesn't have armrests then adjust the desk in such a way that the desktop is 1 or 2 cm below your elbows. Keep the keyboard flat (do not use its foldaway feet) and nearby, just like the mouse. If you are working on a non-adjustable desk (at home for example) it is often still possible to get closer to the optimal configuration by only adjusting the chair height (and adding perhaps a footrest) and the monitor level.

5. Monitor or laptop
As indicated in the Workplace Checklist, the monitor may be place at an ‘arm’s length’. This measure differs of course among people, so can we be more precise? The distance between your eyes and the monitor may be larger than you might expect: 70 to 80 cm (say 30 inch) away. This measure is tuned to modern large monitors, which allows to display larger fonts and figures. Smaller monitors (think a laptop) may be put at a closer distance, for example 40 to 50 cm (say 18 inch). The further away your monitor is, the less effort your eyes need for focusing, so be aware and benefit from this advantage and increase the monitor font size to prevent yourself from leaning forward. Place the monitor (or laptop screen) so high that the top line of your work (text, spreadsheet, drawing etc.) meets your eye level. In this way you're mainly looking forward and your neck is not bowed but straight. Knowing this, it becomes clear that working ergonomically on a laptop is virtually impossible: the keyboard and the screen are connected and thus simply too close to each other. A quick fix is to put the top of the laptop screen at eye level (using the poor man’s approach for example: simply put it on a cardboard box or a pile of books) and to connect a separate keyboard and mouse.

As mentioned above already, keep the mouse and your keyboard nearby and relax your shoulders. Also, invest in getting familiar with keyboard shortcuts. Namely, shortkeys are double efficient: they allow working faster and at the same time reduce physical stress. Moreover, it is advisable not to remain all day in the same position. Keep moving as much as possible: stand up every hour, take a walk during your break or (for all home workers) do the dishes.

In the next step you'll find the Workplace Checklist in multiple language versions, including the SVG sources. Currently there are a few linguistic differences between these variants but the main checklist points are all the same.

Step 2: Workplace Checklist in English

Here the Workplace Checklist is presented in English as a PNG image (200 dpi, click to enlarge) and in SVG (download link below). For editing the SVG source code either use hand-coding in a text editor or source code editor (and view the result in a webbrowser) or use an SVG editor like the open source Inkscape (www.inkscape.org).

See Step 1 in this Instructable for more ergonomic background of the office Workplace Checklist and the last Step (scroll down) for information on the Creative Commons license and how you may support this open source project.

Step 3: Workplace Checklist in French

Here the Workplace Checklist is presented in French as a PNG image (click to enlarge) and in SVG (download link below).

See Step 1 in this Instructable for more ergonomic background of the office Workplace Checklist and the last Step (scroll down) for information on the Creative Commons license and how you may support this open source project.

Step 4: Workplace Checklist in German

Here the Workplace Checklist is presented in German as a PNG image (click to enlarge) and in SVG (download link below).

See Step 1 in this Instructable for more ergonomic background of the office Workplace Checklist and the last Step (scroll down) for information on the Creative Commons license and how you may support this open source project.

Step 5: Making of the Workplace Checklist

The Workplace Checklist has been designed as a warning traffic sign. Important elements in the image have been highlighted in color: seat, backrest, armrests, desk and monitor.

The image above shows all intermediate designs, and in the lower-right corner the final design.

The open source office Workplace Checklist was created to a large extent by hand-coding Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). The first version consisted of simple SVG elements (only lines and ellipses) but this approach couldn’t fully cover all specifics of the ergonomic workplace. In later versions, the body of the office worker consists of overlapping shapes that were merged to reduce the number of datapoints.

A sticker previously designed by openproducts (the Grease Fire Sticker) could tell a complicated story without clarification in words, which made the sticker multi-lingual in itself. The storyline of the Workplace Sticker appeared to be more illustrative with support in wording; reaching a worldwide audience thus requires translations of the Checklist.

The first versions of the office Workplace Checklist indicated the different steps using numbering and auxiliary lines, but this approach finally was abandoned for aesthetic reasons (and few additional value).

In the last version an important change was made: the traffic warning sign offered not enough space for the office worker and also people asked why the poor person is working in a tent. These issues were solved by changing to the international STOP sign.

Step 6: Want to Benefit, Support or Contribute?

The Workplace Checklist is an open source project by openproducts.org. A Creative Commons license was opted for in order to reach a wide audience and to improve many lives in home offices.

If you appreciate this project and would like to support or contribute, you’ll find some suggestions here:

  • Use the Workplace Checklist for your own or in the company where you work. To do this, print the sticker and stick it on your desk or table. Alternatively, use the Workplace Checklist as a desktop image.
  • If you feel that your preferred language is missing in the listing above, consider translating the main text of the Workplace Checklist and send it via a Personal Message to openproducts. If you like, a link to your Instructables page will be mentioned as a credit.
  • If you like the Workplace Checklist but do not appreciate the Creative Commons statement, consider ordering image versions without that license statement. More info via a Personal Message to openproducts.
  • If you like the Workplace Checklist but instead of the Creative Commons statement you’d like to see your own name or logo, consider ordering a tailored version. More info via a Personal Message to openproducts.
  • Printed stickers are available through the webshop at www.workplacechecklist.com. Order your stickers there (with Creative Commons disclaimer or a with a redesigned sticker featuring your company logo).

Feel free to print the Workplace Checklist Sticker for your own use or to give it away. Please ensure that the license type and author are still visible, which regards particularly this sentence:

"Workplace Checklist" (www.workplacechecklist.cc)
by openproducts.org (2020) is licensed under a
Creative Commons license: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Full license: www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0

That’s it… Thanks for reading until the end of this Instructable. Feel free to leave comments or questions or to post pictures of your improved home or office workplace.

Take care!

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    Comments

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    jessyratfink
    jessyratfink

    1 year ago

    This is awesome! Thanks for putting these together :)