When you get into a car to drive it for the first time, what do you do? You adjust the seat so you can reach the pedals and see the road easily, as well as feel comfortable. You move the mirrors to make sure you have a clear line of sight behind you and to either side. Most cars let you change the headrest position and the seat belt height over your shoulder, too. These customizations make driving safer and more comfortable. When you work from home, it’s important to make similar adjustments.
If you’re new to working from home due to the novel coronavirus, you can set up your workspace to be safe and comfortable with a few ergonomic tips. Doing so reduces your chance of injury and increases your comfort, all of which helps you stay productive and focused.
You don’t need to spend a bundle on a special chair. The right office chair will help some, but you also need to think about how your feet hit the floor, whether your wrists bend when you type or mouse, and other factors. You can make many of these adjustments using items from around the house or with inexpensive purchases.
Making Do With What You Have
To learn how to set up an ergonomic home office, I spoke with Alan Hedge, a professor emeritus at Cornell University in the department of design and environmental analysis.
He asked what kind of setup I was using in my home office, and I sheepishly admitted that I was probably in a terrible position. I had just moved to a new apartment and had nothing more than a laptop on a kitchen table with a straight-backed chair.
“If it so happens that when you sit on that chair you can put your hands flat on the table, then that laptop with a pretty thin keyboard is probably going to be ok,” he said. He added that home tables are often a few inches lower than office desks, making something like a keyboard tray unnecessary for some people working from home.
Whether the table is the right height is relative, of course. It depends on how tall you are. Hedge also had some tips for using inexpensive items, like a rolled-up towel for lumbar support and a laptop riser, to make any home office more ergonomically friendly.
There are four areas to focus your attention when setting up an ergonomic home office, according to Hedge, but before you get started, it’s just as important to consider what kind of work you do and what kind of equipment you need.
What Equipment Do You Need? What
Type of Work Do You Do?
What equipment do you need to work? Do you have a desktop, laptop, tablet? How many monitors do you use? Do you look at books and physical paper often? Are there other peripherals you need, such as a microphone or stylus?
Additionally, what type of work do you do with that equipment? “The posture of the person sitting down really depends on what they’re doing with their hands,” Hedge said. So before you make any changes, consider how you spend the bulk of your work time. Do you type for hours at a time? Are you a graphic designer who relies heavily on a mouse or stylus? If there is a task that you do for extended periods of time, then customize your setup to be …….