Sometimes, it can be tiring working from home. Shoulders ache, and it feels like your back is breaking. But, you can prevent this pain with work from home ergonomics.
Asides setting up your home office to reduce the impact of work on your body, a well-arranged home workplace also gives the illusion that you are in a formal work environment – except that you could be sitting there in your nightie!
So, how do you set up your workplace for success, and what equipment would you need? Read this post to learn more.
What is work from home ergonomics?
According to dictionary.com, ergonomics means “the study of the relationship between people and their working environment, especially the equipment they use.”
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It is concerned with the way devices are arranged to suit the physical comfort and capability of the user, so that less physical effort is expended for maximum efficiency.
Ergonomics was mainly used for the official workplace, but since many people now have home offices, it has become an important work from home factor. Like the office, it is essential to design a safe and conducive workplace at home for optimal productivity.
People that do not optimize their home workplace ergonomically have an increased risk of developing pains and spinal health issues resulting from poor postures. According to the Nigerian Posture Institute, poor posture can also lead to respiratory dysfunctions and lower metabolic rates.
Working from home ergonomic assessment
The home workplace ergonomics aims to create a conducive environment to ensure your spine stays neutral when working. It will take quite some effort from you to set up an ergonomic workspace at home. You can adjust to your current equipment or even buy new ones to get a perfect setup.
However, you must assess your current home office to see what changes need to be made. Evaluate the impact on your spine when working in your current setup. Do you feel any strain on your spine? Or have you ever experienced back, neck, wrist, or shoulder pain after working for a while? If yes, you need to adjust your setup to fit the work from home ergonomics.
The most ergonomic setup allows your body to work at ease, applying less pressure on your spine. It will help you carry your body in a position that will not feel unnatural or be too hard on your muscles.
Poor posture makes the spine curve off its neutral position for as long as the work lasts, leading to pain and discomfort or even severe health issues in the future.
So, when setting up a proper home workplace ergonomics, focus on the impact on your back while testing the positions. Keep adjusting until you feel neutral on your back.
How to set up your work from home ergonomics
Setting up an ergonomic workplace at home starts with getting the ergonomic work from home essentials and arranging them correctly. Of course, the list of ergonomic work from home accessories is endless, but having the requirements is an excellent place to start.
Get these tools below and follow the instructions required to set up your ergonomic workplace at home.
- Table or desk
You need a good working surface for your work from home ergonomics. It could be at the countertop, dining table, or, if you’re privileged, an office desk. Though you can use any of these, the general safety rule is to ensure that you obtain the correct posture when using it.
The best table or desk to use for your work from home ergonomics should be able to elevate your computer screen to a level where the address bar of your browser is at your eye level. It should also comfortably fit in your thighs and knees and feet underneath and should be wide enough for you to spread your legs apart comfortably.
The height can differ depending on whether you will be sitting or standing to work, but a sitting desk should be long enough to avoid your knees banging on it.
Amazon has some best selling ergonomic tables and desks suitable for sitting and standing. See our best picks below.
Best adjustable work from home desk
Ensure your desk doesn’t have sharp ages. Pressure builds more on your forearms and wrist when there are sharp edges on your desk. Use a work surface edge protector to overcome the challenge.
Sitting or standing
The suitable desk for you depends on whether you intend to stand or sit to do your work. If you want to get a desk that helps you work and exercise simultaneously, a standing desk is ideal. Research shows that it can help you burn 88 calories an hour, and that’s much better than sitting to work.
Check out these highly-rated standing desks on Amazon.
Standing desk with adjustable height
Mobile standing desk
Besides, a standing desk also gives you an alternative, and prevents back injuries and strains from sitting all day in a chair. However, it can be pretty uncomfortable if you’re not used to standing to work for a long time.
If you are unsure whether you will mostly be sitting or standing to work, or you will prefer to switch positions at regular intervals, buy an adjustable desk. These desks are available on Amazon at really reasonable amounts.
Add any of these super-comfortable adjustable desk to your work from home office. They are bestsellers on Amazon, with many positive reviews from buyers.
Even if you have the best desk from Amazon, without a comfortable chair, your workplace ergonomics will still be poor. Adjustable chairs are the best, but without them, you can still optimize your regular chair to fit.
An adjustable chair makes it easy to find a suitable position. You only need to adjust the height of this chair to be parallel to the floor, so that your knees will bend to keep your leg at a 90-degree angle and not hit against the desk surface.
There are some tremendous adjustable chair fits for your work from home ergonomics. Some are suitable for every budget, whether you’re willing to invest $100 or $1,000.
Our most preferred is the Amazon Basic Classic Puresoft Padded Midback Computer Desk Chair with Armrest. It is very cheap for its features and has various adjustments to help you work comfortably.
If it is difficult to get an adjustable chair for your working home ergonomics, you can make some slight adjustments to your regular chair at home.
Not every chair can do. Go for chairs with a backrest to support your spine’s natural shape. If you can’t find this kind of chair, add a towel roll to support your lumbar.
Place your feet flat while you sit and ensure your thighs are parallel to the floor. If the chair makes it difficult to keep your knees at the same height as your thighs, pad with a cushion to adjust the height.
If you are using a kitchen stool that is too high to let your feet rest on the floor, get a footrest, step stool, flat shoes, or a sturdy box to place under your legs. Try as many sizes as possible until you get the right fit.
Best work from home footrest
- Computer set
You will likely be using a laptop for the home office; however, they are not very ergonomic. Since the keyboard is connected to the laptop screen, it is challenging to obtain a good posture while typing.
Even when using a desktop, you still have to adjust your externals to ensure they are suitably placed.
See how to place the following properly:
The computer screen
Your computer monitor is well placed if the middle of your monitor is a little below your eye level. This means that you should slightly look down without bending your neck if you want to see the middle of the screen.
If you intend to stand while working, use step stools or stable boxes to elevate your laptop or computer monitor to your eye level.
Some desks may not be high enough to elevate your laptop screen to your eye level when sitting. In this case, a suitable laptop stand will help.
We love this adjustable ergonomic laptop stand from Amazon.
You should also place your monitor at the center, at least arm’s length from you, to see your screen without moving your head left or right. Also, adjust the screen so that you do not have direct lights on the monitor entering your eyes.
If you use more than one screen, ensure all the screens at placed side-by-side with each other in a way that there is no space between them. Keep the primary monitor in the middle and the others by the sides. However, if you use only two screens side by side, these screens should meet at your sightline, which is your direct eye level when you raise your head.
The keyboard and mouse
If you use a laptop, then you will need a detached keyboard to be able to maintain proper ergonomics. A flat keyboard makes it easy to have good keyboard ergonomics compared to a negative tilt. With the negative tilt, your wrist will bend while you type, which can be pretty uncomfortable. However, a flat keyboard will make it easy to type with a straight wrist, thereby reducing your pains.
For the placement, keep your keyboard at your elbow level, and ensure your wrist stays straight when you type. The distance between your keyboard and yourself should allow your upper arms to stay close to your body at ease.
A wrist rest will do you good when trying to maintain good keyboard ergonomics. If you can’t buy one, use a rolled-up towel or socks filled with rice.
Keep your mouse beside your keyboard with your dominant hand, so you can easily reach out for it without stretching. If you use a laptop, get a detachable mouse. It is easier to use with a detachable keyboard.
Depending on your work type, you may need a headphone with a microphone to make teleconference calls. Even if you won’t frequently be making calls, a noise cancellation headphone will help reduce the noise and help you concentrate.
The following are some of the best headphones to consider when working from home. These headphones are available in different price ranges and are a significant investment, especially if you have kids.
The type of light you use in your home office can affect your physical health, mood, circadian rhythm, creativity, and productivity. Too bright lights will trigger migraines because they are too harsh on your eyes, and too dim ones can strain your eyes.
Always go for natural light when setting up your home office. Open your window to let in enough light during the day.
Natural light reduces your risk of having headaches, eye strain, and blurred vision. This is backed up by research done by the Department Of Design And Environmental Analysis at Cornell University. The results showed that 84% of employees that used natural light had decreased headaches, eye strain, and blurred vision.
If it is challenging for you to stay organized, get a storage solution. Having a home office full of clutter will reduce your productivity because of the many distractions.
A good storage cabinet can help you store everything you need within your reach without them showing up on the desk.
You will love these storage solutions from Amazon.
How to survive working from home
Safety is paramount when working from home, to maintain your well-being and protect your family members from accidents and injuries. The following are essential for work from home ergonomics.
- Mind your posture
Anyone that spends up to 40 hours a week working on their laptop knows the level of the shoulder, back, and neck strain they can have if they hunch over their laptops. Sit with your back straight with your keyboard and mouse at a close range. Your feet should also be flat on the floor with your arms hanging straight down from your shoulders.
- Alternate working positions
Diabetes and high blood pressure are on the rise and people who spend all day sitting are at serious risk of developing these conditions. Standing doesn’t even make it better, as you can quickly develop joint pain, muscle fatigue, back pain, and others. It is important to switch your working positions and take a few walks during your break.
Get an adjustable desk. If you can’t, consider walking as much as possible. For instance, you can walk around when you want to make a call or read.
- The 20-20-20 rule
Eye strain is a common ailment that occurs from working all day long on the computer. You can prevent this by following the 20-20-20 rule. Look away from the monitor for 20 seconds after spending 20 minutes on your computer. The object of your focus should be 20 feet away.
Regular breaks are necessary when working from home; consider taking one at least every hour. During these breaks, stretch and move to refresh your nerves and muscles and prevent injuries. It will also ease up any tension that may have been built on your spine.
- Air quality
Your brain needs sufficient oxygen to perform at optimal speed. Poor airflow can also affect your nose and throat, and strain your eyes. It is essential to use a ventilated room for your home office.
If you’ll be using any chemicals for work, store them safely and use a carbon monoxide detector to prevent poisoning.
- Child safety
A home office can be potentially dangerous for children. That is why you must childproof the office to prevent injuries for them.
Some ways of doing this are getting electric socket covers for your unused electric sockets and placing sharp objects out of reach. Sharp edges on the work table and cabinets are not healthy for even you as an adult, so cover them up.
- Prevent accidents
With many electric wires and cables around the house, trips and falls are common accidents. Ensure your wires are out of the walkway and are flat and secure on the floor. If you use carpets, ensure no bumps under for people to trip and fall.
Why is ergonomics important while working from home?
Work from home ergonomics helps you stay as organized and productive at home as you would in the office. It gives you a separate workplace from the other parts of your home and keeps you in optimum health.
How bad is it to work from my bed?
Working from the bed is bad since the firmest mattress is not strong enough to support your spine. Your head will be bent forward to look down on your screen, increasing your risk of developing eye, neck, wrist, back, and shoulder problems.
Should I work from home on a couch?
No, a couch doesn’t allow good working posture and will also cause neck, back, shoulder, and eye problems.
What are some examples of ergonomic equipment?
Some work from home ergonomic equipment includes keyboard trays, standing desks, laptop stands, ergonomic mouse, kneeling chairs, subtle cheers, etc. They are equipment that help make your work at home safe and efficient.
What can bad ergonomics cause?
Poor working ergonomics can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), including sharp pain, tingling, and numbing. Severe cases can cause partial paralysis and affect mobility.
Work from home ergonomics is essential to prevent back strain and other potential posture problems. Though setting up your workplace may be financially demanding, the benefits are enormous in the long run.
Also, your pain-free body will thank you.
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