Ergonomic considerations when working from home

Prior to the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 there was an upward trend in the number of people working from home. According to a recent Brookings blog post, as much as half of American workers are currently working from home, more than double the number of those in 2017-2018. (1) Some workspaces in homes, especially those set up in a hurry, may not provide the best ergonomics to keep users safe.

Computer workstation

When working at a computer consider the following to minimize musculoskeletal stress:

  • Relax your neck and shoulders eliminating tension
  • Try to position your elbows, knees and hips each at a 90 degree angle
  • Avoid resting your wrists on hard edges and maintain wrists in a neutral position
  • Position your mouse at the same height and distance from the monitor(s) as your keyboard
  • Position yourself in your chair to provide lower back support
  • Your feet should rest flat on the floor or be supported by a footrest
  • Your computer monitor(s) should be 25 inches from your eyes, at or below eye level

If your work from home situation is temporary the ergonomic advantages listed above can be accomplished using common items around your home for little cost.

Visual timeout

Protect your eyes from computer screen stress. Some simple tips include:

  • Blinking to create moisture, keeping your eyes fresh
  • Take a break from the screen using the “20-20-20 guide”, every 20 minutes look away from your computer monitor at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds
  • Set up your monitor to avoid glares on your screen
  • Consider changing your font to a larger size easing your ability to read on screen

Maintain a schedule

Simply because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you should work exceedingly long hours. Your body and mind continue to need breaks to maintain productivity. Keeping a flexible routine will benefit you and your employer. Consider the following:

  • Eat regular meals away from your workstation
  • Stay hydrated
  • Periodically stretch your arms, legs, neck, and back to reduce stress and soreness
  • Take an occasional quick walk to help with blood flow and reduce the risk of strains
  • Maintain a regular end-time to your workday and try to stick with it

If you notice new aches and pains after you’ve been working from home, evaluate your work station and make adjustments until you’re working more comfortably.

By: Bill Coons
Sr. Risk Solution Specialist

References: was also used for some ergonomic positions mentioned in this article

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