Over the past two years, employees working from home offices has grown with more than a quarter of the US workforce now working remotely. That’s up from 6% just five years ago.
If you are one of the 91 million US workers who work remotely, addressing safety in your at-home office looks a little different than for those that are in a traditional office setting. Musculoskeletal discomforts and injuries are one of the biggest safety concerns for remote workers. That’s why it is important for remote workers to ensure their home office is set up with proper ergonomics to reduce the risk of suffering discomfort and pain.
To reduce this risk of suffering pain and discomfort, we have assembled the essentials for an ergo-friendly remote office in our “Home Office Ergonomics Tool Kit” outlined below.1. Adjustable Chair
It is no secret that if you are not properly situated at a desk or chair, it can lead to injuries. That’s why the number one element in our tool kit is an adjustable chair.
Properly positioning your chair can be achieved in two steps:
- Raise your chair so your arms are positioned correctly on your desk. To do this, close your eyes and place your hands on your belly button. Slowly move them out to create a 90-degree angle in your elbow. Then open your eyes. Your hands should be hovering slightly over your desk/keyboard.
- If your hands are too low, then raise your seat. If your hands are too high, then lower your seat.
2. Laptop Stand/Adjustable Monitors
If you’re like many remote workers, you are likely working from a laptop. To avoid holding your neck in an awkward position, your laptop must be at eye level. This can be accomplished with a laptop stand or a stack of paper under the base.
If you do have a monitor or dual monitors, you want to make sure they are also raised to eye level. For those with a dual monitor set-up, position the monitors next to each other, touching them at the sides. Where the two screens touch, should be in line with your nose so you can easily look at both screens without straining your neck.
For proper posture to be established when sitting at a desk, a worker’s feet must be firmly on the floor. For many at-home workers, desk space is often found on a table. Commonly, tables are often higher than a traditional desk and require the adjustable chair to be at the highest level, to ensure proper arm height. This can result in feet barely touching the floor. Adding a footrest below your feet can ensure the feet are properly supported.
Cell phones and back pain may not be two things commonly connected, but when you answer the phone or jump on a Zoom meeting while cradling your mobile device between your neck and ear, you are at high risk of both neck and back pain. Bluetooth earbuds or plug-in headphones help reduce this risk.
5. External Keyboard and Mouse
Using a laptop keyboard and mouse for extended periods can result in wrist discomfort and even Carpel Tunnel. That is why an external keyboard and mouse are recommended in the Home Office Ergonomics Toolkit.
Your keyboard should be positioned directly in front of your laptop stand or monitor. This prevents you from straining your neck or back to twist and see the computer screen.6. Light and Screen Brightness
Lighting is very important when it comes to home office ergonomics. When your office is poorly lit, or your screen brightness is not adjusted correctly for the light in the room, it is the natural tendency to lean forward to read a monitor or laptop screen. This subconscious lean causes strain on your neck, shoulders, and back. A light on your desk gives you the flexibility to add more light, when necessary, easily and quickly.
As the US workforce continues to expand to include more remote workers, it is important that those workers are protected from common musculoskeletal injuries. Ensuring a home office has proper ergonomics is necessary to ensure workers stay safe, healthy, and productive.