Ergonomics is just as important for the remote professional as it is for in-office workers (hey, we’re all doing the same tasks, no matter how close together or far apart we are). Unfortunately, without a team of ergonomists to motivate the remote worker, working from home often means working slouched over in the couch or the bed. This can lead to a whole host of both immediate and long term injuries, from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) to repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). For those of you who work from afar, here are just a few tips for home office ergonomics to look after your health while (remotely) on the job.
1) Get Your Desk Height Right
If your desk (or dining room table or counter, depending on where you work) is still in the position it was when you first received it, it’s probably either too high or too low for your body type and therefore poses an injury risk to your muscles. In fact, even if you have adjusted it since then you may not have it right, as many of the more traditional writing desks you may have used at work or school are not correctly positioned.
You can tell you’ve got it right when you can type with your elbows bent at around 45 degrees and with your hands hovering in a neutral position over your keyboard. You should also be able to achieve this position with your chair at such a height that the soles of your feet press flat into the ground. Overall, there should simply be no straining of joints and muscles to complete tasks.
2) Get Your Employer to Invest in Ergonomic Equipment
Being remote doesn’t make your employer any less liable for injuries on the job. As such, they should be more than willing to invest in good ergonomic equipment for your home office. An ergonomic keyboard is an especially effective solution for most office workers, as it will provide a customized fit for your body type and typing style. Ergonomic mice also provide ample support, while a laptop and tablet stand will bring your device screen to the ideal level, so that you can keep your neck in a neutral position as you type.
3) Add Your Own Ergonomic Hacks
Of course, there are many economical ways to hack your own workspace, and they just might prove creatively stimulating. The website Ikea Hackers, for instance, offers countless interesting office solutions, many of which propose creative solutions for organizing your space and keeping every object within easy reach. You might try, for instance, merging two different Ikea table types so that you have ample space for working, or lay a door over two file cabinets to create a distinctive desk (just as long as this met your height requirements). Even stacking a bunch of books together to create a standing desk can be an effective way to go. Dream it, and then do it!
Ergonomic comfort is a crucial part of anyone’s career. We highly recommend reading the following article, Tips on Setting Up a Home Office, for a more in-depth set of how-tos.