Working from home has its perks. No daily commute. The flexibility to work wherever you want. No strict dress code. It is wonderful, but it is not without its challenges.
One of the biggest challenges is to set up a comfortable and safe workspace ergonomics at home. As home workspaces are not as well equipped as offices, common symptoms of ergonomics issues at home such as back pain, shoulder sore, wrist pain, stiff neck, headaches, etc. may appear after long hours of work.
A great workspace should be designed to fit its owner like a glove. Every frequently-used item should be placed within reach. The person should be able to sit on a chair comfortably for long hours. Everything in the workspace should be arranged to create comfort and maintain safety for the employee.
How to ensure an S-curve spine posture throughout working?
The first step is to maintain a good sitting or standing posture. Regardless of sitting or standing, the rule of thumb is to sit or stand upright, a straight line is formed from one shoulder to the other, and both feet are flat on the ground.
The second step is to get a chair that supports the position. An adjustable chair that allows customized height, armrest, headrest, back support, and ability to swivel can contribute to a long-lasting healthy spine.
Well, what if an adjustable chair is not available?
Don’t worry; there are multiple hacks you can use:
Work on a proper desk and chair as much as possible. Avoid working long hours on the floor, couch, bed, or kitchen table.
Sit or stand upright.
Take 5 to 7-minute breaks every hour.
Roll up a towel and place it behind the lower back, where the spine curves in. (This may require some trial and error to find the sweet spot).
Add a seat cushion for extra comfort.
#2. Adjust The Desk
A desk’s height matters for remote work ergonomics.
When working at a desk, the legs should be placed comfortably below the desk. Arms should be positioned like an L-shape when typing.
If it’s impossible to get a suitable table, use an adjustable chair to change the body’s height, or place stacks of cushions to sit on top.
#3. Get A Monitor
The standard piece of equipment for those who work from home is the laptop. It is a convenient solution to get work done; however, it has some risks to a person’s well-being.
Let us explain why.
A laptop typically has a smaller screen which can cause more eye strain compared to monitors. The keyboards are often compact, causing neck and wrist injuries. The screen and keyboard are close to each other and can cause bad posture with either arms held high or the neck and back bent low.
Getting a monitor can help keep the posture upright and protect the wrists, arms, shoulders, and spine from injuries.
Here’s a checklist of setting up an ergonomic-friendly monitor:
Place the monitor in a position that eliminates glare on the screen. Reflected glare can cause eye strain and sometimes causes you to lean forward to read the screen.
Place the monitor away from bright lights. Bright lights directly behind your screen can cause eye strain.
Place the main monitor in front of you. This prevents twisting your head and neck. If you have more than one monitor, place the secondary monitors beside the primary monitor.
Level the top of the screen at or slightly below the eye-line. If the monitor’s height is fixed, place it above a box, or a stack of hardcover books.
Position the monitor about an arm’s length away.
#4. Use Ergonomic Keyboard And Mouse
The keyboard and mouse could make a big difference if your work involves a lot of typing and clicking.
An ergonomic keyboard allows the hands and arms to rest in a natural position, without forcing your fingers to stretch at awkward angles to reach keys repeatedly.
How to identify whether the keyboard feels natural to you?
Sit upright and stretch your hands out to the front, parallel to each other and as wide as your shoulders. Bend your arms to form an L-shape. Put the hands slightly in front as if you’re typing. The place your hands land is the natural typing position. Look for keyboards that fit this position.
What about the mouse?
An ergonomic mouse helps the hand to assume a more natural position, something like a handshake. This prevents the wrist from being pressed on the hard surface for long hours, thus reducing wrist injuries.
#5 Be Mindful Of Posture
The success factor of achieving remote work ergonomics is you.
One effective way to make mindfulness a habit is to set the alarm once every hour for you to check-in with your body.
Is there any part of your body that feels slightly uncomfortable or painful?
What is the body posture you are assuming right now? Does it feel natural to you? What adjustments do you need?
You can also make use of the alarm to introduce some light stretches. For example, make a big circle with your nose, or roll your shoulders and wrists.
Remote work ergonomics is a long-term investment. Getting ergonomic equipment may cost a few extra dollars now but they help prevent physical injuries in the future. They could even save you thousands of medical bills instead.
The crucial elements that need to be paid attention to are the posture, desk, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and most importantly, being mindful of your own body.
When it comes to ergonomics at home, the rule of thumb is to be in a natural position with little to zero small repetitive movements.
If we look at a bigger picture, setting up ergonomics at home is only a part of the strategy to support well-being at work.
Working comfortably for long hours is important, but it is also equally important that we are healthy, mentally and emotionally.