Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. You’re probably thinking to yourself that a chair isn’t exactly a marvel of technology, aren’t you? Surely a chair is just a place to park your bum? Well, if that’s all the chair really is, I really would be wasting my time and yours by including it here. However, there is much more to chair design than meets the eye, or the cheek.
Ergo, we’ll now take a look at ergonomics.
Ergonomics is a scientific discipline. Its main concern is to improve your productivity safety, comfort, and health. As an online English teacher you will be interacting with technology, and the more comfortably, safely, and healthily you can interact with the technology, the more effective will you be. It is the job of ergonomics and this chapter to help you create an environment in which to work that best suits you as an individual.
For all I know you are left-handed, are colour-blind, have a visual impairment, a bad back or are morbidly obese, suffering from diabetes, or have any number of other medical conditions. While none of these may have any real impact on your ability to teach online, you need to know, when setting up your working environment, how to prevent any existing conditions from worsening to the point where it is difficult or impossible for you to carry out your teaching online.
You may of course be a perfect specimen of humanity and have no physical defects, mental issues, or illnesses. The aim of this chapter is to make sure that you remain this way.
I weigh 94 kilograms and I’m slightly too short for my weight. I’m slightly deaf in my right ear and I tend to sweat when sitting for a long time in the high temperatures that we have here in Seville. I’m allergic to quite a few things including pollen, dust, and too much beer.
I’m getting older, and will soon reach the point where the focal capacity of my eyes exceeds the length of my arm. At this point I will have to wear glasses when reading. If I’m honest, I’m actually wearing them as I write this.
As I just mentioned, I also work in a city where the summer temperatures rarely fall below 40°C and anything more strenuous than gasping for air requires the immediate replacement of body fluids in the form of water or beer. The workstation from which I run my online teaching business has been created to take into account all of these facts about me and my life.
The chances are you are not the same height and weight as me, probably get full value for money from both speakers on your stereo system, and probably live somewhere where your body temperature exceeds the temperature of the air around you. What I’m trying to say is that you are as unique as I am, and your workstation needs to reflect your uniqueness.
Your grandmother sits in a high-backed, firm-bottomed chair for the same reason fighter pilots don’t sit in canvas backed deckchairs while collaterally damaging people who would much rather be studying English online.
By choosing the right furniture for the person and the job at hand, you, the ergonomically savvy teacher, will greatly reduce the chance of future pain and injury, illness and stress. You’ll increase your productivity, improve your morale, and decrease complaints from various parts of your anatomy.
The right furniture for you will help you eliminate awkward posture, repetitive motion, inadequate clearance for your svelte frame, excessive reach, eyestrain, and even pressure sores. What you need to be working for is a human-centred design for your workstation.