For many people working-from-home is a new experience altogether. For others it might not be new, but the extent of it during coronavirus and lock-down surely is. We have written articles with general advice but here we would like to focus on a particular challenge: ergonomics. Most of us do not have dedicated offices at home and so our work-space is a bit of a compromise. It may not be possible to create the perfect work-space ergonomically, but there are some general tips that may help you…
- Desk and chair. Do not try the couch or the bed as a work-space. You really need a hard surface (your “desk” even if it is a dining-room table or a kitchen counter at other times) and a firm upright chair. Of course you could try a “standing-desk” but that is another topic so let’s stick with the more typical sit-down desk here.
- Sit up straight. This is the oldest, simplest, and most important advice. Do not slouch. Keep your back straight.
- Eyes level. You should try to get your screen at or just-below eye-level. Most experts suggest that the top of the screen should be at eye level. You can do this with a separate monitor ideally, or by raising your laptop (may need a separate keyboard or a fancy laptop stand).
- Use a mouse. You’ll work faster and with less risk of repetitive strain injuries if you use a proper mouse and not your laptop’s touch-pad or pointer-device.
- 90 degrees. Your elbows and knees should rest comfortably at about 90 degrees or so.
- Don’t dangle. You must rest your feet on the floor to avoid circulation problems and pain. If you cannot do so naturally (perhaps you have short legs or a high chair), try a small foot-stool or a box or a book or whatever works so your feet don’t hang in the air.
- Try some support. You might find that a cushion or rolled-up-towel helps to support your lower back, or raise your seat-height a bit, so by all means experiment a bit. You may need this sort of creative approach to get close to the recommended position shown here.
- Move. Nobody should sit stationary for more than 20-30 minutes or so. Try to develop the habit of getting up regularly (we recommend every 20 minutes or so). A quick lap of the room and a stretch or two and you can get back to it, refreshed, loosened-up, and ready to crack on!
- Look away. This is a bit like the “move” advice above. You can develop eye-strain if you look at the screen for too long. So it is a good idea to look away for a few seconds every few minutes. Just looking across the room or out the window, for a few seconds every 10 minutes or so, can really help.
So there are some ideas around working from home with good ergonomics. It is worth mentioning that you probably won’t be able to achieve the perfect set-up. In truth your office set-up is probably not perfect either, is it? Just do what you can but be prepared to accept some compromises. Please add your own ideas and comments below and let’s see if we can learn from each other, even as we’re physically far from each other.