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Working from home can be an amazing experience. You can spend more time with your family, prepare healthy lunches for yourself in your own kitchen, take walks around the neighborhood when you need a break.
This is perhaps why working from home has become so popular! In fact, in 2019, over 40% of adults in the United States worked from home at least occasionally, if not full-time.
That said, if you’re going to work from home, you need to set up your office the right way. Neglecting work from home ergonomics can leave you feeling tired, achy, and unmotivated. Not to mention it can lead to serious health concerns down the road!
That’s why we’ve compiled a guide to ergonomics for working from home. Using these tips, you’ll stay comfortable and productive all day long!
The Basics of Ergonomics
If you work a desk job and find yourself constantly searching the internet for how to help your back pain, ergonomics could be your answer. There are three basic concepts of ergonomics to keep in mind when setting up your home office: posture, eye and elbow height, and work area. Here’s a brief overview of each.
The key to preventing back and neck pain is to keep your spine in a neutral position as much as you can. Regardless of whether you’re seated or standing, your spine should be straight, keeping your ears in line with your shoulders.
If you’re seated, your feet should always be flat to the floor. Your elbows, knees, and hips should be at a 90-degree angle, and your wrists should be straight or bent slightly downward.
Eye and Elbow Height
No matter if you’re seated or standing, your keyboard and mouse should be at elbow height, with the monitor at or slightly below eye level. The key is to have the monitor high enough so that you don’t subconsciously tilt your head downward throughout the day.
Now, you may be thinking, “I work from a laptop, I can’t do that.” And you’re right. However, if you want to keep your back and neck healthy, you need to make some changes.
If you work from a laptop, it’s a good idea to purchase a separate screen or keyboard to separate the two. Yes it’s an investment, but think of it as an investment in your health, as it will help prevent you from paying astronomical doctors bills down the road.
Your work area should be separated into three zones: primary, secondary, and reference. Your primary zone is what you can reach without moving your elbows and should contain your keyboard and mouse only.
The secondary zone is what you can easily reach by outstretching your arm. In this zone, you can place things like your phone, your coffee, and any tools you might need throughout the workday such as scrap paper or a calculator.
Your reference zone should contain things that don’t require touch, such as your monitor, and the items that you use least often.
Work from Home Ergonomics Tips
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of ergonomics, let’s talk about some specific tips that you can use to improve your workday and prevent back pain working from home.
If you don’t have a designated room for a home office, that’s okay! As long as you create a workspace somewhere in your home that allows for ergonomics, you’ll reap the benefits.
Choose the Right Chair
Your chair is perhaps the most important part of ergonomics, as the right chair will help you maintain proper posture working from home. You want a chair that is curved in a way that supports the natural curve of your spine.
It should be low enough that your feet are flat and your thighs are parallel to the ground, but high enough that your legs aren’t bent awkwardly beneath it. It’s best to have a chair with armrests that allow you to rest your forearms on them with your shoulders relaxed as you type.
Your Desk Matters
When choosing a desk, and it can be a kitchen table if need be, make sure you have enough room underneath to comfortably fit your legs. Depending on the height of your workspace, you may need a footrest to support your feet.
If you can, invest in an adjustable desk. This will allow you to alternate between a seated to standing position throughout the day. It’s not good for you to sit all day long, but it’s not good to stand for hours at a time either.
Take Frequent Breaks
Speaking of things that are good for you, it’s very important that you take frequent breaks during the workday. Every 90 minutes or so, get up and stretch your legs. Go to the kitchen and get a drink of water, step out into the backyard, or do a quick stretching routine.
In between those breaks, you should practice the 20/20/20 rule. This means that for every 20 minutes you spend looking at your screen, you spend 20 seconds looking at an object at least 20 feet away. Doing so will prevent eye strain by giving your eyes a break from the harsh computer screen.
Improve Productivity and Stay Comfortable at Home With This Guide
Working from home can be the best thing that’s ever happened to you – if you do it the right way. The importance of work from home ergonomics cannot be overstated, it’s what will keep you feeling your best all day and prevent chronic pain in the long run.
Remember, as tempting as it may be to work in bed in your pajamas, it’s vital that you have a workspace that allows you to maintain proper posture.
Looking for more tips for getting the most out of your home office? Check out our blog!