Home Office Workstation - Ergonomically Correct?
Is your Home Office Workspace Ergonomically Correct?
Home Office Workspace has taken on an entirely different meaning these days….
Now that many of us are working from home, I’ve heard from friends and family that they are using things like the dining room table for the home office workspace.
Even if we don’t have the best home office situation, you need to be aware of ergonomics. What does that mean? It means if you are sitting with your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, or anything else and you are not sitting properly, it can start to cause strain on your joints and muscles and can eventually lead to injuries.
Here are 8 tips on workspace setup to help you maintain your postural health and work from home, or even when you return to your office, more comfortably.
1) Adjust Chair Height
Adjust your chair height so that your feet are flat on the floor with your thighs parallel to the ground and knees at a 90 degree angle.
An approximation of the correct height can be found by standing facing your chair and raising the seat-pan to just below your kneecaps. If you are too short to have your fee flat on the floor you should place a foot rest under your feet and adjust the chair properly from there.
2) Set Chair Depth
Next is setting the chair depth. The proper distance should be three fingers between the back of your legs and the chair. In other words, don’t have a large portion of your legs off of the chair, but don’t go too extreme and have the backs of your knees touching the seat pan of the chair. The back of your knees should fall 2 inches from the end of the seat-pan.
This arrangement should also allow for your shoulders to remain directly parallel with your body – elbows and shoulders should touch your body – if your elbows are in front of your body, even the slightest, you are putting strain on your shoulders. Remember the 90 degrees with each body part.
3) Align Back Rest
It should press comfortably against your back and follow the curves of your back.
If your chair will not adjust to the proper setting, you can use a towel or pillow to make it fit better.
4) Set Arm Rests
This next one may not apply if you don’t have arm rests on your chair. However, with or without arm rests, your elbows should form a 90 degree angle with your hands on your keyboard.
5) Flatten Keyboard
Keep your wrists straight!
If there is a setting that lefts the backs of the keyboard, do NOT extend it. This puts strain on your wrists, lifting the fingers above the wrists so that they are at an angle can easily lead to carpal tunnel.
6) Place Mouse near Keyboard
Your mouse should be right next to your keyboard. If it is farther away, it can cause you to stretch your shoulders out while using it, putting strain on your shoulders.
Do not use a wrist rest on a mouse pad. Although it may seem like a good idea, it has been shown to increase a person’s risk of carpal tunnel. Again, it’s all about keeping your wrists in a straight alignment and much like the keyboard legs, it can place your wrists at an angle, causing strain.
7) Adjust Monitor Height
Place the monitor so that the entire screen sits below eye level. Viewing distance should be 19-24 inches. The average computer is designed for someone the size of the typical 25 year old man. It is likely that your are not this exact, “ideal” size.. So make necessary adjustments.
If you are working at home in a make-shift desk, use a box to lift up the monitor so that you are not straining your neck all day. I know this is a tough one with company providing laptop computers that are all encompassed into one unit. So, I recommend finding an external keyboard and/or monitor to make one or the other adjusted so that it goes along with these guidelines.
8) Arrange items within Reach
(Phone, Mouse, Notebook, Pens, etc.)
And last on my list, but certainly not least, is #8 – Arrange items so that they are all within reach. Remember I said it’s all about putting strain on shoulders, elbows, and wrists?
Well, imagine if your phone – that you reach for often – is even just a foot away – this means that you will be reaching with your shoulders to answer it – the closer, the better, and the less strain on your shoulders. Use this concept for everything you use during our work day. Items you use regularly should be kept items reach.
I have one BONUS tip that no matter what you were able to adjust from the list I provided, everyone can do – that’s Stand Up every 30-60 minutes. Working at home, especially, I feel like you lose track of time. Giving our body a break and moving your muscles, getting away from your desk, monitor, and sitting position, can really help break up any strain that you possibly have been putting on your body.
Set an alarm if you have to – or if you have meetings that last 30 or 60 minutes each, make it a habit to get up, stretch and walk around even if only for 1-2 minutes – a little bit with this one can go a LONG way!
And as an EXTRA BONUS – if you can afford it, buy a standing desktop or one that sits on your table or desk and adjusts so that you can work with it while standing. CLICK HERE for one we’ve used at previous companies where I worked. People love these and it gives you the flexibility to stand while working so that you don’t have the other strain on your body with the sitting position. It also allows you to do both – this is perfect for at home workspaces because it doesn’t require anything but placing it on the flat surface you are using for your desk.
Keep it Simple and Keep it Safe!