Are you working from home due to COVID-19?
No worries! Let’s get you comfortable.
Claim Your Space
Create a separate and distinct work space in your home, even if it is just in the corner of a room. This is essential for your concentration, privacy and overall working mind-set. It’s best to set yourself up at a desk, table or other flat, stable surface that can accommodate your computer (laptop), monitor and mouse.
Know Your Patterns
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is staying focused without succumbing to distractions. Therefore, knowing your rhythms will go a long way to keeping you on your game.
A few questions you might want to consider:
What will your new routine look like? At what time of day are you most productive? Early mornings, after a healthy breakfast? Mid-afternoons or late at night, once everyone else is sound asleep?
If you participate in video calls, what does your work space look like? Will people see an unmade bed or piles of laundry and dirty dishes? Do you prefer background music, white noise or complete silence to help you concentrate?
Home Tip: Even though you are at home, try hard to treat work like work. Keep a reasonable routine and set clear and defined boundaries between work and personal life. Start each day by getting dressed, reviewing your schedule, making a to-do list, thus getting into an “I’m at work” mind-set.
It’s safe to say that you sit a lot during your workday. Your chair doesn’t have to be fancy, just one that offers you decent back support and allows you to type and mouse with your shoulders and elbows at the correct levels. Here are some guidelines to help you sit with healthy posture.
Adjust your seat pan so that your knees are level with or slightly lower than your hips with your feet are flat on the floor. If your feet don’t reach the floor in your current chair, you can use a footrest, ream of paper or folded towels to achieve stability.
If you choose to sit against the back of your chair, make sure your lower back is supported and do your best to avoid slouching while you work. Also, strive to sit with an upright, balanced posture to minimize back strain.
Home Tip: If your chair isn’t adjustable, use pillows for lumbar support and sit on folded towels or a flat pillow to raise your height.
Keyboard and Mouse
Keep your keyboard and mouse (as well as your phone, tablet, notebook and other desktop items) as close to you as possible, and make sure they are placed at or slightly below your elbows. Add pillows or folded towels to your chair if you need extra height (while making sure your feet remain supported).
Monitor & Screens
To avoid slouching, make sure your screens, including computer monitors, laptops, tablets and phones are propped up and positioned directly in front of you, about an arm’s distance away and slightly below eye level. This is especially important when using a laptop, which when laid on a table, desk or lap will necessarily have the monitor below eye level.
To counter this effect, use a laptop riser or prop up your laptop on a box or stack of books and take advantage of, situation permitting, an external keyboard and mouse. Your back and neck will thank you!
Home Tip: If you can’t get your chair high enough or desktop low enough to have your keyboard and mouse at elbow height, try using a lap desk (store bought or homemade) to type and mouse.
While it’s best to work at a desk or table top, you may occasionally want to plop down on your couch or soft chair to get some work done. And that is fine! But remember, please use a lap desk and take a moment to ensure your back is supported (throw pillows work wonders) so that you are able maintain healthy and pain-free posture.
Kitchen Tables / Counters
Make sure to set yourself up so that your keyboard and mouse are at elbow height and that your monitor is at or slightly below eye level. This may mean that you have to sit on a pillow to raise your seating height. Whenever possible, use a laptop stand and external keyboard and mouse, even if you are only taking a brief respite from your main work area.
Home Tip: If you like to switch it up at home, please do so strategically. You may find that you perform certain active tasks better at your desktop while more passive pursuits such as chatting or video conferencing feel more relaxing from your couch. With minimal effort and a bit of planning you will find what works best!
Ergonomics at home doesn’t have to be fancy or store bought. Here are some common household items you can use to “support” your ergo needs!:
It’s easy to turn your ironing board into a sit-stand desk! If you need additional support to raise your monitor to eye level, try a laptop riser, a box or stack of books.
Don’t want to use your laptop directly on your lap? One to two inch 3-ring binders make a perfect lap desk. The binder’s incline, from edge to spine aligns with the slope of your legs and provides a relatively flat surface on which to place your laptop.
Pillows and Towels
Pillows and towels can provide simple but essential back support by adding both height and cushion to your chair, while at the same time providing stable support for dangling feet
If you need to raise the height of your monitor or laptop screen, stack up a few large books underneath to ensure your screens are at a comfortable viewing level for your head and neck.
Home Tip: Whether your music comes from your computer, Alexa, Google or the good old radio, music and other ambient sounds can help you concentrate and stay focused.