Working from a location other than your office can be challenging.
It is often due to the distractions and other modalities that may depend on that environment. Your physical and mental wellbeing influences your performance, so you need to ensure that your workspace is safe and comfortable. Most employers know it; that is why they make sure that offices are conducive to allow workers to deliver their duties efficiently.
The digital era has brought new dynamics that are changing the order of things, even in the workplace. With a computer and a reliable internet connection, you can access your agency’s servers from home without visiting the traditional office. It’s anticipated more companies of the future will hire more contractors or staff to work from home. But without proper ergonomics, you can end up with musculoskeletal disorders, among other health issues.
Ergonomics at home entails how well your workstation is set up with the essential office tools within reach. The idea is to minimize stress and discomfort, even if you are working long hours. As you set up a home office, implementing ergonomics will ensure that you do not waste valuable time looking for frequently used items. Sitting more with little movement should not result in bad posture.
There are those morale boosters that guarantee increased productivity, whether you are working from home or the office. It could be your favorite music and art, or particular practices that will minimize stress for a healthy and injury-free working environment. With this must-read ergonomics guide for working from home, you can set up the ideal workspace to enable you to stay productive and pain-free.
Owning any table and chair does not cut it for those working from home for a long time. A proper desk and chair, preferably adjustable models are recommended. Desks should be at the appropriate height for your body size to avoid posture-related injuries. It should also have adequate space for the necessary office tools — mousepad, keyboard — that help you deliver your duties efficiently. With proper positioning, you can avoid twisting awkwardly each time you want to use an item.
For chairs, a quality model should provide adequate support for your body weight, with your feet resting comfortably on the floor or a proper footrest. With adjustable seating, you can find the right position that relieves pressure from your joints as you maintain correct spinal alignment. Consider stretch breaks if you will be working long hours to avoid the issues that come with prolonged sitting.
According to a publication on occupational safety and health administration, “an important step in the ergonomic process is to identify and assess ergonomic problems in the workplace before they result in MSDs” (musculoskeletal disorders). With a self-assessment checklist, you can track every milestone and measure your performance per time. Your findings will help you improve your ergonomic approach for better results.
Although glare on screens as a result of bright light can cause headaches, your workstation should not be dimly lit. Installing an anti-glare screen on monitors can solve the problem of light shining directly on your eyes. But reducing the risk of eye strain due to inadequate lighting should be paramount. For those using natural light, window blinds can help redirect light rays, preventing it from shining directly on the monitor.
With a spacious desk, you can position regularly used items the way you want, and the monitor at a suitable distance from your eyes. The safe distance could be different for everyone depending on their height and the condition of their eyes. Working with dual monitors can be challenging, as you might need to compare data from both screens. Correct positioning ensures that you do not strain your eyes and neck muscles from turning your head significantly while working.
Although laptops seem more flexible, using them for prolonged periods is not advised since the keyboard and screen cannot be repositioned independently. Get an external keyboard or monitor if you must use a laptop, to avoid slouching to view the screen, which could result in back pain.
People could get so engrossed with work that they spend almost the entire day sitting in one place and repeating the same motion. It could lead to Repetitive Motion Disorders (RMDs), like trigger finger, carpal tunnel syndrome, tenosynovitis, bursitis, epicondylitis, tendonitis, and ganglion cyst. Researchers from the Minot State University believe that “The best form of prevention is to limit the time anyone spends doing the same motion over and over, whether it’s packing, using a keyboard, using a hand or power tool.” Even with ergonomically correct furniture, take time to stretch your legs and work other muscles in your body to improve circulation.
Ergonomics involves making your life easier and safer, with reduced human errors as you work from home. A CDC report on work-related musculoskeletal disorders & ergonomics revealed that “Musculoskeletal disorders account for nearly 70 million physician office visits in the United States annually.” Even if implementing the ergonomic process involves spending extra money, the rewards are worth it.
Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo! News and Influencive. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.