Recent years have obviously had a huge impact on the world of work, especially in regards to how and where people work. The number of people working remotely/working from home has significantly increased in recent years, yet many of these workers are finding that their makeshift home offices aren’t up to scratch in terms of comfort, with many not even considering the importance of ergonomics in their home office setup. According to research from Bupa UK in 2020, over 11 million Brits had injured their back, neck, hips, knees or wrists due to poor home office setups. The research suggested that only 32% of remote workers have a dedicated workspace in their home, with many using sofas, kitchen chairs, beds, or even beanbags as makeshift workstations. Hopefully these figures have improved significantly since the research was carried out, however anecdotal evidence suggests there are still many people out there still suffering with working from home.
One of the most common causes of working from home injury is working off a laptop. Due to the relative height of the laptop to the viewer, it more often that not encourages people to hunch slightly in order to look at the screen. A few hours on a weekend of this wouldn’t be too detrimental, but 40 hours a week can start to do some real damage. The quickest fix for this is to get the screen higher up. When viewing the screen the address bar on your web browser should be at eye line – if you have the option use an external monitor, or alternatively a laptop stand (even a stack of books will do!).
During the initial stages of pandemic lockdown, an office chair was certainly not a piece of furniture that everyone had at home, however significant boosts in office chair sales in recent years would suggest that it’s become a necessity. A good office chair provides the lumbar support and adjust to the individual, ensuring you can achieve the right posture – certainly more so than the yoga ball or kitchen stool!
You need seating which will allow you to see the screen whilst sitting in a way that provides proper lower back support, for many people that will similar to their posture when driving a car, slightly leaning back – try not to sit bolt upright with the trunk of the body perpendicular to the floor as this can cause lower back problems. If you have not choice as your chair doesn’t tilt back, at the very least make sure your posture is supported with a cushion or pillow behind the lower back. The chair height should allows your hips to be slightly above your knees and your feet directly on the floor in front of you, again to help relieve tension in the lower back.
Although there is no evidence to suggest that computer screens cause any real damage to the eyes, staring at a computer screen all day can cause a fair bit of discomfort. Mostly in the form of tired eyes and headaches. Following the 20/20/20 rule will help stave off those end of the day migraines, every 20 minutes take a 20 second break to look at least 20 feet away. Simple!
Prevention is better than treatment, and regular movement and exercise is a huge factor in ensuring you don’t get any WFH injuries. We’re not saying you have to run a half marathon every day, but just make a conscious effort to get up and move around a bit throughout the day. Every 20 minutes or so you should at the very least stand up and have a little stretch for a minute or 2. Even better would be to get out for a walk on your break – walking to the kitchen doesn’t count. A quick walk outside during the day has been proven to not only decrease the risk of ergonomic strain on your body, but also vastly improve morale and productivity when working from home.
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