Everybody must get used to the new normal, but many find working from home challenging and complex. One reason why it’s hard for them to adapt to working at home is the lack of ergonomic and dedicated office space to carry out their day. It means to say that in a residential setting, people don’t have their own space to accommodate an ergonomic style office with the proper furniture. If you work from home, you are using your laptop on a regular table or kitchen countertop. Some work on their bed or in a lounge. Wherever it is at home, chances are you are not in a healthy posture.
If you will be doing this for a short period, there’s no need to worry. But the weeks or months of working from home because of the pandemic, you can put your back in a bad situation if not properly advised. Even after the pandemic has passed, working from home seems to be the new normal for most workers everywhere.
Many companies these days learn that specific works or jobs do not require in-office presence, unlike before. So, if you are already feeling the physical strain of remote working, you are not alone. If you do not invest in an ergonomic office design, you are potentially risking debilitating musculoskeletal injuries like back pain, sore neck, shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome. You may even acquire uncomfortable vein thrombosis, a condition that blood clots form in the veins of your body.
So, what can you do about it? As much as possible, spend working in a comfortable body position and neutral posture, where no part of your body is awkwardly twisted or bent. Ensure that you can periodically move around to develop circulation. While it can be a pain in your job, it is also causing literal pains in your back, eyes, and neck. Fortunately, there is available work-from-home advice to help you prosper in your makeshift office space.
- Does your job require you to read several documents? Ensure that you are not reading them from a flat surface because it hangs down your neck, which is very unhealthy to your spine and muscles. If you are dealing with lots of documents or using a tablet for viewing, invest and buy a vertical document holder. Or if you have an old music stand, that would do the trick as well.
- Sit on your chair with your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Yes, it’s always tempting to work on a comfortable couch, but your back is at risk, and you won’t like the struggle after doing it. In case your feet don’t reach the ground when you are sitting back in your chair, you can grab some books and put them under your feet as support.
- Standing desks may be popular but use them in moderation. Do you know the reason why? Standing puts a lot of strain and stress on the circulatory system and the legs and feet than sitting does. The best choice is to do it alternatively, like use your chair for an hour, then the standing desk for another hour.
- Trench the mouse pad with the comfy wrist rest. To have anything under the wrist can add compression to your median nerves. It might look like that it’s not providing support, but it can help on the finger flexor tendons and prevent the risk of having carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Ensure your monitor or screen is set up perpendicular to the window. It helps lessen the glare from the light and reduce visual eye strain. To reduce the chances of visible eye strain from partial retinal adaptation or glare, do not work with your back to the window. The light coming inside will cause a glow on your monitor. On the other hand, do not work facing the window because you are most likely staring into the light. Unless the window has drapes or shades that you can close anytime, if you’re working at a glass table, make sure to cover the glass part to avoid reflected glare.
- Place your keyboard, mouse, and touchpad in front of you at a comfortable height. If your laptop has been raised to place your screen at the right level, use a separate keyboard and mouse. Ensure that you can use the keyboard and mouse comfortably with your hands and forearms straight and level. Also, your arm must be closed to both sides of your body when you are using the mouse. The nerves in your hands leave the neck and run down through your shoulders, elbows, and wrist. The more you stretch it out to your side, the bigger chance you will get a straining neck and shoulder.
- Minimize the time you work on your bed. The bed is even worse to use than working than a chair. You sit on the side of your bed while your legs are extended or crossed horizontally to support the laptop. That is too low for viewing the screen, and you will have to hunch over. If your bed is your only option, at least try to place a pillow behind your back so it can rest against the headboard. Also, put your laptop on a cushion while in your lap. Or you can get a low table for your computer to go over both your legs, so you can type comfortably at a proper height level without straining your neck.
Dealing with your back pain, headaches, and neck tension that you can’t seem to kick to the curb, can be challenging, but there are health experts and professionals, including chiropractors, who can help you resolve your pain issues. They are trained enough to assess your situation and give you the right option to correct the body pain you are experiencing right now.
Also, follow these tips and advice to make your home office design more ergonomically-friendly. The more you can work in a comfortable position, the more you can be productive at work, and the less the chance of getting an injury.