The world is changing, and the reality right now is more and more people and companies are beginning to implement work from home strategies. There’s a lot of benefits to working at home. You have the freedom to do whatever your back without looking over your shoulder, including cooking something during your lunch breaks. In this article, we will tell you the importance of home office ergonomics.
However, if you are going to be working from home for the first time, getting the right home office set up is critical and can be quite challenging. Compared to your business office, your home can have limited office space. Even if you have invested in a good quality desk and chair, you may not have the adjustability required to offer a suitable long-term working environment. Therefore, when looking to implement a work from home environment, remember to apply ergonomic basics.
Why Is Home Office Ergonomics Important?
Ergonomics is a science that is concerned with designing and arranging equipment used by people so that the interaction is efficient and safe. It is important to note that an essential part of this definition is ‘safe and efficient.’
Picture this, you are working on an important project on your home office computer, and suddenly, you begin to feel some pain on your back and neck. The fatigue and discomfort caused will distract you from your task, and you won’t be thinking about completing your assignment anymore.
Therefore, setting up an ergonomically optimized home office will help you work safely and efficiently. By implementing some of the tips we will outline in this article, you will protect your body from pain and injury caused by a poor workspace setup. You’ll be much more comfortable and able to focus on your tasks, which will indirectly boost your productivity.
What Are Some of the Typical Office-Related Pain and Injuries?
There are several conditions related to working in a position that places undue strain and stress on your body. They include:
In case you have begun working from home, and you develop pain, as mentioned above, adjust your position at your home office. If the symptoms persist, you’ll need to consult your physician to help you feel better. A qualified physical therapist is in the right position to access your current home office set up and make recommendations for better ergonomics.
What Is the Best Location for an Ergonomic Home Office?
The right space or position for your home office differs from one individual to the next. Regardless of the type of home you have, try to look for an area that offers:
- Easy access to internet and power
- Adequate lighting
If there is more than one person in your office, and you don’t have a designated home office space, your bedroom might offer the kind of privacy you need to handle your task. If your bedroom is the ideal spot, use a desk or table near outlets with an adjustable office chair to offer excellent postural support. You should avoid working while seated on your bed, however tempting it might be. Sitting on a bed will force your neck and back in a forward bent position, which leads to strain and stress.
Kitchen or Dining room table
Your typical dining or kitchen table is about 30-inches; therefore, it should be ideal for setting up your home office. In case your home table is much higher, you’ll require to get an adjustable chair that allows you to sit higher. Also, if you need to adjust your chair to be higher, you’ll need a stack of books to rest your feet and keep your knees and hips in an optimum position.
A studio apartment
In case your home is a tiny studio apartment, you’ll have to be creative. For starters, choose a location that is close to an electrical outlet and is free from clutter. You’ll also need to purchase a desk and an adjustable chair. If you are using a couch, you’ll need pillows to offer the kind of support an office chair would.
A home office
If you are lucky enough to have a home office space, simply check that your monitor, keyboard, and desk are at the proper height, and you can reach everything without straining. Remove clutter or excess papers that could distract you from working.
Home Office Ergonomic Tips
Ergonomics is the science of individual’s interactions with their working environment. Therefore, to make a suitable home ergonomic office, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Computer screen position
It is recommended that you use a desktop computer. While laptops and tablets are great for convenience and mobility, they do not come with a separate screen and keyboard. You are forcing the user to look down while working. This places undue stress and strain on your neck as you work. While working on your computer, your elbows must be bent about 90 degrees. Your forearms are directly in front of you. Also, your keyboard needs to be directly in front of you and line with your wrists and arms.
It is recommended that your desk is between 25 to 30-inches. However, these guidelines vary with the user’s height. In case your home desk feels short, you can use raisers underneath the table desks to raise it higher. If it’s too tall, you’ll need to get an adjustable chair.
For comfortable working, ensuring your computer screen is directly in front of you. When looking at the screen, the top-third of the monitor needs to be at eye level. Depending on the positioning, you’ll need to get creative with the height. You can use a stack of books to get it to the right height. Also, your computer monitor needs to be about 24 inches from your nose.
Chair design and position
For proper posture, you need to get an office chair with a height of between 16 to 20 inches. But still, it’s all dependent on the user’s height. Just make sure the chair height is adjustable. When seated, your feet should rest flat on the floor, with your knees at a 90-degree angle. Avoid dangling feet; instead, use a box or a stack of books.
Make sure your backrest offers adequate lumbar support, it helps ease the strain on your lower back while working. Ensure the backrest is upright with a backward lean of between 5 to 10-degrees. Your office chair seat depth needs to be between 17 to 24 inches. Ensure there’s space between the back of your knees and seat resting your back against the chair backrest
Areas to Focus on an Ergonomic Home Office
When driving, we tend to make adjustments to ensure our body fits well for a comfortable driving experience; you should do the same with your home office. If anything, a right home office set up isn’t much different from sitting in your car.
Neck and head
Your head and neck are perhaps the most affected when you have an inferior home office setup. To ensure that they are free from pain and strain, customize a position that is comfortable with little fatigue. Ensure that your screen is not too low, forcing you to look down, and to avoid forward flexing. If you are using a laptop, consider using a laptop riser, or a stack of books. Also, invest in a mouse and keyboard.
Hand and wrist position
It is vital for comfortability and less strain that your hands and wrists are in a neutral position, just like your head. Extend your arm and hand forward, and let them lay flat on your desk. Make sure your forearms and wrists are flush to avoid wrist hinging.
Back support and seated posture
It is recommended that you sit at a 90-degree angle. The trunk of your body needs to be perpendicular to the floor. Alternatively, find a posture that lets you view the screen while sitting back in a position that offers lower back support- just like you would be driving a car.
Sitting and Standing
There’s a lot of debate about whether it’s healthier to sit or stand while working on your desk. However, standing desks are becoming more and more popular, with most companies investing in sit-to-stand working stations. The main idea here is to relieve strain and stress on your neck and lower back.
Research comparing sitting to standing while working varies, with those supporting standing saying it’s superior. Most health experts agree that switching between standing and sitting while working offers a lot of benefits for your musculoskeletal health.
If you are looking to switch your tasks from your business or company to the home office, taking some time to ensure that it is ergonomic will help reduce repetitive strain and stress while working. Ultimately, it will help minimize pain, improving your posture, and productivity working on tasks.