Ergonomics while working from home
While working from home has its benefits, it can also bring many challenges. A common challenge is proper ergonomics. Ergonomics refers to properly fitting equipment design (think desk chair and desk height) to maximize productivity by reducing fatigue and discomfort. If you work an office job, you likely have a monitor to accompany your laptop, a proper desk and chair; which are all adjusted to fit your body structure.
At home you may be moving from your couch to the kitchen table and back again, all while gazing down at your small laptop screen. When sitting for much of the day hunched over a computer screen it is important that you take care of yourself. Improper posture without breaks will likely lead to aches and pains in your neck, low back or wrists. Follow this guide to promote proper ergonomics at your home workstation.
Start with assessing your workspace. Do you have a home office? A desk in a shared space? Or do you float from the kitchen table to the couch and back again? While it is good to have variety, it is important to maintain proper ergonomics no matter your set up. Keep your head upright and over your shoulders with your eyes gazing slightly downward. You should not have to bend at the neck. Your back should be supported by your chair to allow for a natural curve of your back. If necessary, place a pillow behind you. Keep your shoulders relaxed, down and back and elbows bent to keep forearms horizontal. Feet flat on the floor. Most of us do not have the same accommodations to work from home as we do in the office. Do the best you can to maintain proper form.
It is always important to take breaks to stand up, stretch, and move around. During office meetings, you move from your desk to the conference room. Working from home means clicking into one Zoom meeting right to the next. Make it a priority to stretch at least once each hour. This doesn’t have to take a long time. Sixty seconds of stretching, walking a lap around your house, or climbing stairs can do a great deal of good to help you reset your mind and body. Set a reminder on your phone or computer to alert you once an hour.
Remember to stretch! When your body is in one position for an extended period of time, it is important to move your body and stretch your stiff muscles and joints. Here are some sample stretches you can do at your desk.