From the corner office to the mailroom, ergonomics has plenty to offer just about everybody in the workspace. But every job is different, requiring a unique set of movements and behaviors. That’s why this month we’re focusing on four different job titles to examine role-specific strategies for preventing the development of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) that cost companies money and prevent employees from reaching their maximum potential.

First up: calling all accountants, bookkeepers and any employees who do data entry. From the intensity of tax season to everyday stressors, number crunchers put an excess amount of strain on their wrists, joints, upper backs and necks as they pound away at the keyboard all day long. This is all the worst when there’s a deadline on the horizon. Especially when having accurate budgets and data is all the more pressing. What to do?

1. Set Up a Comfortable Workspace

First and foremost, some basic workspace ergonomics are in order. As for anyone who works at a desk all day long, you should set your chair at such a height that your feet fall flat onto the ground while still keeping your knees at a natural right angle. (Alternatively, try standing for the majority of the day). If the chair doesn’t have lumbar support, add some by placing a pillow behind your back. Likewise, your desk should be at such a height that you can float your hands naturally over your keyboard, while still allowing plenty of room for your knees and legs to navigate below. Your computer screen should be about an arm’s length away. The top of the screen should be slightly below eye level so that your neck remains in a neutral position.

2. Add the Right Peripherals

Once your desktop is set up to ensure ergonomic well-being, it’s time to add a few peripherals and accessories to further power your calculations. For this a [numeric keypad] that’s separate from your everyday keyboard is really key. An external keypad will better space the number keys for faster and easier data entry that keeps all of the most important keys within easy reach. And because you can move it all around your desktop, you can find a position that’s most comfortable for you.

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A wrist rest can also be a great add. It will provide respite for your wrists throughout hours of intense use. Together, these two additions to your desktop will provide all of the support you need throughout the day and into any long overtime hours.

3. Do a Little Desktop Yoga

employee stretching hands overhead at desk

No matter how well your desktop is set up, it’s still important to take regular breaks throughout the day to get the blood flowing and prevent muscles from straining with overuse. This can be easily accomplished in a number of ways, from simple at-the-desk stretching to incorporating movement creatively into your daily routine. Whether that means setting a timer to remind you to reach to the ceiling every 45 minutes, holding walking meetings or sneaking out to the gym on your lunch break, movement will shake up your metabolism, jump start your brain and get your refreshed for those hours of data entry still left in the day.

4. Have a Game Plan for Tax Season

No matter how much you beg and plead with your coworkers to send in their business receipts before March 31st, January through April is always a hectic time, requiring late nights and an endless stream of data entry. When you know high pressure periods like tax season are on the horizon, it’s important to get an ergonomic game plan set so you’ve got all of your support strategies ready to go when they’re most needed.

Start by gathering an internal support team, perhaps breaking the accounting department into “ergonomic buddies” to check in with each other weekly about how things are going. Then, brainstorm prevention strategies, like incorporating even more stretching and movement into the daily routine, and building in time for longer recovery breaks post-season. Reevaluate all workspaces, ensuring you’ve got all of the equipment set up in just the right way.

And, most importantly, make sure you’ve got fun rewards ready to go once those big deadlines have passed. You’ve earned it!

The Takeaway

Accountants, bookkeepers, and anyone who does data entry all put a lot of strain on their bodies both in daily use and during high pressure seasons. Being ready with a plan of ergonomic action will go a long way towards preventing injuries before they ever develop. Not to mention, mitigating pain when they do. How will you help your number crunchers embrace ergonomics? Let us know in the blog comments.

Did you enjoy this article? Check back next week for ergonomic tips that are just right for your telecommuting workforce.