You finally ditched the open-plan office to work from home, but beware, there are underlying dangers to the home-office setup… and this is aside from no-one checking in on you and forcing you to do actual work. It’s while you do the actual work that you need to ensure things are in ergonomic order!
When distilled, office ergonomics means efficiency in your daily movements around the office, which now doubles as the place you live in. The ergonomics in this environment will have an impact on how much work you get done and how you feel, physically and emotionally – and the same ergonomic principles that applied to your working station in your old job, or should have at least, apply to you working from home.
You need a good chair, and you need a good desk.
While it’s likely your home office in the first few weeks after moving in consisted mainly of your couch at home, your lap serving as a desk, and the coffee table in front of the chair used for, well, a spot for coffee cups, you may have noticed it’s impossible to get work done in this manner.
You’re more productive when sitting in an ergonomically optimal chair with lumbar support.
“You have to find a way to separate yourself from the rest of the goings-on in the home and to convey a sense of ‘off limits’ to all other normal and natural home sounds and interruptions,” Jo Heinz, president of Dallas interior architecture and design firm Staffelbach, told Entrepreneur magazine.
Establish boundaries: the couch is for lounging and the office chair for working.
Before buying a chair, consider your body type and how long you plan on sitting down in the chair, explains Karo employee Ronel Hendry, who is certified in workplace ergonomics. For instance, look into buying a heavy-duty chair if you’re going to spend the entire day in your seat with limited amounts of break time in between. This kind of chair is also better suited to heavier individuals.
Look at the height of the chair and how it can be adjusted to suit your body perfectly. Also consider how you’re going to be moving about the workstation. Does your chair need wheels, for instance?
The wrong chair will lead to all kinds of back problems and other slowly-crippling health issues, and it’s not something you want to save a few bucks on. Invest in a good, solid and ergonomic chair.
Ensure that the space on your desk is restricted you have only the necessary room for your equipment to work with. This is to avoid any clutter that may, and will almost naturally, accumulate on your desk. A microdesk may be a good option for minimising clutter.
The adjustable, dual-purpose placing platform and document holder, place paperwork in front of you while you work, which reduces strain while reading, writing and typing.
The next step is to check that the desk stands at an optimal height, which allows you to work with your arms directly out in front of you, but also to leave ample space for your legs below. There should be room behind your legs to minimise pressure on your knees.
Heinz from Straffelbach explained that simple solutions like a pencil cup or tray for stashing away writing instruments, or business-card holders for cards and other miscellanies, can make a huge difference. “Literally, there [must be] a place for everything,” he said.
In the same vein, a file for all your other documents can also minimise clutter.
The position of your various instruments, such as your keyboard, will also directly impact your hand positioning. This, in turn, will affect how the rest of your desk, like the monitor, is organised.
The monitor should be placed to avoid any glare and should be fitted with an adjustable monitor arm. A common oversight is incorrect settings on the brightness and contrast of your monitor, which can lead to eye strain.
The reason you moved into your own space was for maximum comfort in your daily working life. It would thus stand to reason that you have the right equipment in doing so. It’s as simple as a chair, desk, and how it’s organised.