Work-from-Home Ergonomics: A Set-up for Success!

Happy Wellness Wednesday!

Wellness Wednesday emails are designed to provide you with simple tools, information, and resources to encourage positive and healthy lifestyle choices. As a proud recipient of The Healthy Arizona Worksite Award, The Be Kind People Project is committed to the health and wellness of their employees, friends, and family.

Working from Home Ergonomics

Over the last year, many of us have unexpectedly transitioned to working within the comfort of our own home. Although we thought this would be temporary, remote work is likely to be a long-term reality.

Therefore, we’d like to explore work-from-home ergonomics to transform your improvised workstation into a longstanding remote office that supports your health, well-being, and professional success!

The Importance of Ergonomics

Ergonomics is all about arranging your workspace to ensure efficiency and safety. You may be thinking, “I don’t need anything more than a surface for my computer and somewhere to sit.” However, those 8+ stationery hours a day take a toll on your body.

Picture this: You’re sitting at your desk typing away and then feel pain in your neck or back. Your attention immediately shifts from completing your task to alleviating that pain – decreasing your productivity and health.

Having an ergonomically optimized workplace protects your body from injury or recurring pain and enables you to focus on tasks to maximize productivity. It’s vital to support your body with the proper equipment for your long-term health – we even included some DIY hacks to transform your workspace!

Step 1: Take a Seat

Wherever you are seated (or standing), you should be able to maintain a neutral spine. Contrary to popular belief, a neutral spine is not straight – it’s a natural curved S-shape. The top part near your neck curves inward. The middle part of your spine curves outwards, and your low back curves inward.

Whether you prefer to stand or sit during the workday, this is the ideal position for your spine. It requires less energy to maintain and is easier on your muscles.

Take Note:

  • Feet should be flat on the floor
  • Sit evenly on your bottom – avoid tilting to one side or another
  • Thighs should be parallel to the floor
  • Knees at about hip height

DIY Hacks: If your feet are unable to reach the floor while seated, get creative and wear flat-heeled shoes (foot support is a plus!), use a footrest, step stool, or even a pile of books to reach the perfect sitting posture.

If you lack lower back support, try a rolled-up towel or a small pillow on the small of your back.

Step 2: Next is the Desk

Given the unusual nature of many work-from-home situations, many people are getting creative with their “desk” – a dining room table, TV tray, folding table, their lap on the couch, etc. Whatever you use as a desk right now, make sure it is not causing posture problems.

Ideally, your desk should fit your knees, feet, and thighs comfortably underneath. You shouldn’t feel that you have to squeeze your legs together, and your knees shouldn’t press up against anything.

Now, let’s get the height right. No matter what surface you choose for your “desk,” your keyboard and mouse should be at elbow height when seated. Hold your elbows at your sides, now put out your arms slightly in front of your body as if you were typing. That is the proper height for the top of your work surface!

DIY Hack: If you don’t have an adjustable desk or are improvising a “desk,” try using books or a sturdy box to raise your work surface up. If your “desk” is too high, adjust your chair up or try sitting on a pillow.

Your Work-from-Home Zone

Although working from the couch seems like a dream, you will shortly be fighting the aches and pain of poor posture and lack of ergonomics.

Carefully consider your work-from-home setup – your body (and your boss) will thank you later!

Published on March 24, 2021

By: Ashley McCarty, School Wellness Programs & Events Intern

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