How to Make Your Home Workspace ErgonomicPublié le 26 March 2020
Working from home sounds like it should be a great deal more comfortable than working in the office. You can put on your softest hoodie and lean back in your favourite spot on the couch while you continue to do your job. That is, until the first hint of pain in your shoulder starts to appear and spreads toward your fingertips. This is why it is important to make your home workspace ergonomic, meaning designed to promote physical comfort and ease of use. That way you can work from home and continue to be part of your virtual work team, all without pain or discomfort.
Anyone who has spent a long period of time working in an office knows that aches and pains that can result. It does not seem like a physically demanding job, but people who work in office jobs or similar job roles that require long periods of sitting can experience a number of physical ailments. These include:
- Nerve pinches
- Muscles knots and strains
- Back spasms
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
The best way to avoid these physical issues to make your home workspace ergonomic, which is possible with just a few simple guidelines for your:
We spend a lot of our time sitting. 81% of surveyed office workers report spending between four to nine hours of the work day sitting down. When you transition to working from home and performing the same tasks, you’ll also spend a large amount of time sitting. This is why choosing the correct chair is very important. A proper chair will allow you to keep your back straight and your feet on the floor. Armrests can help, as long as they keep your arms and hands at or below the level of your elbows. For all these reasons, it’s easy to see that a couch, recliner or beanbag chair are not conducive to pain-free work. These will force your spine into curved or unusually stretched positions that, while possibly comfortable at first, can lead to serious pain over time.
How we sit can also affect our lower limbs. When sitting, your feet should be able to rest flat on the floor without dangling or, alternatively, pushing your knees higher than is comfortable. If the chair that helps you maintain good posture is not high enough for your feet to touch the floor, use a box or another flat object to act as a food rest. This will take pressure off the joints and ligaments in your legs, knees and ankles.
Many work from home jobs involve being on the phone for extended periods of time, such as telemarketing and customer service. Everyone has used their shoulder to brace their phone against their ear at some point and while this works for brief conversations, it is certainly not good to do it for hours at a time. Bracing your phone with your shoulder or even just holding it to your head for extended periods pulls the muscles in the shoulder, neck and back in an awkward manner. This can cause pain and spasms, while potentially contributing to arthritis in the future. If your job requires you to be on the phone for hours, it is best to use a headset with a microphone. This will not require you to hold your phone to your head in an uncomfortable position, and will also leave your hands free.
A vast majority of work from home jobs involve working on a computer. When making your ergonomic home work space, different computer setups require different arrangements. If you use a desktop computer, keyboard and mouse, create a space that leaves the appropriate amount of space between them. The Office Ergonomics Handbook created by Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers states that:
- The top of the monitor should be at eye-level
- The monitor should be an arm’s length away from you
- The screen should be tilted upwards slightly
If you will be working on a laptop computer, it will be necessary to create a workspace that keeps the screen the right distance from your eyes while also leaving your arms in the proper position on the keyboard. Your monitor should still be the same height and distance, without causing pain and stress on the joints of your hands and wrists.
If your home workspace has a desk, it will be much simpler to make your home workspace ergonomic. Of course, not everyone has the space or the financial resources for a dedicated home office complete with office equipment. A solid table can be just as effective as a fancy desk from an office depot. Just make sure that it has a firm base to prevent wobbling – which can cause eye strain – and allows you to place your computer and other work devices at the appropriate distance. It should also be high enough that you can fit your knees underneath while sitting, allowing you to maintain proper posture. The overall size of the table doesn’t really matter as long as it works for your needs.
Bonus: Standing Desk
Standing desks have become increasingly popular as workplaces become more attuned to the health of their employees. Studies have shown that using standing desks – or more correctly, adjustable height desks – for periods of time can improve some of the negative health effects of prolonged sitting and boost productivity.
If you search for standing desks online, you’ll see that they can be quite expensive, especially when using them to make your home workspace ergonomic. Of course, you don’t need to spend a ton of money on a big standing desk, Still have some boxes from your last move? Boom, put them on the table in front of you and there’s your new standing desk. Just make sure that your screen and keyboard are at the right height and distance, and you should be good to go.
Making your home workspace ergonomic does not have to be complicated or expensive. If you have formed some bad habits with your posture or form at the office, working from home is the opportunity to break them. Listen to your body, and do not resort to working through physical discomfort or pain. None of these rules are set in stone, especially when you’re in your own home. This is one space where you should always feel comfortable. Experiment with different things until you find a setup in your home workspace that benefits you and your physical health.