Employees have recognized that working from home can take a toll on one’s mental and physical health, including stress, anxiety, lack of sleep as well as physical ailments from poor ergonomics. Recommendations for improved home workstations include:
- Sit on something other than the couch or bed for work. Those options make it easier for the body to be poorly positioned. When chairs aren’t properly fitted to the person, the risk of Muscular Skeletal Pain (MSK) increases. For instance, working from your couch all day can cause you to slouch, which puts stress on your lower back muscles. If your laptop is too high in your lap, you might start tensing your upper back
- Use more than just your laptop, if you can. Laptops weren’t created for long hours of use on end. They were intended to be mobile. Instead of looking straight ahead with good posture, laptops force you to look downward which can lead to neck pain, sometimes known as “tech neck”.” Instead:
- Have an external monitor (separate from a laptop screen), so your gaze is ahead of you, and an external keyboard so your hand and wrist placement does not cause forearm or wrist injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
- If an external monitor is not an option, you can prop up a laptop on several books or boxes, then use an external keyboard and mouse.
- Use household items to adjust your workspace. If your chair is too high and your feet aren’t touching the floor, put a short stool underneath the feet so that your hips and knees are level. A stool isn’t available? Flip over a small trash bin or use a couple of old boxes. If you prefer to stand, set up a few boxes on top of a dresser or high table and use a laptop there. Remember to try to stand for the same amount of time your are sitting.
- Have a dedicated workspace. Try to keep what you use most often nearby, which means within arm’s reach while maintaining elbows bent at a right angle.
- Think about more than just ergonomics. Factors outside of the actual workspace can affect a person’s pain. Stress levels have risen, and stress has a way of increasing pain. Try proven mind-body techniques such as progressive relaxation and yoga to manage stress, anxiety and pain.