THE ERGONOMICS OF WORKING FROM HOME
Updated: Apr 23
As we all navigate these strange waters, we at In Stride thought it might be useful to pass on our best tips for working from home (WFH). If you do end up with a sore or stiff back/neck, we are still open for face to face physiotherapy appointments out of Shop 2/100 Union Road, Ascot Vale and are now offering telehealth where you can be assessed and advised by our physiotherapists - you could even show them your WFH set up.
At first, WFH might seem like a much much comfier alternative to your office space at work (hello couch, hello bed), but there are a number of things to consider to make sure your conditions are supportive, sustainable and professional (for all your colleagues taking a peek on zoom).
Before I get stuck into the nitty gritty of ergonomics, lets go over some general ways to maximise your WFH experience.
Without the humdrum of your daily commute, it's a good idea to introduce a new routine to wake you up and prepare your mindset for the work day ahead.
The basics, of course - make your bed, brush your teeth, put on clean and presentable clothes - still apply. But now that you've got a bit of extra time, consider going for a walk or run, moving through some gentle stretches, or sitting down for a few minutes with a cup of coffee before you move to your desk.
2. Protect your time
There are two heads to this hydra. On one hand, it's easy to feel as you've suddenly got time in this novel structure of a work day to run a thousand errands. Do the laundry maybe, actually make it to the post office within their hours for once, pick up some extra groceries for the extravagant lunch lasagne you're baking.
On the other hand, 5pm can bleed very quickly into 6pm when you're not rushing to make the express train and before you know it you have the posture of Quasimodo while you eat dinner at your new desk.
Working hours are still your working hours. Schedule your breaks as usual and adhere diligently to them.
3. Don't jeopardise your physical fitness & mental health!
Prioritise fresh air, exercise and virtual/tele social time to break up your indoor hours.
Now for the nitty - gritty.
1. Create a dedicated workspace
As tempting as it may be, make sure this isn't the same space in which you sleep, eat or watch Netflix.
2. Sit upright with support
If your chair doesn't have curved lower back support, try a small cushion or a rolled up towel fitted snugly into the small of your back. Make sure your feet can be placed flat on the ground.
3. Set your screen up right
Generally, we recommend the top of the screen be set at eye level or lower and that the screen is positioned about one arm's length away to reduce visual fatigue.
4. Consider your keyboard position
If you are someone who commonly experiences neck, shoulder, or arm strain in relation to computer work, you may benefit from creating some forearm support whilst typing. (For more information on how or when to do so, see "How to set up the keyboard" in Queensland Governments Ergonomic guide to computer based workstations.)
Since laptops are designed for short-term or mobile use, they can really challenge good working posture habits.
If you are using a laptop to WFH, separate components to supplement your computer set up are worthwhile investments. Consider a laptop support/stand to elevate your screen and a separate keyboard and mouse so that you can keep your screen at a safe distance whilst keeping your hands close to your body.
6. Move & change posture frequently
This is the final and most important point, because, simply, there is no perfect ergonomic position or workstation that is suitable for use all day.
It's important to frequently change posture or do something that changes up the muscles you are using. Extended periods in one posture can lead to fatigue or overload in parts of the body. We know it's better to take several short breaks rather than one long one (i.e. going for a run over lunch sadly still doesn't make up for the fact that you sat watching your screen for four hours straight - especially if you do it every day).
Postural breaks don't need to involve taking a break from work. You could change the type of work you are dong, eg. make phone calls instead of typing up a report. You could even stand while making your phone calls.
These cover the ergonomic points of WFH. For more information, please check out these resources:
Queensland governments Ergonomic guide to computer based work stations https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/83067/guide-ergo-comp-workstations.pdf, or
Worksafe Victoria's Officewise- a guide to health and safety in the office. This is a great resource which offers clear guidelines on "Office layout, workstations and equipment", "Working with computers" and also recommends " Exercise for workers" in the appendices. Available atathttps://content.api.worksafe.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018-06/ISBN-Officewise-guide-to-health-and-safety-in-the-office-2006-01.pdf
If you have children at home while you are trying to work, I really do feel for you. I have no children and no tips, since when I asked my colleagues if they had any advice on how to manage kids, their responses were probably not printable - haha.
Happy WFH everyone. Stay safe and stay home.
We'll see you on the other side!
To book a face to face or telehealth appointment with any of our Physiotherapists, Podiatrists or Dietitian, simply call us on 9372 8091 or book online at www.instridehealthclinic.om.au