Since lockdown in March, working from home (WFH) has become the default, and for many of us, it is here to stay. A recent survey recorded that only 34% of those working from home have returned to the office, with many companies actively choosing to keep WFH as a permanent option.
From the make-shift kitchen table study to the lazy sofa set-up, the home office is now a crucial part of the working day.
Making this space as efficient and ergonomic as possible is not only vital for your work performance, but also your mental health.
What are the key pitfalls to avoid when working from home?
Adapting to this way of working, with the notion that it would be a temporary situation, it is not a surprise that many of us have fallen into having a set up at home that’s giving us pain.
Setting aside what not to do can help you to establish a healthier working environment.
- Don’t resort to the sofa or your bed (as tempting as it is). Keeping a clear demarcation between ‘work’ and ‘relax’ spaces is essential for optimal working conditions, as well as for your sanity. If you’re in a multi-use area, such as the kitchen or dining room, assign a work drawer or box where you can clear everything away at the end of the day.
- Don’t stay in your pyjamas (unless you find this to be unusually motivating). That’s not to suggest you need to wear heels or a suit, but getting ready in the morning can help to distinguish further your ‘work’ and ‘home’ mindsets.
- Don’t stay inside the whole day. Daylight, Vitamin D and exercise are fundamental to helping us feel good. Something as simple as taking a walk around the block as your daily ‘commute’, can help to stimulate and refresh your body and mind.
- Don’t be tempted to change your working hours, staying at your computer late into the evening. Try and mimic the timings of your ‘normal’ working hour as closely as possible – and that includes taking a decent break for lunch.
How can I make my home office space as ergonomic as possible?
Ergonomics is all about how your environment can be designed around you for maximum comfort, efficiency and safety. Here’s how to set up your working space to be as ergonomic as possible:
- Choose a space in your home that offers as much privacy as possible, with the most natural light, and adequate access to power and internet.
- Make sure you are sitting upright on a chair with back support, with your feet flat on the floor. Your elbows should be at 90 degrees and in reach of your keyboard. If possible, use an adjustable chair so that you can ensure the correct height and tilt to fit your desk.
- Consider other equipment such as a sit-stand desk, lightboxes, wrist rests and lumbar supports, all of which can significantly increase your desk ergonomics.
- Your computer monitor should be at eye-level – if you’re not using a desktop computer, a laptop stand is essential.
Why are Laptop stands so important? And what is the best fit for me?
A laptop on its own won’t fit the dual ergonomic specification for an eye-level screen, with a straight back and shoulders. To avoid neck and back pain, we recommend using a laptop stand with a separate keyboard.
With hundreds of options available, here’s what to look out for to find the one for you:
- If your work requires travelling or freelancing, a compact, foldable stand is the one for you. Lightweight and portable, it collapses down to fit in your bag and re-opens for use wherever you need it.
- If your laptop struggles with overheating from long hours or high processing, a cooling stand will work wonders.
- If you’re alternating between standing and sitting, a height-adjustable folding stand is a must. With extendable legs and adjustable angles, there’s no excuse for bad posture!
- If a sleek design is essential to you, various minimalist stands will effortlessly fit into your working space, most at affordable prices.
Adapting your home office with these small but essential changes can greatly reduce the risk of back, neck and wrist pain, as well as giving you a work environment that within your home.
If your home office is giving you neck, shoulder or back pain, book an appointment with one our Osteopaths. We’ll be able to tell you what’s happening and give you an exercise plan to help it get better.