We’ll look at how technology can help you – and we’ll also cover your employer’s responsibilities, too.
First up, here are five products that promise to make your life better as a designer…
The Griffin costs around £27
If you’re a laptop user we’d strongly advise a stand when you’re in the office: it raises the screen to a level that won’t leave you with a sore neck and has the happy side-effect of keeping your hardware cool too.
Still trying to justify splashing out on Apple’s wearable? It can nag you to get up every hour, tracks the steps you take and stairs you climb, and can help you set, monitor and achieve your fitness targets. Plus, it looks nice.
Expect to pay around $599 for a Rebel desk
If you’re convinced that a standing desk is a good idea but still like to sit from time to time, the adjustable Rebel Desk range supports a range of configurations including dual monitor setups and can be set as high or as low as you like. Expect to pay around $599.
If you’re not in the US, IKEA has also joined the standing desk bandwagon. Its Bekant range raises from 65–125cm at the touch of a button. The range starts at £445, rising to £495 for corner desks.
Logitech’s MX mice are well known for their exceptionally comfortable shape and superb scroll wheels. They aren’t cheap – at the time of writing some shops want £75-plus – but if you shop around you can find some for around £40.
Check eBay for cheaper versions of the Herman Miller Mirra chair
We’ve been using one of these for more than a decade and thoroughly recommend it. It’s a cheaper but no less comfortable chair from the makers of the Aeron, and while it’s pricey at around £670 you’ll find used and refurbished ones on eBay for less than half of that.
Legal rights in the workplace
Of course, staying healthy in the workplace isn’t just up to you: it’s also your employer’s responsibly to ensure that workplaces are safe.
In low-risk workplaces like design studios and agencies that’s largely open to interpretation, but the Health and Safety Executive says that the employer must provide good ventilation, a reasonable working temperature, suitable lighting for the work being carried out and ‘suitable workstations and seating’.
There are specific regulations about the use of computers and tablets under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992. Your employer must assess all workstations to ensure they meet the legal requirements, plan work so there are breaks or changes of activity, and provide eye testing and corrective glasses if necessary.
Illustration: Becca Allen for Computer Arts magazine
Stress is a bit more complicated. While one in five UK workers has suffered workplace stress, there isn’t a specific law to address that. It’s covered under the basic health and safety duties where employers need to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees.
If you’re suffering, you have the right to request flexible working (although the employer can refuse) and to invoke the company’s grievance process.
But legally you can’t claim against an employer unless you can demonstrate that workplace stress is solely responsible for a serious condition such as depression, that the stress was due to your employer’s negligence and that you made your employer aware of your worsening condition.