With the current situation, most are stuck home working remotely. This article will discuss how you can improve the ergonomics of working from home and remain just as much, if not more productive.
Ergonomics is defined as “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.” So by improving the ergonomics of your home office (or a simple work set up), you can tremendously increase your productivity. At the same time, it helps you to work safely in your home office over a long period.
There are a few ways you can improve the ergonomics while working from home.
- Setting up a home office at a designated place
- Keep your workplace clutter-free
- Choose the correct location for your workplace
- Position your laptop or computer screen correctly
- Position your keyboard and mouse correctly
- Choose a good office chair and watch your posture
- Structure your workday with times to relax
- Physical activity during the day
Read on to understand how you can optimize your workstation and working habits to improve the ergonomics of your home office and make the most of working from home.
Setting up a Home Office at a designated place
First things first; you will never get the work done efficiently if you work from your couch or your bed, tucked away in a dark room. One of the best ways to improve the ergonomics of working from home is to set up a separate and proper home office.
No, it does not have to be a separate room or something elaborate. A simple dedicated desk and chair are all you need to set up your home office (read the article “How To Create A Home Office For Small Spaces – 7 Tips On How To Make It Happen“)
Just plug in your laptop or PC, gather some relevant books and stationery, and you are good to go. Just make sure your workspace is only for your work and not used for anything else, so dine at your dining table, and not at the worktable.
By working from a separate space you associate solely to your work, you will see a stark increase in your productivity.
Next, we will discuss how you can further improve the ergonomics of this home office and your working habits.
Keep your workplace clutter-free
Now that you have an established home office, it is time to elevate it to the next level.
From tweaking the height of your computer screen to keeping the space clutter-free with the Clean Desk philosophy, all these elements add to bad ergonomics, worsening your working experience, and tremendously affect your productivity.
In the article “The Clean Desk Philosophy: Increase The Productivity Of Your Home Office” you can read how to implement this important strategy in your home office.
Here, we will discuss how you should set your essentials up to maximize your efficiency and safety.
Choose the correct location for your workplace
The most important thing about your home office is its location.
- Make sure it is away from any distractions, for example, your TV or entertainment center.
- Make sure that the place is well lit. Allow in as much natural light as you can to light up your workspace, so ideally, building your set up near a window is an excellent option. Use lamps where there is not enough natural light.
- Choose a location where you are not get distracted by any outside commotion, and that it is a quiet place away from all disturbances.
- Make sure you would have enough space to stretch your legs out or do a few exercises to relax your muscles.
- Ensure that you have a sufficient number of electrical outlets
Position your laptop or computer screen correctly
A really important thing when it comes to working long hours sitting at a desk staring at a screen is to optimize the position of your screen.
Your screen should be at a height such that when you look directly at the middle of the screen your eyes only make a slight angle pointing downwards.
This way your eyes would not get strained when looking at the screen for a long time. Next, you should place your screen an arm’s length away. This way you can see the entire screen at once and would not have to keep on moving your eyes or neck to see different areas of the screen.
If you cannot directly change the height of your monitor or are using a laptop try using a laptop stand or books to elevate your screens.
Another thing that dictates your screen positioning is the number of screens you use at a time. A basic guide is that if you use one screen, it should be centralized with your line of sight directly in front of you, or if you use two screens, make sure both of them have the same height and their adjacent edges are touching, and that line of contact is directly in front of you.
If you use three screens, then the middle one should be directly in front of you with the other two on each side and all of them having the same height.
Do not forget to take screen breaks every twenty minutes for twenty seconds or a minute to allow your eyes to rest.
Choose a good office chair and watch your posture
Once you set up has been made efficient, now comes the most important part related to your health and safety: your posture. The human spine is a very ingenious and robust, yet delicate part of your body.
To save yourself from backaches and even chronic back issues like Sciatica, your spine must always maintain a natural curve. To ensure this, use lumbar support cushions and sit straight.
Never slouch, as this can cause complications regarding the discs in your upper or lower spine. Avoid dropping your head down or leaning onto the desk. This will also reduce stress in your neck and shoulders.
Try not to hold your phone between your ear and your shoulder when working to avoid strain. Instead, use a speakerphone or microphone to talk to your colleagues, or use voice input to do tasks such as typing an email whilst working.
For good ergonomics, choose a chair with a good lumbar system. Make sure the height of the chair allows you to keep the previously mentioned set up attributes in check but also allows keeps your feet flat on the ground. Never let your feet dangle; use a footrest if necessary.
Whether a standing desk is suitable for you or not is up to you. Ultimately, it boils down to maintaining proper posture. So choose for yourself if you would like to work standing up or sitting down. Just maintain proper posture.
Position your Keyboard and Mouse correctly
To keep your wrists from getting strained, it is best to keep your keyboard at a height parallel to your forearms bent at 90 degrees when your upper arms are hanging naturally and comfortably.
The keyboard should be far enough from you to allow your arms to hand naturally. It is suggested that the keyboard be flat to prevent your wrists from bending unnaturally.
When using a laptop, an external keyboard can be used to keep both the screen and keyboard at an optimum distance from you. As for the mouse, keep it near the keyboard to the side of your dominant hand and match its height to that of the keyboard.
Structure your workday with times to relax
When working from home, it can be easy to lose track of time. But it is important to keep the needs of your body in check.
Take regular breaks to ensure productivity and to prevent burnout. Take a short break every 30 minutes to move around, change your posture, or just catch your breath.
Never miss meals and stay hydrated. Keep a bottle of water near you so that you can keep yourself hydrated without needing to get up from your desk.
Use the 20/20/20 rule to avoid straining your eyes. For every 20 minutes of continuously looking at the screen, look at something 20 feet (ca. 6 m) away from you for 20 seconds.
A Reward System
Home Office Ergonomics dictates that your ultimate work environment be customized to you. Set up a reward system to keeps you motivated.
For example, schedule a coffee or treat a break at the end of your task, or even allow yourself to check your phone. Be warned though, going overboard with rewards can waste your time. That being said, a reward system keeps you motivated when working long hours.
Physical activity during the day
It is easy to forget the importance of physical activity in our daily routine. It is easier still when you have to work from home every day.
To keep your mind fresh and your productivity at its peak you should incorporate regular breaks for stretches and exercises in your work routine. Simple stretches like stretching out your arms, getting up, taking a quick walk, or just shrugging your shoulders can help you perform better at your work.
This simple guide can also help you with some excellent exercises to improve the ergonomics of your working from home routine.
Improving the ergonomics of your workspace and work routine will not only improve your productivity but also improve your quality of life overall.
And that is something really important given the current conditions. So, make the small changes discussed in this topic to efficiently and safely do your work.