It has been an adjustment with working from home this year and what some thought may be a couple of weeks working from home has turned into months. What I have seen is people have really been feeling the strain both mentally and physically. One major thing to help with this is prioritising your work environment to work for you. So what actually is ergonomics? The Oxford Dictionary defines "Ergonomic" as: designed to make people’s working environment more comfortable and to help them work more efficiently.
Why is it important?
Well, as defined above at the end of the day while working we want to be comfortable and working efficiently. This then flows into helping both our mental and physical health. We can't go wrong with that. Especially with Covid-19 highlighting how important both of those things are right now.
So what can you do at home now?
Start with the basics and don't over think it. As stated, you want your work environment to be comfortable. And while in the first week or so it might seem comfortable working slumped on the couch, let me reassure you you won't be feeling very comfortable soon and also not working very efficiently. Refer to image below so basic workstation ergonomics.
Find a space where you can sit with a neutral spine. How do we create a neutral spine? Think of sitting up on our sitting bones and we should have a nice neutral lumbar curve in the low back. This sets up a good platform for the rest of the spine to work from. I find that the best way to think of it is, to have an angle at the hip no smaller than 90degrees, try to have your knees sitting below the hips. Shown in the picture below.
Tip: If you do not have an adjustable chair at home and working from the dining chair, layer some towels to get you at ideal height. It is better than a pillow where you do not have much support.
2. Table height
Again hard at home to get the perfect height but what we ideally want with table height is so we can use our keyboard with our elbows at 90degrees and shoulders in a relaxed position and not creeping up towards our ears.
Tip: shoulders and neck should feel comfortable and on your zoom calls your shoulders away from your ears. Have a look.
3. Computer screen
Ideally having a desktop at the moment is great for our ergonomics so we are looking straight ahead and not down to the laptop screen. If you have a laptop my almost non negotiable is to invest in a keyboard to attach and prop your laptop screen at eye height.
Monitor at eye level or just below makes a huge difference to the posture of the spine. If using two screens then trying to have both at a 45degree angle to face you and again balanced on the table.
Tip: Screen should to be an arms length away from us.
4. Check your posture throughout the day
Taking regular breaks to stand up and move around. It helps not only with resetting out posture when back at the desk but circulation, mood and energy.
Tip: try taking a walk without your phone to get a break from the screen time as well.
Image from University of Western Australia - Computer Workstation Ergonomics
Be kind to yourself
At the end of the day we are all dealing with this together and it is hard so be kind to yourself. This is not a normal work year and that will mean change. Take this opportunity to make some positive changes like getting out for a morning or afternoon walk. Sit down and have your coffee over the newspaper in the time you would be commuting to work. Positive changes for yourself will help your mental health and again help your energy levels through the work day.
Tip: keep your desk neat and tidy, good lighting and add in some greenery to create a positive space to work.
Remember we are here for you, whether that be hands on treatment or advice via phone or Telehealth. Please do not hesitate to contact us and use us as a tool to help you through this tough time.