We already have deadlines and client expectations to meet and other tasks to accomplish. For this reason, the last thing we want and need is to work in an uncomfortable workspace.
After all, who wants to experience fatigue at the start and end of a workday?
Thus, one of the most common topics some employees, employers, work-from-home professionals, and business operators discuss is how to improve the design of workstations.
That is, of course, without the need for costly renovations.
One solution to this problem you’ll often hear is to invest in products with ergonomic features, such as an ergonomic keyboard.
But are ergonomic keyboards worth it? Or are they simply fads that don’t actually contribute anything?
Let’s find out!
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What Are the Advantages of Using an Ergonomic Keyboard?
The first thing to know when determining whether shifting from traditional keyboards to ergonomic-style keyboards is worth it is what you’ll gain from it.
With the long list of benefits of an ergonomic keyboard (or ergonomics in general), let’s sum them up into four categories.
Improved Overall Health and Well-Being
Like any product with ergonomic design features, the main benefit of using ergonomic keyboards is to keep your body in its natural position while typing.
They will help you achieve neutral wrist postures that can reduce or prevent hand, finger, and arm strain.
Models with built-in palm rests or those with detachable palm rests are even better at reducing and preventing muscle strain and pain.
With this extra feature, your forearms will rest above the keyboard, significantly reducing wrist discomfort and bending.
Therefore, you’ll have a lower risk of having injuries, such as repetitive stress injury and carpal tunnel syndrome.
The keyboard also prevents extremes of wrist extension while typing, so your shoulders stay relaxed.
Plus, the split in between the set of keys in these keyboards complements the sloping form to keep both your hands and shoulders relaxed.
As such, you’re also less prone to experiencing recurring shoulder pain and strain.
How about your mental, emotional, and social health?
Since you’re not dealing with physical pain or injury, you’ll have better focus and a happy persona.
Likewise, you’ll feel little to no anxiety or stress that’s often triggered or caused by physical pain.
All these effects will help you communicate better with co-workers, bosses, clients or customers, and even the general public.
Designed for Heavy Use
A day of typing multiple reports, proposals, letters, and other essential documents can be more stressful if your keyboard doesn’t seem to work with you.
Imagine doing that for a couple of weeks. Even the most skilled and fastest daily typists would want to quit.
What’s worst is being in this situation when you’re in customer service and need to reply to chats and emails immediately.
With the ergonomic keyboard options, from a split board to a thumb cluster keyboard, you will not only enjoy a highly responsive device.
You’ll also have faster typing speeds because of their non-typical but well-thought-off keyboard layout.
Unlike with standard keyboards, both hands are positioned comfortably to where they’re supposed to be, so you’ll spend less time accessing the keys.
Even those usually found in the middle part of regular keyboards are split into the left and right sections of the keyboard.
You’ll no longer need to overextend your thumbs just to press the space bar.
Your elbows and forearms also have the proper distance away from each other, ensuring maximum comfort.
Even programmers who spend an entire week or more to meet a project deadline in front of their computers will notice improved precision and dexterity.
That’s because the device is designed the way our body works.
Some of us go on business-related trips, while others are digital nomads, so the need to bring work equipment is out of the question.
Yes, you can always bring a wireless, smaller, normal keyboard.
However, it can compromise your comfort and health because you wouldn’t be able to achieve neutral wrist postures.
Ergonomic split keyboards will solve that problem since you can position each of the keyboard halves at a distance comfortable for you.
Not only that, but even if they come in two keyboard halves, they’re compact enough for easy packing, storing, and carrying.
Higher Employee Retention Rate
Although many factors affect employee retention rate, providing your employees or team members with equipment that will benefit them plays a significant role.
That’s because it shows that the employer, supervisor, or manager cares about their well-being and not just what they can contribute to the business.
In fact, the 2019 State of Workplace Empathy survey concluded that 93% of employees consider staying if they have an empathetic employer.
Likewise, Forbes states that 96% of employees work more effectively and efficiently if they have an employer who cares about their overall well-being.
What Are the Disadvantages of Ergonomic Keyboards?
To arrive at an objective conclusion about whether shifting to an ergo-friendly keyboard is worth it, let’s look at the other side of the spectrum.
That said, there are a few reasons some might not want to consider replacing their regular keyboards with any of the ergonomic keyboard options.
An Expensive Investment
You’ll definitely find cheaper keyboards with ergonomic designs, but they’re still a bit more expensive than traditional keyboards.
What makes them more expensive are the ergonomic features that might seem merely simple alterations to the eyes of a non-ergonomic expert.
That said, according to some ergonomic keyboard manufacturers, the cost of production is 25% to 50% more than what’s spent on producing traditional keyboards.
This higher cost is usually due to premium materials and complex design and layout templates.
They also run additional tests to ensure the entire keyboard is ergonomically designed.
Remember that a slight difference in the key’s position and angle can compromise its quality.
Slight to Difficult Learning Curve
Comfort might be the last thing that will come to mind when it’s your first time using ergonomic boards.
This will make you wonder and ask, “Are ergonomic keyboards worth it?” because this is contrary to the comfortable typing experience claims.
Generally designed with a staggered layout, you would need time to get used to the key layout.
After all, it’s almost entirely different from the normal keyboard layout you’ve been accustomed to for years.
It’s also why you should expect to commit several typos after a few attempts of typing with an ergonomic board.
The learning time can range from weeks to months, depending on the ergonomic keyboard type.
Those who opt for simpler and entry-level ergonomic keyboards can get used to using them after three to four days.
If you think this issue hinders you from shifting to an ergonomic keyboard, start with a model having minimal ergonomic upgrades.
As you get better at acclimating yourself to ergonomics, you can move on to units with higher ergonomic properties.
To review the types of ergonomic keyboards you can get, check out: “What Is an Ergonomic Keyboard: An Introduction to Its Features and Types”
Less Accessible Accessories
Although this disadvantage is mostly for those who build and modify their own keyboards, we took the liberty to include it.
If you’ve been doing this for a long time, you’ll find that building an ergonomic board is as easy as building regular boards.
The main challenge is looking for compatible keycap sets, especially since an ergonomic board has a split board.
That means even the spacebar is split. Plus, there are some keys in this type of board that you won’t find on regular boards.
Not all computer parts retailers offer these items, so expect that they’re costly.
You might even need to order them from the manufacturer or authorized dealers.
Are Ergonomic Keyboards Worth It: The Verdict
This type of keyboard makes a world of difference for professionals, business travelers, and digital nomads.
It is an excellent tool for office workers who spend most of their workday using the computer.
Therefore, the extra investment you make on ergo keyboards is worth it since you’ll spend every workday more efficiently and productively.
However, we can’t have the same conclusion for those who are often away from a keyboard and seldom use a computer.
It would be up to you whether shifting to an ergonomic board is worth it. Evaluate your current situation and decide based on the pros and cons above.
When it’s time to buy one, make sure you choose the right ergonomic keyboard design that will work for your projects and other needs.
You can even find units designed for specific cases, such as the best ergonomic keyboard for carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.
- Stanford Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford Health Care, Lucile Packard Foundation
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