Adjusting to the new trials and tribulations that 2020 and 2021 has brought has been tough on us all, but the reality is that this new style of life and work may be with us into 2022. Many companies and businesses have already signed off on another year of working from home for their staff and employees and we all know what that means… Another year home ridden, another year of back, neck and wrist pain due to sitting and home-made work stations, or even your dining table or dressing table.
We have all suffered the ramifications of working from home whether it has been the toll it’s taken on your joints or it has been the weight you’ve managed to gain from this new sedentary lifestyle. With the vaccines being administered globally we have new promise of a future back to normality, but we can’t wait for that possible future to come while still suffering the consequences of our current home office now. Prevention is always better than cure, so its important to help yourself now before any temporary pain you may be suffering with becomes permanent.
With that said, today I am going to talk you through the main steps you can take to ensure your home work station prepares you for the busy and active summer we can be expecting this 2021 instead of regressing in pain due to poor home office ergonomics.
A dedicated space
Ideally, you would use a small room that can hold a desk and computer equipment and whose door can be shut for the essential need to separate work life from home life.
Most people don’t have spare space, but many people can convert a guest room into a dual-purpose space: an office most of the time and a guest room when people visit. Even a garden shed can also do the double-duty trick.
If you can’t get a dedicated space you can separate from the rest of your life, try to find a niche space you can use that is out of the rest of the household’s way — and they out of yours — as much as possible.
Proper work height
Your space needs a desk or table that is at work height. The industry standard is 29 inches from the floor to the top of the work surface. Tall people do better with a higher height, and shorter people do better with a lower height. Many desks and tables have adjustable height, usually through their feet. If you don’t have a table that meets this height requirement you can easily create a make shift laptop prop which would just be a stack of books to lift your laptop or monitor and key board to a height that feels comfortable.
Proper monitor height
Get a large monitor (maybe two) for your home office — just as you would at the corporate office. I’ve had good luck with 25- to 27-inch monitors from Asus and Acer, but any major brand will offer high-quality monitors. Just avoid the cheapest monitors if you can, since they can lead to eyestrain over prolonged use due to their lower resolution and thus increased fuzziness.
A good chair
There are a lot of bad chairs out there that can injure you over prolonged computer use. Dining chairs and deck chairs, for example, rarely are at the right height, and they don’t always encourage the needed upright posture. Try to find yourself a specific office chair that will provide lumbar support. The best chairs will have adjustable height, back and arm rest options.
It’s very easy to underestimate the effects of your work environment on your ability to work. Lighting is often an area people don’t think about. Ideally, you have sufficient indirect light to illuminate your workspace, so you can easily read papers and see physical objects. Overhead lighting is usually best, such as from a ceiling lamp. Other than aesthetic indoor lighting, the main source of light which will benefit your home office is natural light. Try and face your desk toward a window so you have maximum natural light and sun facing into your home office. Don’t underestimate the benefits of a view! Having the option of a view and being able to see the day go by is said to increase your mood.
Lastly, we must focus on breaks. Being seated for many hours with your body in the same position and your eyes focused on the screen will have a negative impact on your body. It is crucial to take small breaks frequently to stand or go for a short walk around your house. Prolonged periods of sitting will worsen any pains you may have from working from home or at any office. Be sure to stay hydrated. Using these small walk breaks as a reason to head to the kitchen and get yourself a glass of water will be great for your body. Drinking water will keep your body and joints hydrated making movement more fluid and easy helping to counter act any stiff joints.
If you are still unsure about how to set up your home office you can book a home-office ergonomics assessment with one of our physios where we will assess your workspace over Zoom and ensure you have taken the correct steps to ensure a pain free home office. Alternatively, if you are a business leader you may want to purchase our Corporate Home Office well-being program where we can teach you and all of your employees or staff how to work effectively at your desk while performing small stretches with our instructional videos.