Work From Home Ergonomics, a Primer
With hybrid and remote work becoming increasingly more common, considering the functionality of your home office setup is a must to ensure that you stay well and healthy. And no, we are not going to tell you that it is okay to type that 20-page report while sitting in your bed or even on the floor with minimal back support. We are, however, going to share some guidelines to follow to make sure your home office meets the standards to help you avoid needless injury.
As you may have already learned, a poorly set up workstation paired with bad posture and poor body mechanics can lead to musculoskeletal injury, and even poor general health. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), work-related musculoskeletal disorders are the number one occupational health hazard among employees nation-wide.
Fix your workstation before it is too late!
Setting Up Your Workstation at Home
When setting up an efficient at-home workstation, your computer monitor should be set at eye level and an arms-length distance away from you. This will help minimize strain on your eyes, neck, and shoulders. You can use anything you have at home to adjust the height of your monitor, such as books, boxes, or an adjustable stand. Many office super stores sell adjustable or stand-alone laptop stands for a fraction of the cost of older models.
When using your keyboard and mouse, position them within easy reach. Your shoulders and arms should be relaxed, and elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your wrists straight and in a neutral position when typing to avoid strain and cramping.
While you may love the idea of shopping for it, you do not need a super expensive office chair to get in the right position for those long Zoom calls with your team. However, it is important to have an adjustable chair that fits you properly. Sitting for an extended period can add a tremendous amount of pressure to your spine and cause additional strain on your lower back, neck, arms, and legs. Choose a chair that is tall enough for you to comfortably position your elbows at a 90-degree angle. Your feet should be flat on the floor or boosted up on a step stool, box, or stack of books, keeping your thighs parallel to the ground.
Practice good posture, as it is the foundation for back safety and keeping your body in proper alignment:
Keep your ears over your shoulders
Shoulders over hips
Hips over knees
Knees over ankles
Stomach pulled in and core engaged
To minimize the negative effects of sitting, take frequent activity breaks throughout the day. One of the most important things you can do for your body during your workday is move. Consider a walking meeting or setting an alarm to remind you to stand up regularly. Moving around every hour is good practice to prevent future health issues from extensive sitting or standing. Moving more will improve your circulation, stretch your muscles, help with focus, and reduce eye strain. Here are some ideas to get up and moving:
Take a walk outside in your neighborhood or drive to a local track/bike path
Practice yoga or meditation
Stream a workout or stretching video
Walk up and down your stairs while chatting on a call
Employees who are deconditioned, unhealthy, and live a sedentary lifestyle are at a greater risk of injury. Unhealthy lifestyle habits including smoking, inadequate sleep, sedentary behaviors, and stress can lead to poor health, lower productivity, and reduced quality of work. Contact us to learn more about resources and wellness programs that promote positive lifestyle changes and will help to encourage employees to prioritize their well-being.