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Home Office Ergonomics Tips

Weekly HR Cougar Corner

As we spend more time working from home it is important to make sure that our “home office” is set up properly and we are conscious of our posture and movements throughout the day. Here are some tips from the ergonomics experts to stay healthy and productive:

Change your posture every 30 minutes or so by taking a break and doing some basic stretching or performing tasks that require you to move around.

Consider building mobility into your work routine as well, such as walking around while making phone calls if possible.

Good sitting posture makes a big difference in the possibility of contracting back problems. You can achieve good posture by sitting straight in your chair, planting your feet firmly on the floor and keeping your lower back supported by the lumbar support of your chair. If placing your feet directly on the floor means you must sit too low to comfortably type or see the monitor screen, get a foot rest (a book or box may also work) to raise up the floor to your feet. Find the best and most comfortable chair. A hard chair does not support the back or the lower extremities. A cushioned chair will provide enough support to keep comfortable and can raise the seat height so that your elbows are closer to the work surface. If the seat does not have a lumbar support, use a pillow or a rolled-up towel. Avoid chairs that have a sharp edge along the front leading edge. Over time, these edges can compress muscles, tendons, nerves and blood vessels and cause numbness or even pain in your legs or feet. If using a chair without arm rests, consider pushing the keyboard and mouse back slightly to use the work surface for forearm support. Keep your elbows comfortably close to your body core.

Your head and neck posture are important as well. Keeping your chin tucked toward your chest can lead to neck, shoulder, and back pain. Instead, you want to keep your body relaxed. The top of the monitor should be aligned with your seated eye height. Ensure the monitor is placed 20-40 inches (about an arm’s length) away from the eyes. The monitor distance should be about 20 inches when using a small screen or a laptop screen and further away as the screen size gets larger.

For every 20 minutes spent looking at a computer screen, you should spend 20 seconds looking at something else 20 feet away. Also remove your hands from the keyboard and mouse during this time as well.

Also, consider adjusting your workstation to accommodate a standing posture periodically throughout the day. When compared to an afternoon of sedentary work, an equal amount of time spent standing has been shown to burn over 170 additional calories. In addition, standing, especially after lunch, can reduce your blood sugar levels. Lastly, several studies show that standing can dramatically decrease chronic back pain caused by prolonged sitting.