We are now several weeks into a pandemic (something none of us has ever seen in our lifetime) and none of us know how long this will last. One thing that needs your attention is your home office. It’s vital to create a set up that won’t leave you feeling like you need your chiropractor, because although chiropractic is considered an essential business, there are varying degrees comfort as we consider returning to business as usual. Which means a lot of folks might hurt themselves and not have a way to get the help they need.
Fun fact; the number of Americans who worked from home pre-covid was around 3.6%.
Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics predicts, “Our best estimate is that 25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.”
That’s a huge increase and we need to act now to prevent further stress on the body. If you are like most, you’ve converted a spare bedroom or dining table into a make-shift office. As a health-care provider, particularly one that focuses on postural disorders of the spine, I’m most concerned about those who are using poor ergonomics in an environment that is more stressful than usual.
Tania Lillak of Ergonomics Essentials (www.elementalergonomics.com) put together her short list of ways that you can improve your work space at home.
Top 5 Ergonomics Tips for the Home Office
- Avoid using your laptop as a laptop: When you use a laptop, your screen will always be too low and your keyboard too high. It’s best to plug in an external keyboard and mouse to your laptop, and raise your laptop off your desk or table with books, boxes, or whatever you can find. Aim for the top of the screen being level with your eyes to reduce neck strain.
- Invest in an office chair (or be creative with pillows and towels!): Sitting in dining chairs with no adjustability can wreak havoc on your back. If you have the means, it’s best to purchase an ergonomic office chair with lumbar support, seat pan depth adjustment, and height adjustable armrests. If you need to make due with your dining chair, place a use a small, rolled up hand towel at your lower back to reduce lower back strain. You can also use a pillow on your seat to increase comfort.
- Get proper keyboard and mouse height: Ideally you would have a keyboard and mouse tray or a height adjustable desk for achieving proper keyboard and mouse height. Proper height is where your arms are hanging loosely at your sides, elbows are at 90 degrees of flexion, and forearms are parallel to the ground. If you do not have a height adjustable chair, place a pillow on your seat to raise you up. Use a small stool or box as a footrest to take pressure off your legs.
- Check your lighting: Windows, although nice to have, can cause glare and too much brightness for computer work. You should try to place your screen perpendicular to your window – not in front or you or behind you as this can cause strain to the eyes. If you can’t reposition your computer, be sure to lower the blinds or draw the curtains to reduce glare.
- Move more: When you are working from home, your setup is usually less-than-ideal putting you at extra risk for strain to your body. To combat these effects, it’s important to move more and change your working positions often. Try these tips: walk around your home for 1 min every hour, stand up and stretch for 20s every 20 min, stand at a counter and work on your laptop for 15 min 1-2x a day, sit on your sofa or bed with your laptop for 15 min 1-2x a day, and finally, fidget and move around in your chair frequently. All of this movement increases blood flow which is essential to a happy, healthy body.
If you need extra help Tania is offering virtual evaluations and seminars for home offices.