If you're among the people who are transitioning to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a few helpful tips to consider when setting up a temporary home workstation. To add clarity to the topic, Dr. Andrew Sulatycki, the clinic director of Total Rehabilitation and Chiropractic Centre, recently shared a number of proactive measures to help employees who work from home stay healthy.
Things to Consider When Working in Your Home Office
Things to keep in mind when working from home include the way your sense of well-being is affected by your workspace and the need to include movement and mini-breaks in your workday. You should avoid working in positions that increase your risk of stress injuries and muscle aches.
Risks of Poor Ergonomics in a Home Office
It's important to protect yourself from the risks of poor ergonomics when you're working from home. After all, it's easy to curl up on the bed with a laptop or kick back in a recliner while working. However, working for extended periods in those positions can leave you with aches and pains.
Results of poor ergonomics may include stiffness, headaches, and lower back pain. Incorrect ergonomics may also cause nerve compression and leave you with tingling muscles or muscle tension. Neck and shoulder pain, tired eyes, and contact stress injuries may also occur.
For optimal ergonomics, seating should be designed so you can put your feet flat on the floor and sit back on the seat pan without the backs of your knees touching the pan, and it should support your back.
Accessories can be used with your existing seating to make your temporary workstation more comfortable. These include putting either a stack of books or a footrest on the floor in front of the chair to elevate legs a bit and adding lumbar support to a chair by using a strap-on backrest that attaches to your dining chair or by placing a pillow or rolled up towel behind your lower back.
Optimize Wrist and Hand Position
Contact stress and frequent hand movements, including both side-to-side and up-and-down movements, can cause injury to the wrist, as noted by Dr. Sulatycki. For a temporary solution to hand and wrist discomfort, try rolling up a small towel to support the palm of your hand. For a long-term solution, consider a cushioned keyboard hand support pad and a mouse pad with padded wrist support.
Correct monitor placement may help you avoid neck and shoulder discomfort. Position your computer monitor about an arm's length away and high enough that you don't have to lean forward or look up to see clearly. Try a monitor riser or laptop stand when positioning it, or for a temporary solution, sliding a sturdy box under the monitor lets you see how much you need to elevate your screen to be comfortable.
A properly arranged desktop makes it easy for you to remain in a neutral, ergonomic position. Use a stand or copyholder to prop up documents you're using, and place the stand close to the screen. That way, you don't have to lean forward or turn your head frequently to see printed information because everything is within close range for viewing.