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4 Essential Ergonomic Recommendations for Work-from-Home Employees

30 May 2024

Ergonomics has primarily been associated with a workplace setting. Whether it's a manufacturing unit or an office-based setting, implementing ergonomic practices ensures that your health and well-being aren't compromised because of your workplace dynamics.

However, given the events of the last few years, there has been a major shift in workplace dynamics. Today, millions of employees with office jobs are working from home, and even though the pandemic is over, there's no going back to the conventional workplace.

Interestingly, as more of us work remotely, the importance of good ergonomics when working from home is now becoming increasingly apparent. It is due to the fact that over 40% of the remote workers have reported experiencing lower backache, whereas 23.5% of work-from-home employees reported neck pain.

While there are challenges associated with remote working, the benefits of work-from-home are now proven. Surveys indicate that a majority of employees do not want to go back to the conventional office setup post-pandemic. Since the trend of remote working is here to stay, it's critical that work-from-home employees now take a set forward to set up an ergonomic home-based workstation.

If you're a remote worker who doesn't have an ergonomic at-home work set up yet, here are four essential ergonomic recommendations for you so you can make the most of your at-home working experience.

Ergonomics for Home-Based Work Setups: Why It Matters

Ergonomics in a working environment refers to optimizing how we work. It focuses on physical anatomy and physiological needs and combines the elements of data and engineering to better support the body. In turn, the application of ergonomic principles at the workplace aid in enhancing the physical and mental well-being of employees while improving their productivity.

Hence, the understanding and application of ergonomics are critical regardless of your physical working space. Whether you are working at home or in the office, applying ergonomic principles optimizes your health and performance at work.

Working at home and your home office isn't optimized can lead to several physical health concerns such as backache and neck pain. Untreated and chronic aches and pains contribute to mental health issues such as stress and depression and negatively affect how you feel and behave.

Implementation of good ergonomic principles ultimately ensures maximum comfort and safety, which helps you stay pain-free and enjoy better efficiency and productivity at work.

4 Essential Ergonomic Recommendations for Work-from-Home Employees

Setting up an ergonomically optimized workstation at home will take some time and effort on your end. However, the returns you can expect out of this investment totally make it a worthy choice.

Setting up an ergonomic workstation at home revolves around keeping your body in a neutral position. And unlike what most people may think, a neutral body position isn't a perfectly straight position. It means that the natural curved shape of your spine is maintained. Moreover, your body should be such that most of your major joints, including your arms and legs, make a right angle with the floor or the corresponding joints.

Whether you stand or sit for long periods, maintaining a neutral posture is critical as it minimizes the work for your spine, and your muscles don't have to work much harder.

Wondering how you can maintain a neutral position? Here are a few recommendations to keep your body ergonomically optimized.

#1. Adjust Your Desk

An ergonomic work setup that allows you to maintain a neutral body position starts with your desk. Many remote workers today are using a desk for working at home. However, it's often different from the desk you should be working on. Some work-from-home employees work on a dining table, while others choose kitchen counters, folding tables, or coffee tables in the living room.

Unfortunately, none of this makes the right choice and will sooner or later contribute to posture problems.

If you want to set up an ergonomic workstation for your remote work, ensure that you choose a desk that fits your knees, feet, and thighs comfortably underneath. Your desk should be such that your knees don't hit against any other surface, nor should you feel the need to press your legs together.

Moreover, the height of your desk should be such that your feet should be firmly placed on the ground. Furthermore, the height of your desk should allow you to comfortably place your elbow at a right angle on your desk while you are seated.

While some desks allow you to adjust their height, not all desks are adjustable. So if you intend to get a fixed desk for your work-from-home setup, ensure that you check the desk multiple times before you finally make a choice and get the most appropriate desk for your remote work setup.

#2. Get Your Computer Set up Appropriately

Once you have a workstation, you can now set up all your essential workplace accessories like a computer or laptop.

While using a laptop gives you portability, it doesn't provide you with the ergonomic support you need. The main concern with a laptop is that the attached keyboard and screen are not ergonomically designed, which can lead to aches and pains if you use a laptop for a prolonged period.

Fortunately, you can try out several things to improve laptop ergonomics, such as getting yourself a separate screen, keyboard, or mouse, so you don't injure yourself.

Fix Your Screen's Position

Depending on how many screens you use, you need to ensure that your monitor is placed.

Slightly below your eye level,

Straight in line with your neck,

At least an arm's length away from you,

Slightly tilted, making an angle of 100-110 degree and

Away from direct light.

Moreover, the placement of your screen will also be impacted by how many screens you intend to use.

For a single screen, place it in the center in front of you, and

For multiple screens, the screens should be lined up side by side without a gap,

Optimize Your Keyboard's Placement

One of the most overlooked aspects of work-from-home ergonomics is the placement of your keyboard,

If you regularly work on a laptop, you should ideally invest in a separate ergonomic keyboard. Moreover, you should also ensure that you place the keyboard at elbow height. Furthermore, as you type on the keyboard, your wrists should remain straight, and your upper arms must be as close to your body as they can conveniently be.

With the appropriate height and adjustment of the keyboard at a proper distance, you promote better hand and wrist position and health.

Don't Forget About the Placement of Your Mouse

Again, it's best for your body to use a mouse that's separate from the attached touchpad on your laptop. Moreover, you should place your mouse near the keyboard so it's easy to reach without overstretching any part of your body.

#3. Beware of How You Sit

If you have been sitting on your couch, dining table chair, or kitchen stool, now is the time to make the change.

Work-from-home employees need to ensure that they maintain a proper posture while sitting, and it's only achievable if you use an adjustable office chair.

Choose an ergonomic office chair that provides support to your spine's natural S-shape. Moreover, your chair should be adjusted to a height such that it allows you to sit with your thighs parallel to the floor and your feet placed firmly on the ground.

Once you adjust the height of the chair, ensure that the armrests allow you to position your arms at the right height and angle for the use of a keyboard and mouse.

#4. Sit – Stand – Move

While many of you may not consider it an essential ergonomic recommendation, it's important that you schedule short breaks throughout your workday.

If your job requires you to spend long hours at your home-based desk, get up and get moving. Ideally, for 30 minutes, it's best to sit for 20 minutes, followed by 2 minutes of standing and 8 minutes of movement. While it may not always be possible to take a break once every 20-30 minutes, make sure you do it whenever it's convenient for you.

Working Remotely – Ergonomically!

Sure, working in the comfort of your home on your couch may seem like a dream. But it's not in your best interest.

If you continue to work in a home-based work setup that isn't ergonomically designed, you may end up with aches and pains that will only continue to increase over time.

Hence, it's critical that you take out some time to carefully consider your home-office ergonomics when working remotely so you can enjoy better health and well-being along with improved productivity at work.