5 Ergonomic Tips You Need to Check Out Now If You're Working from Home
Working from home may be a sudden and major adjustment for people right now. Remote work comes with a lot of changes and its own set of challenges, from hunching over laptops to a plethora of new distractions. Now, perhaps more than ever, is a great time to freshen up on ergonomics- or the science of designing the workplace or task to the individual’s specific needs, leading to a more efficient, safe, and productive work environment. In order to make this transition a little smoother, and more comfortable, we’ve compiled our top 5 ergonomic tips to get you started!
1. Find the right chair
Although our bed and couch may scream comfort to us at times, it’s one of the worst places to work from within the house! A comfortable and supportive chair is always a great investment and can make or break how efficiently you work. Before you start shopping for chairs online, make sure you test out the variety of chairs you may already have within your house.
An ideal office chair should have:
Good back support
Adjustable height, or the proper height so that your thighs are parallel with the floor, your hips are slightly higher than your knees, and your feet are resting flat
The front of the seat should not be digging into the back of your knees
The chair shouldn’t be too hard, so that you can’t get comfortable
If you do not have an ideal office chair easily accessible to you, you can try to make some adjustments to accomplish better ergonomics with what you have. You can increase lumbar support by using a rolled towel or cushion against your lower back, you can add a throw pillow on top of the seat to raise your hips up a little or add additional comfort, or you can utilize a footrest to help recline or so that your feet lay flat.
2. Focus on your posture and positioning
Good posture is a key element to being comfortable and reducing chronic injuries. Working in awkward or unsupported positions, may work fine short-term, but overtime you’re most likely going to start feeling it! When performing office work for long periods of time, it is important to stay in a relaxed, comfortable position and keep in mind the following:
Keep the body upright and avoid slouching.
When using a laptop, consider using a separate keyboard and mouse in order to achieve better ergonomics.
Your arms should be relaxed at your sides, forming a 90⁰ angle at the elbow, and run parallel to your working surface or keyboard.
Keep your hands, wrists, and forearms straight and parallel to the floor.
The computer monitor should be directly in front of you, so that your head is facing forward, and approximately 18 inches or an arm’s length away. If you find yourself slouching forward the text may need to be enlarged or the monitor pulled a little closer.
Adjust the monitor height so that the top line of the text on the screen is at eye level.
Your keyboard or keyboard tray should also be directly in front of you.
The area under your workstation should be free of clutter so that you can move with ease.
Items used frequently (phone, calculator, papers, etc.) should be within easy reach.
If you make a lot of phone calls, try using a headset or putting the call on speaker in order to free up your hands and reduce strain to your neck.
3. Follow the 20/20/20 rule
Staring at a computer screen all day can cause eye strain and dryness. Following the 20/20/20 rule is one way to ensure you give your eyes a break and add a little movement. It recommends that every 20 minutes, you take your eyes off of the screen and focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Other considerations for your eyes include: reducing glares by tilting the monitor or adjusting shades on the windows, finding optimal work lighting- not too bright or too dark, adjusting your computer display settings- such as the brightness, text size and contrast, and color temperature.
4. Take the time to get up and walk around
No matter how comfortable you made your workspace, staying stagnant in the same position all day can reduce your wellness and productivity. Regular movement is key for healthy bodies as well as reducing musculoskeletal injury risks. We recommend that you get up to walk around for a few minutes every hour. This could be to grab a drink, use the restroom, walk the dog, or even do some light exercises or stretches. These micro-breaks help to refresh your body and mind!
You should also try to incorporate movement and position diversification throughout your work tasks. Are you calling into a meeting; can you walk around the room as you partake? Can you stand while reviewing some paper work? How about some light exercises at your desk like leg planks, foot drills, and shoulder raises?
5. Recognize discomfort
Discomfort or pain while performing your work should alert you that something is off. It is important to recognize these indicators so you can make appropriate adjustments, or seek medical advice, before an injury occurs. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and lower back injuries are unfortunately common, but often times can be prevented through proper ergonomics.
These tips were compiled to help aid you in creating a more comfortable and efficient work from home space. One of the lasting effects we may see from Covid-19 is that more companies opt to allow employees to keep working from home. Let us know which tips you try, which work best for you, and any further questions you might have. MiEHS Alliance hopes everyone is doing well and staying healthy during these trying times.