Working from home means many of us have traded in our ergonomic office furniture for makeshift stations on dining tables, spare bedrooms, or even the couch.The setting might have seemed comfy at first, but in only a few workdays many of us were experiencing new aches and pains. Back pain and stiff necks are a sign of a bad working posture.
So what can you do to avoid these annoying aches and pains and prevent them from developing into more serious conditions? Here are 6 tips to set up a more ergonomic workspace at home.
1. Raise your laptop.
When your laptop is at the height of a dining table, you have to look down at your screen, holding your head at a slight downward angle that can strain your neck. Your monitor at work is likely raised so that your screen is near eye level. This is a much better design for healthy posture.
Unless you happen to have your home computer mounted a little above your desk or table, raising your laptop might require some low-level MacGyvering. Try placing your laptop on a stack of books (we always knew that Encyclopedia Britannica you’ve been holding on to would come in handy!) or on a breakfast bed tray.
2. Consider a separate keyboard and mouse.
If you raise your laptop, you relieve strain on your neck, but you might have also placed your keyboard and mouse at an uncomfortable height. A wireless keyboard and mouse can easily fix this issue, but it might not be a worthy investment for everyone.
Consider how long you anticipate working from home. If you’ll likely be indoors for months, it might be worth procuring a keyboard and mouse. You can find a variety of options for under $50 online.
3. Use cushions for back support.
Your back has a natural, soft “S” shape. A good desk chair will support this shape and encourage your body to maintain it naturally. Unfortunately, most of the chairs we have at home don’t have this shape. Dining room chairs are meant to be sat in for short stretches of time, not an 8-hour workday.
Mimic an ergonomic chair by sitting back and using a cushion or rolled up towel to add support to your lower back. If your back pain is particularly bad, try a chair cushion specifically designed for lumbar support. These strap around your chair and encourage better posture.
4. Avoid working from bed.
There is no good posture that allows you to work from bed for long periods of time. If you’re holding your head at a sharp angle to look at your screen, this can put tremendous strain on your neck and shoulders. Similarly, if you’re sinking into your pillows, your back is probably curving in an inefficient way.
Instead, keep your laptop and other work essentials set up on a dining table or desk. This will encourage you to get out of bed when the workday starts.
5. Move more.
The best trick to avoiding aches and pains? Move more! About every 30 minutes, stand up and walk around.
One good trick is to find an excuse to walk around often. For example, you could replace the large water bottle you keep by your desk with a small glass. This means you’ll need to walk to the kitchen to refill it more often. You could also make it a point to take calls while pacing around the room. If you have nothing else to do, find a 10-minute stretching guide on YouTube. It’ll be a great way to work on your range of movement while breaking up long sitting periods.
6. After work, don’t stay in the same position.
If you’ve been working from the couch all day, try not to keep watching television from the same position hours after you’ve logged off.
In fact, the best thing you could do is to stand up and exercise. When you work out, you strengthen the muscles that hold your body up. A strong core and strong back might help you maintain better posture. While most gyms are currently closed, a quick run or an online yoga class can still be immensely beneficial.
These small changes can help you work comfortably all day long. The more effort you invest in keeping a safe posture, the less chance you have of injury.