Open Thread: A Comfortable and Pain-Free Office…

a comfortable and pain free office

2018 Update: We still think this is a fascinating discussion of how to have a comfortable and pain-free office — but you may want to check out our more recent discussion on how to get better ergonomics at the office.

Here’s something we’re curious about:  How many of you have picked out your own desk chairs, keyboard drawers, and so forth in an effort to make your office more ergonomic and comfortable? Which brands have you found to be the best?

We’ve read a million articles about how — without the right set-up — your office could be causing you back pain, headaches, eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more. In terms of eye strain, we’ve noticed a huge difference in a flat-screen monitor versus one of the old CRT monitors.  We also prefer a keyboard tray versus having our keyboard sitting on top of our desk.  Otherwise, we are far from experts on the subjects, so thought we would turn to you guys.  Does anyone swear by the Aeron chair?  Did changing the “refresh rate” for your monitor change your life?  Do tell — what are your best tips for a comfortable and pain-free office?

(Pictured:  Ergonomics matters, originally uploaded to Flickr by Ezu.)

Further reading:
Office Ergonomics, WebMD

How to Ease Back and Neck Pain at the Office, eHow

Office Staples: Toiletry Edition

As hundreds of new lawyers, MBAs, and other professionals head to work for the start of their jobs, we thought we’d round up some supplies that everyone needs in their office.  In future editions we’ll tackle office supplies and gadgetry, but for now, here’s what you should pick up on your next trip to

pharmacy drugstore finds to stock your office with

1.  New-Skin. Yes, it’s an electronic world, but there are still far more papers to deal with than you’d think — which means papercuts abound — which means every open wound increases your chances of getting sick.  Our preferred method of dealing with papercuts is to apply a liquid bandage like New-Skin.  It dries quickly, stays on all day, even after you’ve washed your hands, and it doesn’t leave that gummy residue on your nails and fingers.  We recommend New-Skin Antiseptic Liquid Bandage, available at (as is everything listed in this article) for $6.19.

2. Purell.  This is another great way to ward off colds — and it’s particularly helpful to keep at your desk if you commute to work via public transportation (you can clean your hands the minute you get to the office), or if you shake hands with a lot of people during the course of your job.  If you get one with aloe, it won’t dry your hands out as much.  Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer with Aloe, Moisturizers & Vitamin E, available at for $3.51.

3.  Thermometer.  The higher up the food chain you go, the more you’ll find that a little head cold is not an acceptable reason to stay away from the office if work needs to be done in it.  That said, it’s generally poor form to come to work (or stay at work) if you’re contagious.  Obviously you’ve got a thermometer at home to know when you’re running a fever — but it can be helpful to have one at the office for those occasional stretches where you’re practically living at the office, or where you suddenly feel lousy in the middle of the afternoon.  We’ve always done well with a digital one, like the Vicks Comfort-Flex Thermometer, available at for $12.99.

4.  Preservative-free eye drops. Long hours of staring at the computer = dry eyes.  For some women this is a particular problem.  Our suggestion:  invest in preservative-free drops.  If you use the drops only occasionally, then you’ll be happy to open up a new vial of eye drops.  If you use them frequently, you’ll be glad you’re not overloading your eyes with preservatives.  We recommend TheraTears Lubricant Eye Drops, Single-Use Containers, available at for $12.79.

5.  Visine, Clearasil, and cover-up. Yes, we’re recommending you get both Visine and preservative-free eye drops.  This is because several eye doctors have warned us against frequent use of Visine — something to do with the preservatives and the chemicals that take away the redness.  But, that said, Visine can be great for those embarrassing times when you’ve got a zit or some other red spot on your face — use a Q-tip (or wrap a tissue around a pencil eraser), soak the cotton with the Visine, and dab it on your red spot.  Visine — it gets the red out.  We also recommend keeping Clearasil and cover-up on hand. Visine Advanced Redness Reliever Eye Drops, available at for $7.29.

6.  Floss. You probably won’t use this one a lot, but you’ll thank us for that rare time when you do use it — like when you’ve got something in your teeth and have to run to a partner’s or executive’s office.  We recommend Glide Dental Floss, Comfort Plus, Mint, available at for $3.99.

7.  Eye-makeup remover.  There are a lot of reasons for keeping eye-makeup remover with you in the office.  We most commonly use it on those those nights when we’re stuck in the office in front of the computer — maybe it’s just us, but our eyes feel tired, and our mascara just feels gross and heavy after sixteen-plus hours of wear.  Another big reason for having eye-makeup remover:  occasionally, emotions may screw up your eye-makeup.  Whether you’re crying for joy, sorrow, or frustration or anger (and hopefully you’re doing this behind closed doors), your eye makeup may need to be redone entirely in order to “save face” when you stick your head out of your office.  We’re fans of Nivea Visage Eye Make Up Remover, available at for $5.99.

8.  Advil. Just give in to the idea that you’ll likely be at the office when you get a lot of headaches/cramps/aches, and invest in an economy-size bottle.

9.  Tampons and/or pads.

10.  Basic make-up (if you don’t already carry it in your purse).  On the rare day that you can get to the gym, or when you walk to work, or when you need to re-do your makeup, you’ll be set.

Are we forgetting anything else?  Please fill us in, in comments…

Weekly Round-Up: If you wear it to play, don’t wear it to work

pink polish for work– The Girls in the Beauty Department round up the best pink nail polishes. [Glamour] We totally want the one The Daily Obsession recommended, though (pictured). (Available at Nordstrom.)

– Eeek! How did we miss this? “Clothing” arguments for a new legal dress code. We luuuurve the rule that “if you wear it to play, don’t wear it to work.” [ForbesLife Executive Woman] Oh, and speaking of lady lawyers, the Observer, well, observes that the Litigatrix has eaten Ally McBeal for breakfast. [NY Observer]

– Oooh, ten bags under $1000. [BagSnob]

– On the off chance you’re working in Second Life, Counterfeit Chic has some fashion advice for your avatar. [Counterfeit Chic]

– Long days in front of computers make our necks hurt. But hey — at least we have some government-approved exercises to feel better. [MedicineNet]

– Here’s an interesting site: They focus on Top 15 lists. One we like: Top 15 Podium Tactics From Public Speaking Pros.” [Top 15s]

work fashion blog press mentions