Because of the threat of the Coronavirus, employees have begun transitioning from office-based work to working from home. It sounds absolutely appealing, considering that all you have to do is wake up in the morning and you can immediately begin accomplishing your daily deliverables.
It’s all fun at first — working on your couch or navigating your laptop while lying on your bed. But we don’t really feel the pains of working from home until several days later when we feel the strains on our necks, shoulders, and back. Because the COVID-19 pandemic came in a flash, many employees did not foresee having to work from home. Thus, they weren’t able to prepare an ergonomic work station to adapt during the imposed lockdown and self-quarantine.
In these trying times, businesses still have to run and operate, but the employees are becoming less productive. Part of the reason is due to the many distractions of working from home, and the difficulty of adapting to a new working dynamic. But a huge bulk of it has something to do with ergonomics. You can’t really expect to be productive and efficient if you’re experiencing neck pain after merely 3 hours of work.
Occupational Health and Sports Medicine Specialist, Dr. Maj S Bakhtiar Choudhary says it’s important to maintain a healthy posture while working to ensure productivity and to prevent serious injuries in the neck, back, and wrist, among others.
Ergonomics is all the more relevant in these times. Take these tips from Dr. Maj and set up your ergonomically optimized work station at home.
1. Find a chair with a backrest
Working on a stool will not do your back any good and will cause you to start feeling pain after just a few hours. The best thing you can do is to find a chair with a backrest of 90-95 degrees to give your back the sufficient support it needs to withstand long hours sitting. Make sure your back is in contact with the backrest so you can maintain a straight and healthy posture.
If you don’t have a working desk and chair at home, use the dining table and add cushions to fix the right position. You might think that sitting on the floor against the wall will give your back adequate support, but it’s going to take a toll on your neck because there’s a tendency for your head to be leaning forward.
2. Keep your feet flat on the floor
As much as possible, your feet should be grounded on the floor the whole duration of you working. If they can’t reach the floor, use a cushion to elevate your feet. Avoid lowering the chair down to the point that your upper body is not in parallel height with the table.
Working on your bed might be tempting, but it’s not the ideal working position as it puts unnecessary pressure in several parts of your body. This increases the risk of RSIs, or Repetitive Strain Injuries.
3. Elevate your monitor
If you’re working on a laptop or desktop computer, your monitor should be aligned with the height of your eyes. This will prevent you from slouching or tilting your neck forward, thereby reducing strain on your neck, back, and shoulders. Get crafty and elevate your monitor to the ideal height using boxes or books.
4. Maintain good hand and wrist posture when using the keyboard or mouse
Even the way we type on a keyboard should be paid attention to. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of developing wrist injuries. When typing on a keyboard, make sure your wrists are positioned slightly lower than your elbow. Avoid resting your arms on your chair’s armrest while typing. Your wrists should be lower than your elbows, and your fingers lower than your wrists.
If you’re using a separate mouse on your computer (instead of a laptop’s built-in track pad), keep it as close to your body as possible. Keep a short distance between your keyboard and mouse so that you don’t have to stretch and stress your elbow to reach it.
4. Avoid sitting for long periods of time
Especially if you’re sitting on a non-ergonomic chair, you should be standing and taking breaks every now and then to avoid excessive strain on your body. Ideally, transition between sitting and standing while working every hour.