The sudden launch into working from home can be a culture shock, especially if you’re used to working in an office where everything has already been set up for you.
Having to use a regular kettle instead of an instant hot-water tap. The sudden pain in your back. Until now, it might have seemed a mystery how so many people manage to injure themselves when they’re stationary at a desk.
But, according to the statistics, this is happening to workers in their tens of thousands every single year.
Health and safety when working from home
Workplace injuries aren’t down to extreme desk yoga either. They’re often simply down to poorly set up workstations which, over time, lead to health problems including:
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Muscle pain and wastage
- Inflamed joints
- Carpal tunnel
- Repetitive strainEye strain, irritation or blurred vision
- Chronic headaches or migraines
The best place to start with avoiding these kinds of ailments, which come as a consequence of a ‘desk job’ lifestyle, is to make sure you’ve got your workplace ergonomics in check.
So, how should your workstation be set-up when you work from home? Very similar to your in-office set up, if it’s been done properly. Not always easy if you don’t have an entire home-office, but here are a few tips to get you started.
Make sure your feet are flat on the ground, with your legs at a 90-degree angle to the floor. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor to avoid problems with your legs and lower back.
Ideally, you’ll have a good quality task chair which offers height adjustability, moveable arms and strong lumbar support. Failing that, test drive the seats available to you at home, and see what works!
Lumbar support should sit at the small of your back. Arms should be low enough for your shoulders to drop and not be hunched up.
The height of the chair should be at a point which allows you clear vision of your screen (more on that in moment) and there should be a small space between the back of your knees and the front of the seat pad.
Your keyboard should be positioned just slightly above elbow height, which is something you can adjust by changing the height of your chair, or stacking the keyboard. It should be far enough away from you to allow your wrists and elbows to be in a relaxed flat position, but not so far you have to bend forward to reach it.
You should sit in the centre of the keyboard and make sure your mouse is close enough to avoid having to stretch for it. Use a mouse pad or a keyboard wrist rest to further fend off things like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Your monitor (or screen) should be at a 90-degree angle to you and around 18-30 inches away from your face, depending on your eye sight requirements. The height should be so that your line of vision is somewhere in the top third of the screen – again, this can be adjusted using the height of your chair or a monitor mount. Or a few books.
Other top tips:
Position items you need (such as your telephone) at a reachable distance to avoid repetitive stretching.
Invest in a sit-stand desk if your budget can stretch that far, so that you can switch between postures and positions throughout the day.