What is the best ergonomic home office setup?
If you are currently working from home and aren’t sure how long it may go on, it’s most definitely worthy of having an ergonomic home office setup for yourself.
Of course, it is important to consider things such as how focused and productive you can be in this environment. But it’s also crucial to ensure your home working environment is comfortable. And isn’t likely to lead to any pain or ailments caused by a poor working posture or ergonomic set-up.
Using a laptop for fun vs using a laptop for work
When you are using a laptop for recreational purposes, you may be sat on the couch, or in bed, hunched over your screen. Perhaps with your legs crossed, or folded underneath you.
Whilst sitting like this for an hour or two at a time, every so often, isn’t likely to do too much damage. But sitting this way for hours on end, several days a week is likely to cause pain in the back and neck.
Bad posture or crouching over a desk can cause serious health issues
For that reason, deciding to sit like this whilst working from home could have negative effects long after you return to the office after the lockdown.
That’s why it is important to set up a home working office space, that takes your posture and working position into consideration. It will for sure prevent a lot of discomfort or pain down the line. But how to set up an ergonomic home office?
Well, here are some home office ergonomics tips.
Where should my computer be, and how should I angle it?
It’s best to have your computer on a solid surface. Not only will this make using it far easier and more comfortable, but it also will keep it in a good working position throughout your working day.
Ideally, you should have your computer raised to the point that the screen is on eye-level with you. This won’t be such a problem with traditional desktop PCs, as the monitors are often adjustable.
But, if you’re working on a laptop, it may be a good idea to find a few objects that you can stack on top of each other to get your laptop screen up to eye-level. Maybe some books or boxes.
Or, better, use an adjustable laptop holder to have the screen right in front of you.
Make sure they are strong enough to support your laptop as you use it, and that they are larger than your laptop in width and length. This set-up won’t look particularly pleasing, of course, but you’ll thank yourself in the long run.
What sort of chair should I use?
If you have a traditional office chair in your home, then, of course, use that. Experts agree that the best option is always a chair that allows you to adjust its height. But these aren’t as easy to come by in the average household.
But, usually, you can find a chair that meets at least some requirements for optimal home-working. And there are some things you can do to improve its quality for the task at hand.
Of course, a huge ‘don’t’ in this case is picking a chair with no back to it. You’d quickly find that that’s not a sustainable way for anyone to sit whilst working.
Pick a chair that allows your head, neck, and torso to line up, and, which supports the natural ‘S’ shape of your spine. You can add a cushion or two, or a rolled-up towel, to adjust the height you are sitting at or the amount of support underneath your lower back.
Standard desk height for an office desk
The standard desk height for an office desk is between 28 and 30 inches ( 70 - 76 cm)
If you have a table that is higher than this standard you still can have an ergonomic desk setup.
Simply adjust your chair to the new height. If that is not possible you can put something underneath your chair to raise your seating level.
You should also have your feet and ankles slightly raised, to prevent pain in the legs. Again, a rolled-up towel or a shoe box could be ideal for this purpose.
A straight spine and correct distance to the monitor is essential for an ergonomic home office set up.
How far should I sit from my desk?
Your laptop or keyboard/mouse should be around 4 inches (ca. 10 cm) from the edge of your work surface.
The top of the monitor should be around one arm’s length away to prevent having to lean back or forward when working.
The idea is to set up your desk in a way that allows you can work with your back straight, without having to crane your neck to see your screen properly.
Whenever you get a spare moment, stand up, stretch out and move around. Even a short walk around the house for a moment is helpful for maintaining good blood flow.
Keep your posture in check, too. Work with your shoulders down, and your back comfortably straight. Don’t slouch, or let your shoulders make their way higher up so that you are almost shrugging.
Why is an ergonomic home office setup so important?
Bad posture whilst working can be incredibly detrimental in the long term. It can cause pain in the muscles and joints in various areas of the body, with the lower back, shoulders, and neck being affected the most.
A slightly less serious, but equally undesirable side effect which you may experience from slouching over your computer is what has become known as ‘text neck’. That's the kind of ‘double chin’ you develop by looking straight down at your phone or computer for too long, too often.
More seriously, it can also cause a curvature of the spine, which can lead to an array of issues that will cause pain and discomfort in later life. Even digestive problems can be caused by slouching your shoulders over your abdomen!
All in all, every area of your body will benefit from putting a little more thought into your ergonomic office design, and ensuring that it’s effective, yet comfortable.
Designing an ergonomic set-up for your home office does take a little research. But it certainly doesn’t require you to order thousands of dollars worth of office furniture.
As we’ve seen, there’s likely plenty of areas and items in your own home you can use to ensure that you can work in comfort. And most important - without the fear of causing yourself physical pain or postural problems.
More practical tips you also ca find in our article "How to Improve Ergonomics When Working From Home".