Many years ago, a fiesty, ambitious Armenian girl began a fun marketing job with bright eyes and a bushy tail. Yes, an actual bushy tail - she hadn’t discovered straightening irons yet.
Ok, writing in third person is creepy, y'all. Please allow me to try again.
Hi, I'm Marina! Many years ago, I started a career I loved so much, that I spent 8 hours a day, glued to my shitty corporate computer, writing press pitches and hand-coding HTML emails (yes, it was that long ago). I got really good at pretending I was taking my state-mandated 15-minute breaks so that my boss wouldn’t get in trouble.
One year later, I came down with a debilitating case of tendonitis on the way to Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. I couldn't do basic life tasks like turn doorknobs or hold up a hairbrush, much less continue working at with current pace and habits. And, for someone whose entire career was based around a computer, that basically meant I might as well be dead.
Luckily, I had a very sweet and caring HR lady who forced/encouraged me to get physical therapy, hoisted my monitor to the correct height, and got me some fancy footrests and squishy keyboard accessories. It was as much an eye-opener for her as it was for me.
Then two years later, the pain came back with a vengeance so I went back into physical therapy. One doctor actually said that my injury was so bad, I could be forced to quit working entirely and spend the rest of my life on disability leave (no thank you, please!). Retiring in my mid-20s was not something I had planned when I ambitiously mapped out my career. I went into a year of treatment and made even more drastic changes to my workstation and habits.
A few years passed and I found myself eagerly starting my own full-time business. But working for myself, with no health advocate buying me footrests and forcing me to take breaks, I felt those familiar pains creeping back in my neck and arms.
After renting an office of my own and building workstations for myself and my team from scratch, I realized just how little the entrepreneur, freelancer, and work-from-home communities really know about ergonomics.
As it becomes increasingly clear that our computer habits and postures are literally killing us, this information is more essential than ever before. But all we really have? Are the bi-monthly articles on business websites quoting some doctor/CEO/random person who pompously states “sitting is the new smoking...” as if he's the first person who has thought to describe it that way.
There are NO good actionable resources out there that cater to the habits and lifestyles of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and basically anybody who works in an unconventional setting (and yes, this includes telecommuting and co-working spaces!).
My guess as to why: probably because the topic of ergonomics is boring AF. And most of the research and helpful tips are not useful because they are geared towards corporate offices and still use words like “computing.”
So – since I know way more than any regular person should about the wonders of workplace injuries - and since I am a practitioner of human-centered design - it is my mission to bridge this knowledge gap!
I even made this the topic of my thesis project for my Master's of Science in Global Strategic Design Management from Parsons Paris School of Design.
Please note that I am certainly not pretending to be a medical practitioner - everything I post here is fully-researched and includes information directly from licensed medical practitioners or sourced publications. But I did actually take that government-mandated Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) certification course on ergonomic design for workplaces. (Side note: if you ever need your workstation - or forklift - evaluated for safety, I’m your gal!)
These posts will each take you no more than five minutes to read. Because if I kept you staring at the screen longer than that… then what the hell kind of example am I setting? Full disclosure: I may even encourage you to stretch as you read.
I will even review products and services in the ergonomics space (if you work with a company in this space, please do reach out if you want me to test any of your offerings!).