9 Jul 2021
Do’s and Don’ts of your Work From Home Desk Setup
9 Jul 2021
Many of us have been working from home more than ever during these past 18 months. For some of us, working from home was something we already did every now and then. However, now so many of us are spending 8+ hours a day sitting at a work from home desk setup that is probably not doing your body justice!
When you work in an office building, ergonomic design is an essential part of the space and equipment layout and structure. When you work from home, your space is not designed for these long stretches of work. You may have noticed that working from home isn’t as comfortable as working in the office, and you may have noticed that you are experiencing some new aches and pains with it! We can attest to it, because there has certainly been a spike of ergonomic-related issues seen by our manual practitioners recently!
If you are working from home you may find these tips and tricks helpful to evaluate to see if your at home work space could use some ergonomic adjustments.
The Ergonomic Set-Up
If you want to know what it takes to have an ergonomic set-up, it’s all about the workstation fitting the user like a glove. This means that something that works for Julia might not work for Jim. The two main things are the chair and desk that you are using. Both of these are crucial to providing a perfect work station!
The one thing you should not be “skimping” on is your desk chair. However, we know there is no shortage in chair options. We have created a list of criteria of what to look for in an ‘ergonomics chair’ below. The key thing is to TRY out as many chairs as possible before you purchase. This way you will know for sure you have the right chair and will make a good investment.
Multi-tilt functionality – Experts are saying that the optimal backrest angle for comfort is slightly reclined at 95 – 115 degrees, instead of the ‘traditional’ 90 degree tilt. The multi-tilt function allows you to adjust and easily lock into place the best position for a long shift.
Seat pan adjustability – To help with lumbar support, it is recommended that the seat pan be tilted forward 5 – 10 degrees. This will help to avoid the prolonged flexed position that the lumbar spine finds itself in after a long day of work.
Lumbar support – Ideally, the support needs to be adjustable in height and in pressure. If the chair does not have this function, a pillow or rolled towel will also do the trick. By having lumbar support, we are avoiding having the lumbar spine in a prolonged flexed position, which over time can cause injury and discomfort.
Arm rests – Options for adjustability of arms rests should be in height, width and length. The adjustability of height and width are more common and allow you to adjust to your body type. Adjustability in length is not as common, but if you manage to find a chair with this feature, the length will prevent you from sitting too close to your desk. This will help avoid tension if the arms are hanging too low and compression injuries if the shoulders are too high.
Seat height – Adjusting your chair’s height is a very standard practice these days and has been for quite some time. Ideally, seat height needs to be adjusted so your feet are flat on the floor and both your ankles and knees resting at a 90 degree angle. This will help to avoid legs hanging or being pushed and compressed creating more susceptibility to injury.
Using a real desk makes setting up a home office easier. However, given the circumstances of many WFH situations, many people are using a “desk”. Whether it’s a dining room table, TV tray or even a folding table, make sure that is not causing posture problems. Specifically, your desk should fit your knees and thighs comfortable underneath. If you can’t fit under the desk comfortably, try out a different “desk” until you find the right fit. Below is a list of criteria that should help you find your perfect fit.
Adjust your work surface to match your height – This will avoid the hunched over posture.
Watch the height of your screen – Adjust your screen so that it is level with the center of your gaze. If you need to raise your laptop or computer screen, consider using a stack of books or a small box such as a shoe box to get that added height.
Ensure there is clearance for your knees and feet – To start, you should not be storing anything under your work area. This will cramp the area and force you to sit in positions that are not normal. To reiterate, you should not be fighting for space under your desk.
Use a foot stool if necessary – Keeping both feet placed firmly on the ground will reduce the potential for leg crossing; a big no no if you’re suffering from lower back pain.
Padded edge – Using padding will decrease the amount of pressure applied to the wrist over long periods of time. This can help reduce symptoms and/or prevent development of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Having the proper chair and desk alignment is just the beginning of the ergonomic design done in your office building. Having the correct desk and chair to fit your body comfortably are arguably the two most important factors to consider when setting up your home office.
Feeling the aches and pains from an improper office set up? Make an appointment with a registered massage therapists or registered acupuncturist at Natural Choice Medical Clinic in Guelph to help ease away these irritations!
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