I\’m on the ergonomic bandwagon finally. It\’s something I\’ve cared about for a while, but have never invested money in before. I still have some distance to cover, but I can definitely feel a marked improvement in my setup.
First I got myself an real ergonomic keyboard … not like the continuously less-ergonomic MS Natural where every version seems to bring it closer to being a funny-looking standard keyboard. I got me a Kinesis Advantage. One unexpected benefit of it is that it\’s made me a better touch-typist on standard keyboards as well.
The next step was an Aeron Chair. [Ed: this is the last I had saved before my apartment\'s horrible electrical system thwarted me. I\'ll try to rewrite the rest.] I got the supercalifragilistic new PostureFit System. I think it\’s a big improvement over the lumbar support. Lumbars always seemed to be chastising me for not having good posture; jabbing me in the back whenever I tried to sit properly. PostureFit actually encourages me to improve my posture, which I\’ve never felt before … even with those big exercise balls that were quite popular for a while.
People seem confused when I tell them I got this stuff for home instead of for the office. Mostly, they seem to think that I spend more time in my chair at work. They\’re definitely wrong. For one thing, I frequently spend time at work in other chairs or walking around, or just anywhere but at my desk. At home, well, my home\’s not very big. And without distractions, I can do a five-hour stint without standing up. Between the Macs, the Lisp, and the Techno, I spend a lot of time in this chair.
Also, I feel that my work environment is the responsibility of my employer. If I feel that it\’s not adequate, I can bring it up to my manager, and I expect that the problem will be taken care of (Note: it helps if you work somewhere that you\’re considered valuable — and why work anywhere else?). An idea that Joel Spolsky steals from Philip Greenspun is this:
Your business success will depend on the extent to which programmers essentially live at your office. For this to be a common choice, your office had better be nicer than the average programmer\’s home. There are two ways to achieve this result. One is to hire programmers who live in extremely shabby apartments. The other is to create a nice office.
As my apartment gets nicer, the work environment I can expect should improve. Maybe it doesn\’t quite work that way, but it at least encourages my employer to either
- provide an environment on par with my home environment or
- give me the flexibility to work from home on a fairly regular basis.
Which of these is chosen depends on other factors as well, such as pair programming and regularity of meetings, but your employer should understand how much a good environment can improve your productivity — and thus, their profit.