In the past few months, millions of us have made the switch to working from home, and we may be still feeling the adjustment pains. After all, not everyone’s home is set up to accommodate hours of desk work, and your legs, your back, and your neck may be ailing from the daily grind.
Consider the following best practices to make your time working from home as comfortable and easy on your body as possible.
1. Quit hunching!
If you’re using a laptop for work, you may find yourself hunching over a desk, arching your shoulders and dangling your head over the keyboard. This is a recipe for disaster from an ergonomic standpoint, as excessive slouching can lead to back, shoulder, and neck strain.
Ideal positioning allows the top of your computer screen to be at eye-level when you sit up straight. Here are some easy fixes:
- Order a computer monitor, which are surprisingly cheap online.
- Order a laptop stand, which you can adjust to an ideal height. (If you’re using one of these, you’ll probably need a separate keyboard and mouse as well).
- Balance your laptop on top of a stack of books, so that it meets eye-level.
2. Work at the proper height
Your elbows should ideally meet your desk at a 90-degree angle, so if you have an adjustable chair, make sure you’ve lifted it to the proper height to allow this alignment.
Be careful, though. If your seat is too high, your legs may dangle over the side, which could make your legs numb or hurt your back. If this happens, use a step stool or a stack of books to prop-up your feet.
If your chair is not adjustable, consider sitting on a pillow to put yourself in the proper position.
3. Alternate between sitting and standing
Spending too much time in one position can pose risks to your health, impeding blood-flow and making your muscles tense. Be sure you get up from your seat and walk around every half hour or so to mitigate these risks.
Some opt for the “standing desk,” which allows you to work on your feet. But too much time standing can also depress your physical wellness, with one recent study suggesting that prolonged standing leads to cardiovascular disease.
The key is to get a healthy mix of sitting and standing. Whatever your main work position is, mix it up every so often to give your body some much-needed movement.
4. Practice the 20-20-20 rule
Most at-home workers spend the day staring at a computer or phone screen, beaming detrimental blue light directly into their eyes. But excessive exposure to blue light can lead to sleeping difficulty and damaged eye cells, not to mention a blurriness that can linger long after the working day is done.
The 20-20-20 rule says that for every 20 minutes you spend staring at a screen, you should stare at something 20 feet in the distance for 20 seconds, giving your eyes enough time to relax from the blue light strain. This tool will help remind you to take your eye break every 20 minutes.
If you are really concerned about your long hours of staring at a screen, consider buying a pair of blue light glasses, which help soften the glare and inhibit some of the more severe consequences of blue light.
5. Make yourself comfortable
You can give yourself permission to lose some of the decorum that comes with an office setting if you are doing your work from home. If you feel more productive while leaning back in a chair, go ahead and lean. If you like working in your sweatpants, make yourself comfy. Don’t be so concerned about recreating your old workplace inside your own house. Instead, think about what will make you most comfortable and productive in your solitary space.