Use this guide to help prevent troublesome aches, pains & strains and stay focused on what matters most – your clients.
To many, working from home sounds amazing — a comfy couch or your favorite recliner to sink into and, when you’re feeling a bit adventurous, maybe tackling some work while lying in bed.
But when you think about that slight pain you’ve been having in your back, the discomfort in your neck or the constant strain you’ve been feeling in your eyes, those comfy work spaces can quickly become troublesome.
The temptation to lounge around and work with your laptop can be enticing but when you ditch the (hopefully ergonomic) office chairs and stand-up desks, you could find yourself with poor posture, a lack of arm support and some killer aches and pains.
It’s time to substitute the couch for a more suitable work from home (WFH) station because, yes, even in the comfort of your own home you could be setting yourself up for a lot of stress and strains down the road. Consider these tips for creating a more ergonomic work space.
1. Environment is essential
Before settling into your new workstation, you have to find the right location. Sometimes overlooked, lighting and ventilation can greatly affect comfort and productivity. Although meant for your typical office environment, the following OSHA tips can be incorporated at home for a more appropriate workstation:
- Lighting behind your screen can create contrast issues while direct light sources can reflect on your monitor — making it difficult to see and causing eye strain. Use blinds or drapes to eliminate bright lights and adjust accordingly to make sure light is not in your direct field of vision. If possible, reorganize your workstation so bright lights are at right angles with your computer screen and don’t forget to clean your monitor frequently. Dust can contribute to the glare.
- Among other uncomfortable conditions, poor ventilation can lead to dry air and eyes. Avoid placing desks and chairs under air conditioning vents unless designed to redirect air flow. It’s also ideal to keep the relative humidity of the air between 30 and 50 percent.
2. Upgrade your monitor
Laptops are perfect for easy, on-the-go use but when you’re relying on them every day for personal and professional use, you should start to consider screen size. If too small, you could find yourself hunching forward and straining your eyes to read from your screen – doing some real damage to your neck, back and eyes. If possible, use your home computer to incorporate a bigger monitor.
We get it — we’re all on a budget these days. If you don’t have a home computer to work from, increase the screen text size and consider investing in an inexpensive laptop riser to help raise your monitor to eye-level. Want to get even more innovative? Stack some books and — voila!
3. Perfect your posture
How ironic is it that working with your laptop on your lap is one of the worst ergonomic positions? Ideally, you want to get familiar with the concept of neutral body positioning — a comfortable working posture where your joints are naturally aligned — to help reduce the risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD). While working at your desk, remember to keep these tips in mind:
- Keep hands, wrist and forearms are straight and roughly parallel to the floor
- Ensure head is level, forward facing, balanced and generally in-line with your torso
- Keep shoulders relaxed and upper arms at the side of your body
- Elbows should stay in close to body and be bent between 90 and 120 degrees
- Keep feet supported by the floor or a footrest if desk height isn’t adjustable
- Back should be fully supported with lumbar support when sitting vertically or leaning back
- Keep thighs and hips supported and generally parallel to the floor
- Knees should be about the same height as the hips with feet slightly forward
4. Get movin'
Working in the same position or sitting for prolonged periods can cause increased stress on your body — even if you’ve perfected your posture. Set a reminder to do some stretches, switch to a standing position for some of your work day or even take a break and go for a walk. Whatever you choose, your body will thank you in the long run.
Whether you’re working from the comfort of your own home or returning to a more traditional office environment, keep these recommendations top-of-mind for the sake of your physical well-being.
Richie Almeida, Integrated Marketing Specialist
Richie is an avid movie goer with an addiction to Sour Patch Kids. If he isn’t at the movies, he is at the gym or on a hike trying to make up for his bad eating habits.