10 Tips For Designing An Ergonomic Home Office Setup
According to a recent study by Stanford University, “42 percent of the U.S. labor force now works from home full-time” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For many new at-home workers, working from home meant plopping your laptop on the kitchen counter or sitting on your plush sofa to get the job done.
A make-shift office was all you had to get through this temporary working arrangement. However, as the weeks turned into months, you are most likely beginning to figure out your temp office isn’t so great for your back and other parts of your body.
Why Are Ergonomics Important?
Most individuals know that ergonomics has to do with the”relaxation” of different things, but there’s more to the concept than how an object feels and looks. Ergonomics has a direct effect on your physical and psychological health.
“Ergonomic means your setup supports your body properly,” says Jamie Gold, a Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach, and author. “This can cause fewer neck and back pains, headaches, less eye strain, and less risk of repetitive stress injury,” she says. “Any one or more of those from a non-ergonomic setup can lead to a work slowdown or the need to take time off.”
An ergonomic space will keep you comfortable and help increase productivity and overall well-being. “When we think about ergonomics, we often relegate our ideas to comfy seating, appropriate desk dimensions, screen height, and can get as granular as the type of mouse or keyboard you use,” states Sherri Monte, a Seattle-based interior designer, home organizer, and educator. “While these things are important, what is missing in the interaction or ergonomics of our workstation is our wellbeing,” Monte says.
When you are comfortable and your body is properly aligned, you’re happier. And, a happy employee is more effective. Having an ergonomic workspace benefits you and your organization. The fantastic news is that creating an ergonomic home office isn’t time consuming or expensive. Gold and Monte share some of their practical strategies on how to transform your home office into a comfy and stylish space.
Declutter Your Workspace
Decluttering always seems the first step in many makeovers. Beginning with a blank slate makes the job quicker and easier. Clutter affects productivity. Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute found that clutter/messes can drain our cognitive resources and decrease the ability to concentrate.
Monte says that decluttering and organizing your space makes it functional, inspiring, and magnificent. “Start by removing the excess and categorize each zone for exactly what you need,” suggests Monte,”this allows you to understand everything you’ve got on your office space so that you can clearly make decisions about what to keep versus what you want to get rid of.”
It’s ideal to begin with your desk. Monte suggests determining what you typically use while working at your desk. Make those items easily accessible and eliminate the rest. “You do not want it to feel overloaded with numerous office supplies or decorative tchotchkes you can not actually do the job,” says Monte.
Focus on Posture
We’ve all heard that timeless advice to”stand up straight.” However, what does this have to do with working at home? Good posture, whether it’s from standing or sitting, helps you center your weight correctly. Appropriate posture reduces your chance of accidents. Good posture should be practiced while sitting or standing. For proper posture, remember to keep:
- Chin parallel to the ground
- shoulders even
- neutral spine
- buttocks even
- body weight distributed evenly on both feet (when standing)
- thighs parallel and your knees bent to 90-degrees when sitting
Adjust Desk Height
Do you sit or stand at your desk most of the time? Maybe you do a mix of both. “If your office is tailor-made for you and customized to your workflow, you will see a better sense of satisfaction in the work you do,” says Monte. The recommended desk height for sitting is 25 to 27.5 inches, based on your height. Your elbows and underarms should lie straight on the desktop and on the armrests of your chair with a 90- to 110-degree angle at the elbow.
If your desk is too low, Gold recommends using a desk riser. They are an affordable way to position your monitor and keyboard at comfortable levels. If you choose to stand, the recommended height is 35 to 47 inches. According to a report published by Harvard Health Publishing,”standing, as opposed to sitting, may lower the possibility of shoulder and back pain.” Gold says if you are going to use a desk, use an anti-fatigue mat as well. Anti-fatigue mats reduce discomfort to the feet, legs, and back while standing for extended periods.
Get the Correct Chair
“If you have a history of lower back issues, the first thing you might want to do is make sure your desk chair supports your lower back,” suggests Gold,”and you have room to stand and walk around at regular intervals to take some pressure off of it.” Your desk chair should prevent you from leaning and straining. When you sitall the way back in your seat so that your backside reaches the backrest–your spine doesn’t need to be flush against the back of the seat. When there’s a gap between your back and the chair, you require lumbar support. Use a low-back or lumbar pillow to fill in that area. If your budget permits, update to a comfy office chair that supports your back.
Improve Your Lighting
Your available light may have a significant effect on productivity, wellness, and preventing Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), also known as digital eye strain. Well-distributed, diffused light will reduce eye strain and glare on computer monitors. Also, proper lighting lets you view and perform your non-computer tasks better.
If your existing workspace lacks good lighting, you can achieve proper lighting with desk lamps. Pick a lamp that provides clean, cool light that mimics daylight. Also, a lamp with an adjustable dimmer will permit you to customize your lighting in your desk.
“Permit as much natural light to filter in your office as possible,” suggests Monte,”working from home can sometimes feel a little bit isolating but one thing that always seems to enhance your energy level is embracing the pure light.” Natural light has the power to make you more alert and energized–ideal for getting your work done.
Take Several Breaks
The human body was not designed to sit for long periods of time. “Get up from your desk at regular intervals and get a few minutes of real movement in,” says Gold. Taking multiple breaks throughout the day will make it possible for you to decompress your spine, stretch, and adjust your seat, if necessary. Function in increments of 25 to 28 minutes, then take a five-minute break and walk around. Moving benefits both psychological and physical health. If you’re seeking a more structured program to keep track of work time/breaks, consider using the Pomodoro technique.
Even though some offices and businesses have reopened with safety precautions in place, the work-from-home trend is expected to continue into the first quarter of 2021. A Stanford study found that corporations are developing plans for more work-from-home choices past the pandemic–your home office may be your new permanent office. Whether you’re working from home since pandemic or distant full-time, setting up an ergonomic home office will help keep you physically and mentally healthier and productive.