With so many changes occurring lately, many of us have had to adjust to a new workspace: a home office. What was once an occasional occurrence, became much more regular. This has caused so many of us to reevaluate our workspaces to make them work for us without them harming us. While it is not always realistic to expect them to be as nice as the office workspaces that we were accustomed to, we can make small changes that will make a big difference. Let’s looks at some simple solutions and guidelines we can consider:
- Ensure you have appropriate lower back support.
- Adjust chair height to keep your knees at 90 degrees and hips at 90-110 degrees.
- Feet should comfortably reach the floor or use an adjustable footrest.
- If you have armrests, adjust them so that you don’t touch them while typing but can rest your arms periodically between tasks.
- The keyboard and mouse should be positioned at a height that enables the wrists to be straight and minimize contact pressure or awkward postures.
- The keyboard and mouse should be positioned so that elbows can be at a 90-degree angle.
- Position keyboard and armrests to reduce awkward stress on shoulders.
- The keyboard and mouse on your laptop are not optimal.Use an independent keyboard and mouse to help position them appropriately.
- Look away from your screen periodically and remember to blink.
- Make sure you have good lighting and avoid putting screens directly in front of a bright window.
- Keep monitor about 25 inches away or at arm’slength (adjust as needed for corrective lenses).
- Ensure your eyes are level with the top third of the monitor screen. Laptop stands can help with this or attach an external monitor.
- Make sure you are not sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time.
- Get up and move every hour.
- Mix up different tasks periodically to prevent fatigue due to repetition.
- Stretch and move regularly; microbreaks are a great opportunity to remind our joints of their flexibility.
- Get regular meals and drink plenty of water.
- Go ahead and schedule a walk during a break.
The concepts we use to set up our office desk still apply at home. Take a look at this great guide for more ideas:
If you do find that the workspaces you are using at home are not optimal, consider trying different work areas to mix it up so that that one bad posture isn’t being compounded, day after day. The last thing you want to do is settle into one bad system all the time. Keep making small changes to find improvements. The good thing about improving your workspace is that your joints and muscles will often “tell” you if you’ve just made an improvement or not.
These are challenging days, and my hope is that none of you will take them sitting down . . . all day that is.
David Hanson, CSP
Vice President, ASSP – Southern Oregon Chapter
Senior Safety Management Consultant, SAIF Corporation
David has an expertise in building dynamic safety teams and developing high-performing safety cultures. He spent 18 years at Timber Products Company as a Supervisor and Safety Coordinator and facilitated continued certification into Oregon OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP).