Working from home has become and continues to be how many people are working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of those are lucky enough to have a proper work from home set up and dedicated office space, but a majority are setting up workstations wherever they fit. Whether it’s the dining room table, a coffee table or your lap, people across the province are having to adjust their home lives to accommodate work arrangements.
While working from home does have its benefits, an improper work set up can take a toll on your body. To help combat the aches and pains which can lead to chronic pain and other associated injuries, being familiar with the ergonomic principles may help reduce the impact of work-related injuries.
If you don’t want to visit the doctor for eventual musculoskeletal disorders, implement the following workstation set up guidelines outlined by Ergo Consulting.
Establish an appropriate work location
Having a dedicated workspace is important. If you’re new to working from home, there are a few things to consider when choosing your work spot. Try finding a spot where the table is between 27-29” high. Tables higher than this run you the risk of neck and shoulder pain or discomfort. Having a space with minimal distractions is also important. If you’re looking after young children while attempting to work at home, consider creating a daily routine for them. During the times you need to be the most productive or have conference calls, schedule quiet time for reading or think about putting a movie or TV show on.
Get the best chair
In a perfect world, everyone would have fully adjustable office chairs. For the majority of people that don’t, choose a chair that provides back support, allows you to sit upright and supports your upper body weight on the backrest. You should be seated so your elbow height is as close to level with your work surface as possible.
Get a footrest
Sit down, look at your legs. Your thighs specifically. You should be seated so your thighs are parallel with the floor and your feet firmly planted on the ground. There is a good possibility if you’re of average height or shorter, that you’ll benefit from a footrest.
Use external hardware
According to the Office Ergonomics Application Standard for Workplace Ergonomics, laptops shouldn’t be used for prolonged computer entry. The exception being a laptop that is hooked up to a docking station or other external devices. Laptops can put additional strain on your neck because the monitor height isn’t high enough. If you must use a laptop it’s recommended that it be raised/elevated, so the screen becomes level with your eye height. This can be achieved by placing the laptop on a stack of books or by using a monitor riser. An external mouse and keyboard are also beneficial and positioned at elbow height on the same surface.
Getting up and moving around every 30-60 minutes to stretch or walk around is good for your ergonomic health. It should be done even more frequently the less “ideal” your workstation set up is. Standing around and pacing while you’re on a conference call or creating your own stand up desk by putting your computer on a filing cabinet or counter (for short periods of time) are a couple of ways of getting up, moving around and changing your posture.
Anyone new to working from home can tell you it can be isolating. Especially if you’re someone who enjoys the social atmosphere that an office environment brings. Make a point of calling colleagues for larger issues rather than writing a lengthy email; video conferencing is another popular option. Most importantly, get outside. Give yourself a reason to get dressed and schedule yourself a daily walk around the neighbourhood. The fresh air will do you wonders!
For anyone working from home, make sure you are following the ergonomic principles to reduce potential injury. Neck, back and shoulder pain can start as just that but can quickly become chronic pain. Call an experienced lawyer like the ones at Dye and Russell Personal Injury Lawyers if you or someone you know is experiencing pain due to a poor workstation set up.