Remote work has become the “new normal” for many employees throughout the COVID-19 crisis. While our work environments have changed, the dangers of an aching body still loom. Poor posture and uncomfortable furniture can hurt your neck, back, arms, or other parts of your body. But with an ergonomic home office, you and your joints will feel comfortable while you work.
To make your remote workplace comfier and safer for your body, read on for some helpful home office ergonomic tips.
Create Your Ergonomic Home Office Setup
Adjust Your Chair & Desk
Adjusting your chair is a must if your home doesn’t have an adjustable surface. With an office chair, you’d want it at a height that lets your thighs align with the ground. Plus, you’d want your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
However, your chair’s height can change your feet’s position while sitting. We recommend placing your feet on a footstool or footrest with the same height as your chair.
On the other hand, most desks and tables have a suitable height for tall people. Your desk won’t need a height change if you’re on the tall side. Otherwise, you’d want the desk at a lower height. But if your desk has a fixed height, you can raise it with stable boards or blocks. Increasing your chair’s height might work, as well.
Your desk’s clearance is also important. Don’t forget to check if your knees, thighs, and feet fit in that space. And to keep your wrists from hurting, cushion your desk’s hard edges or use a wrist rest.
Put Your Computer at Eye Level
Working on your computer for hours can hurt your body, especially if it isn’t in the proper position. Ideally, your monitor or laptop should be an arm’s length from you. And when it comes to viewing distance, you should put your computer at eye level. This should help keep neck aches at bay.
But if your computer is too low, you can place it over one or two books to put it at eye level. You can also have your monitor go one to two inches lower if you’re wearing bifocals.
Use Your Keyboard & Mouse Properly
Trying to avoid repetitive stress disorder? Use your keyboard and mouse properly. Make sure you’re doing the following steps as you type or click:
- Straighten your wrists.
- Keep your upper arms close to your body.
- Keep your hands at elbow level or lower them a bit.
Keyboard shortcuts can also save you from a repetitive injury. With these shortcuts, you won’t have to use your mouse all the time. You can even adjust your mouse’s sensitivity for a lighter touch. Or if you’re ambidextrous, try using your mouse with your other hand.
Keep Essential Items Close
Reaching for your office supplies can also cause bodily aches and pains. The closer your supplies are, the less reaching you’ll need to do. Keep your mouse within your reach and place it on the same surface as your keyboard. The same goes for your other supplies.
In case you need an item overhead or in an out-of-reach place, it’s better to stand up than to reach for the object while sitting.
Stay Healthy & Comfy While Working From Home
Use Pillows for Extra Height & Lower Back Support
Who says pillows are only for sleeping? You can have them in your home office, too. If you can’t adjust your chair’s height, a sturdy, thick pillow will do the trick. Placing it under your butt will give you more height while you sit. Plus, it gives you the ideal height for your knees to bend at 90 degrees.
A pillow can also help you prevent lower back pain. Of course, pushing your lower back against your chair isn’t necessary. But with a lumbar pillow on your chair’s back, your lower back will get the support it needs.
Improve Your Posture
Poor posture leads to pain and injury. That said, maintaining the right posture while working is important.
To see if you’ve got good posture, sit tall and check whether your upper body is aligned. Your shoulders should be over your hips, with your neck straight and head straight above your neck. Moreover, make sure your shoulders and back stay relaxed. Do this test before and during your shift.
Didn’t pass the posture test? The right one for remote work will help you improve your posture.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor, with your thighs parallel and your knees bent at 90 degrees.
- Bend your elbows at 90 degrees and keep them close to your body.
- Relax your shoulders and put them back.
- Sit all the way back in your chair. Make sure your body is “stacked,” your shoulders are over your hips, and your head is over your shoulders.
Give Your Eyes a Break
We’ve already mentioned that prolonged computer use can hurt your body. But working on your computer may affect your eyes, too. To avoid any issues from staring at a computer screen, give your eyes a break and don’t look at your computer for 20 seconds. Repeat this process regularly while working—your eyes will thank you.
Keep Moving with Simple Exercises
Ensuring you’re not sitting for too long is just as important as working on your sitting position. Simply put, you need to keep your body moving. A little activity is great for avoiding injury and keeping your body in shape.
Your exercises don’t have to be that intense, either. Shaking your muscles or running around your living room will do. Switching up your sitting position and stretching while working can keep you active, too.
Choosing the Best Home Office Equipment
Ergonomic Home Office Chair
Got your eyes on an office chair for your ergonomic home office? Pick one with built-in lower back support that curves with your back. Steelcase’s Gesture chair does the job for you with its LiveBack technology. LiveBack adapts to your body and recreates your spine and neck’s natural movement.
You might also want to consider Steelcase’s Leap Fabric chair for your home office. Like the Gesture, the Leap Fabric features LiveBack technology for back support and comfort.
Ergonomic Home Office Desk
When it comes to desks, you’ll need to look into several factors. After all, you’d want the right desk for you and your home office. Computer type, desk height, legroom, and desk shape are some factors to consider when picking the best home office desk.
If you’re after better computer and keyboard placement, the Sit to Stand Up computer desk is for you. It has a two-tier design, with a hand crank to adjust desk height. Plus, the desk features predrilled holes and loops so that your cords stay organized.
Ergonomic keyboards look different from standard ones. Typically, these keyboards are divided into two, with rotated keys that point down to their lower corners. Additionally, they’ve got an elevated shape thanks to “tenting.” Some keyboards have a curved chassis, while some feature folding feet.
Key depth and arrangement also set ergonomic keyboards apart from the usual keyboards. You might see models with keys in varying depths and places. Plus, ergonomic keyboards will boast well-padded wrist rests. The Logitech Ergo K680 is one keyboard worth considering, with an arched and split design for better typing posture and less muscle strain.
The curves on ergonomic mice conform to your hand’s contour, resulting in less finger strain and joint pain. These devices come in different designs with varying benefits.
With some mice, you’d overextend your finger or thumb. Meanwhile, some mice let you twist your wrist while moving your hand a little. But in the end, your needs will lead you to the best mouse for your ergonomic home office setup.
Logitech’s MX Ergo mouse is a top choice for ergonomic mice. An adjustable hinge lets you set your level of comfort while using the mouse. Furthermore, Logitech claims that the MX Ergo puts 20% less strain on muscles. It’s a great option if you’re after a comfortable, versatile mouse.
Along with a chair, desk, keyboard, and mouse, you might want some ergonomic accessories in your home office. You can start with an ergonomic footrest or footstool that keeps your feet elevated as you work.
The ErgoFoam Adjustable Foot Rest is worth a try—it’s a versatile footrest with adjustable height. Plus, you can turn the footrest into a rocker when you attach an extra piece to it. It’s filled with memory foam, as well.
And to guarantee a well-lit home office, you’d want the right lighting for it. IKEA’s FORSÅ lamp is one option, featuring an adjustable arm and swing. Moreover, the lamp’s light and portable design makes it perfect for lighting setup changes.
You can also look at a freestanding solution like the HAY PC Portable Lamp. A scratch and water-resistant matte finish, highly efficient LED bulb, and rechargeable battery let you place this lamp anywhere you want.