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Ergonomics Dos and Don'ts of Working from Home – A Complete Guide

24 March 2023

Despite working from home for several months or even years, some of us may not try to emulate an office-like experience when working in terms of our setup and environment. Sometimes, that may not have much effect on us (for example, if we work for only a couple of hours a day), but it can compromise our efficiency in the long term. That's where practicing good workplace ergonomics can significantly improve our productivity, efficiency, and overall performance at our work. Therefore, this article is a complete guide on ergonomics dos and don'ts of working from home.

This guide can show you how you can finish your work faster, making more time for other important things in your life while simultaneously improving the quality of your work, which can benefit you in terms of client satisfaction and potentially achieving promotions.

Understanding Ergonomics

Before we proceed further into our guide, it's crucial that you have a good understanding of what workplace ergonomics is and why it's important. Ergonomics is the practice of setting up your work area in a way that you can maximize efficiency. At the same time, you also help reduce the risk of pain and injury with your working position, which also contributes to better comfort when working.

With less risk of strain in specific areas of your body, such as your back and neck, you can also remain focused on your work. Therefore, good ergonomics not only helps you work better but also helps you stay fitter in the long term.

Ergonomics Dos and Don'ts for Working from Home

We'll begin with the dos first, explaining what you should do to improve workplace ergonomics. After that, we'll explain what you shouldn't do so that you can get more out of each working shift. With that said, let's get into the ergonomics dos and don'ts of working from home.



Do: Sit with the Correct Posture

This tip sits at the top of our guide on ergonomics dos and don'ts of working from home for good reason. It helps you work more efficiently and helps you protect your body from pain and injury. There are multiple aspects to maintaining the correct posture, so we'll provide a quick overview of the most important ones.

Make sure that your feet are touching the ground when you sit on your ergonomic office chair—your feet should not be dangling your toes shouldn't be the only part of your feet touching the floor.

Do not sit with one leg on top of the other, and allow both thighs to rest on your seat.

Make sure that your thighs are almost parallel to the floor, with your knees at the same level as your hips.

Sit back fully into your seat, allowing your lower back to rest against your seat's backrest.

Make sure that you sit upright without rounding your shoulders.

Ensure that your forearms are almost parallel to the floor, with your wrists relatively straight when using your mouse and keyboard.

Keep your head straight, with your neck in line with your back. You should adjust your screen's height to help with that. The ideal height is for the upper half of your screen to be at eye level.



Do: Take Frequent Breaks

We cannot stress how crucial it is for you to make it a practice to take frequent breaks when working. We understand that you may not always be able to take long breaks when working, but there are three types of breaks you should still take.

These breaks won't take much of your time, allowing you to continue working with minimal effect on your overall pace. In fact, you are likely to increase your overall working speed by taking these breaks because they'll allow you to feel better and more refreshed, allowing you to remain focused whenever you're working.

The First Break

Take this after every 20 minutes of looking at your screen, twice an hour. You don't need to get off your seat. Instead, look at any object that is 20 feet away from you, at the very least. Look at it for 20 seconds only, and then resume your work. This is the 20/20/20 rule, and it can help you significantly reduce eye strain.

The Second Break

Take this once an hour after 30 minutes. This break is focused on helping you limit stress on your lower back and spine after being seated at a desk for long periods. Sitting all day can be dangerous to your health, so doing these small stretches can help reduce the negative effects of sitting for so long. So, all you need to do is stand up and press your palms against your glutes tightly. Next, push your body forward so that your head is behind your glutes.

The Third Break

This break is the one in which you'll actually need to move around a bit to help you divert your focus for a bit so that you can return to work feeling relatively fresher than before. So, take this break after every 50 minutes. Make sure to get off your seat and walk around your room or the entire home. If you live with family or roommates, consider matching your break times so that you can have social interaction during these moments. You can also share some ideas with them if that’s possible.



Do: Organize Your Workspace

An organized workspace can help eliminate stress and allow you to work faster because you'll be able to find things more quickly when they are organized than when everything is cluttered. It's best to limit the number of items on your home office desk. Only place essential items, and put the rest in a drawer, pegboard, or another storage device. In addition to that, consider using cable management systems to help limit clutter from your wires.

A neater workspace can affect your mood and approach to your workspace, allowing you to work better when working at home.



Do: Keep Yourself Hydrated

It's a good idea to keep a reusable water bottle near you when you're working. That way, you can continue to hydrate yourself while working without needing to get off your seat to do so. Hydrating yourself will give your body the resources it needs to work at optimal efficiency and productivity. So, don't forget to keep refilling your bottle.



Do: Take Your Full Lunch Break

Make sure that you take your full lunch break, allowing yourself to refuel yourself and spend some time focusing on something other than your work. Many professionals working from home sometimes ignore their lunch break to simply keep working, but that can be detrimental to your health and work performance in the long term.

It's best to take your lunch break away from your home office desk to help you get away from your work for about an hour.



Don't Work Beyond Your Shift

One of the most common things that professionals struggle with when working from home is that they struggle to find the right work-life balance. With their office at their home, they may spend more time working than they normally would when they work at an office. Doing that can take a toll on other aspects of your life, which can also compromise your productivity at work.

So, make it a point to create a separate workspace that you don't use for work once your shift ends. There are other vital things you should focus on instead, like family, creative projects, and so on.



Don't Work from Your Bed or Couch

As mentioned above in our guide on ergonomics dos and don'ts of working from home, we mentioned the importance of good posture. Working from your bed or couch is most likely going to prevent you from sitting with the ideal posture, so try to avoid it at all costs. Instead, sit on an ergonomic office chair in front of a desk.



Don't Ignore Any Pain in Your Body

Working at a desk for several hours a day can lead to pains in your body, specifically in your back, neck, arms, and shoulders. So, don't try to work through that pain. Instead, take a break and give those parts of your body rest. If the pain persists, make it a point to visit your doctor as soon as possible. Addressing pain quickly may help you recover from injury relatively more quickly.

Final Thoughts

This complete guide on ergonomics dos and don'ts of working from home shows you how you can make working from home just as effective as working at an office. As long as you take some time to set up your home office into a great work area, you can make great strides in improving your work performance and your overall comfort when working from home.