Just because you work from home doesn't mean you should neglect your health and safety. Having things like a proper chair to sit on, correct lighting, desk height and proper keyboard set up can have a huge impact on your health and productivity.
Here are some steps you can take to improve the ergonomic set up of your home office.
Move away from the kitchen table
If the kitchen table has been where you've been doing most of your work, you need to stop now. It’s likely that the table isn’t the right height for you, there’s probably very little space, you’re probably reaching for things, the lighting is likely not sufficient and there’s probably a lot of surrounding noise. Consider setting up a separate office if you can, a space where you can set things up specifically for you.
When setting up a home office, ensure there are window coverings so you can reduce the glare on your computer screen during the day. If you have trouble eliminating glare off your computer screen, you can purchase anti-glare covers to reduce the effect. In addition to overhead lighting (fluorescent tubes are best) it’s also a good idea to have a task light on your desk so that you can focus the light towards a document you are working on.
Get rid of the clutter and place the things you need regularly like a phone, notepad and pen in a place where you don't have to overreach, it should be within comfortable arms reach.
Your chair should be at a height so that your feet can be comfortably placed flat on the floor. Make sure your upper and lower back is supported and ensure that armrests on your chair don't inhibit you from getting closer. This is why working at the kitchen table is not a good idea because dining chairs don’t offer the support an office chair does.
When purchasing an office chair ensure it has a separately adjustable backrest which allows you to move it forward into the small of your back and adjusting it vertically to suit your trunk length. The chair should also be short enough so you have full back support without the front edge of the seat pushing into the back of your legs. To ensure stability, look for a chair that has a five-star base, it should have a curved front and nicely padded so you don’t feel the seat base. If you can feel the seat base, it’s time to get a new chair!
Photo: Sebagee, Pixabay
Your keyboard should be located nice and close in front of your body, you shouldn't have to reach or have your arms outstretched when typing. When your keyboard is in the ideal position, your shoulders should be relaxed and elbows slightly open. Utilise the keyboard tilt legs to place your keyboard in a comfortable position.
Your computer screen should always be directly in front of you, you shouldn’t have to turn your head to look at the screen. When sitting at your computer, the top of your screen should be approximately 2 to 3 inches above eye level and you should sit at least an arm’s length away from your screen. As mentioned in lighting, try to place your screen in a position where it receives the least amount of glare. To reduce neck strain, place the documents you are typing from directly in front of you and if this isn't possible, use a document holder.
Most of these things you can do without spending a lot of money, it’s just a matter of rearranging your home office. It’s better to take an hour to make some minor adjustments than a lifetime of pains and strains!