How to Work from Home Healthy
Are you one for the millions of people who work from home for some, if not all, of the work week? If so, you may wonder how to set up a workspace that’s best for your body. People often feel unsure about ergonomics for their home office and give up on the idea entirely. Others may be tempted to work from a comfy couch or their bed, but is that really good for your health in the long term?
Luckily there are some simple steps you can take to optimize your work environment and improve long term wellness.
Ergonomic Set-up Guide
The Desk: typically the desk/table is the least adjustable part of one’s workstation, so let's start there.
- With your elbows bent to 90 degrees, your hands should rest comfortably on your work surface. You may need to adjust the height of your chair/seat to achieve this position.
- The keyboard and the mouse should be positioned at a distance that enables your forearms to rest on the table.
- The mouse should be aligned with the shoulder and positioned close to the keyboard.
- Use a sturdy, supportive chair (i.e. not the couch).
- You can add a lumbar support pillow or a rolled up towel placed behind your low back to encourage good posture.
- Your feet should be planted on the floor, with your knees and hips bent to about 90 degrees. Depending on your desk height, it may be difficult to have feet on the floor AND forearms resting on the desk. If your legs don’t reach the ground, place a small step stool or stack of books under your feet.
- Your eyes should be level with the top one-third of your computer screen to prevent strain on your neck. The recommended distance from the monitor to the eyes is between 15 - 30 inches.
- To achieve this placement, some need a platform to elevate their monitor.
- If a laptop is your primary computer, you may consider buying a remote keyboard, so that your monitor and your typing surface can each be positioned independently.
Final Tip: switch it up between sitting and standing
- Prolonged sitting has been shown to increase body aches and pains, particularly in the low back. Prolonged sitting is also associated with type 2 diabetes and has a negative effect on mood.
- Research shows that standing for at least 5 minutes each hour can reduce your risk of back pain and has a positive effect on both mental state and blood pressure. We recommend setting a timer on your phone to remind you to stand each hour.
- If you want to try to work while standing, just place your computer on an elevated surface to avoid strain on your neck.
If you are experiencing pain that worsens with sitting at your desk or interferes negatively with work, physical therapy can help. PTs can perform a thorough assessment of your posture and identify any muscular imbalances to create a tailored treatment plan. Through manual therapy techniques and exercises, PT can help reduce pain and improve function. Your therapist can also help assess your workstation setup and troubleshoot any questions that arise.