In the year and a half that the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world, there was a mad scramble for companies to find ways to keep their businesses running. The one solution that proved very effective, not to mention highly acceptable for their employees, is working from home (WFH).
Not only is everyone still earning much needed money, they have also discovered that working from the comforts of their own home makes them more productive.
Truth to tell, however, even those who are enjoying their current work status admit to missing that comfy ergonomic chair and similarly designed furnishings in the office. While it is true that you can relax and be comfortable in your house, much of the furnishings are not designed for work.
If you want to transform your home to make it conducive for work, consider observing these top 10 best practices of WFH ergonomics.
It should be mentioned right from the start that the core of these ergonomic practices is the maintenance of proper posture by keeping the spine’s normal curvature. Once this goal has been achieved, ergonomics extends to maintaining efficiency and safety in your WFH workspace.
1) De-clutter your work area
Before you work on the furnishings, you should first de-clutter your work area. This means removing files, boxes, vases, or any items scattered around your workspace to keep you from tripping over them and having costly accidents.
Invest in book shelves and cabinets in which to place these items. Ensure that you have enough legroom to walk around your workspace.
2) Adjust your desk
Consider first the space underneath your desk. It should be wide and comfortable so that you can slide into it, with your knees, thighs, and feet not banging into anything. All items on your desk, especially the keyboard and mouse, should be at elbow height when you are sitting down.
You may want to consider getting an adjustable desk so you can change the height when necessary. But what if you can’t afford to buy a new desk? If your keyboard and mouse are positioned too low, raise the desk surface by placing these items on top of boxes or books.
If these items are too high, consider adjusting the height of your chair instead. Always remember that the bend of your elbow should be at an angle of 90 degrees.
3) Get the best chair
Ideally, you should use an ergonomic office chair that comes with comfortable head, neck, and arm rests. These chairs are specifically designed to follow your spine’s natural S-curvature. However, in some cases, you may need to make adjustments.
If your chair makes it difficult for you to achieve a neutral spine, place a small pillow/cushion or rolled up towel to support the small of your back. Make sure that your bottom is seated evenly on the seat and not raised on one side or the other.
Again, your elbow should be at a 90-degree angle with arms straight. If your arm is not at the right height with your keyboard and mouse, try adjusting the arm rests or raise your chair height.
When you are sitting down, your thighs should be parallel with the floor with your knees at hip height. Your feet should not be dangling as it may cause stress in your lumbar area.
Both feet should rest flat on the floor. If your feet are dangling, use a foot stool. Always use slippers or flat-heeled shoes.
4) Consider the position of your computer monitor
The computer monitor on your desk should be an arm’s length away from you. It should be positioned at or a bit below eye level.
To better gauge the positioning, remember that your neck should be straight as you face the monitor and you should be able to see the top one third of the screen. Adjust the brightness to reduce glare. Or you can use special eye glasses to protect your eyes.
If you are using multiple monitors, the main screen should be right at the center. The other two screens are lined up on either side of your main screen without any gaps and pointed slightly inwards.
5) Adjust your laptop screen
With your laptop, you need to consider not only the level of your screen, but also the height of the keyboard when you lay it on your desk.
Again, check the 90-degree angle of your elbows and straight arms as you place your hands on the keyboard. Adjust the angle of your laptop screen for the best view.
6) Check your keyboard and mouse
Both your keyboard and mouse should be at the right desk height wherein your wrists are lying straight and your upper arms are positioned comfortably close to your body.
Make sure that both keyboard and mouse are within reach. Your elbows should hang in a natural position at your sides. If they are not at the right height, use a mouse and keyboard riser to elevate them.
7) Take note of wrist placement
Your wrists should be lying straight on your desk. You can achieve better keyboard placement by using a wrist rest or placing a small rolled-up towel under your wrists.
You can also help your wrists by keeping the keyboard lying flat on your desk or at a negative tilt (with the keyboard’s top row tilted down instead of up). This promotes straighter wrist placement, thus preventing carpal tunnel syndrome.
8) Ensure adequate lighting
Make sure that you have adequate lighting. An adjustable desk lamp can help keep light focused directly on files you are reading or copying. Adjust your monitors or laptop to minimize reflected glare from workspace lights.
9) Always follow the 20/20/20 rule
To prevent eye strain while working on your computer, always follow the 20/20/20 rule. After working for 20 minutes, turn away from your computer screen. Look at any object that is 20 feet away for a period of 20 seconds.
10) Take frequent short breaks
Because WFH causes you to work for a much longer period of time, you should take frequent short breaks. You can apply the Pomodoro technique to your breaks.
After working non-stop for 25 to 30 minutes, take a 5 to 10-minute break to stand up and stretch your legs. You can also go outside to breathe in some fresh air.
Make it a point to observe these 10 best ergonomic practices for a much improved and healthier WFH experience.
If you’re looking for other resources on working from home, be sure to check out our Complete Guide To Working From Home to get you started!