Working from Home

We are all adjusting to new ways of doing things, including working from home or taking classes online.

When you’re working or studying from home, you may find yourself at a new workstation such as the dining room table.  Working at a non-ergonomic workstation can cause low back pain, shoulder strain, neck pain, and headaches.  To prevent these injuries, it is important to take the time to set up a good workstation at home.

Adult VideoCheck out our video on Working and Studying from Home.

The Right Space
First, find a space in your home where you can be productive, with good lighting, and a space with a desk or table surface and a chair.
If you do not have a desk, a dining room or kitchen table is a common place to set up a workstation.  Resist the urge to work from the couch or bed. These spaces weren’t designed to be used as a workstation and can be hard on your back and neck.

The Right Equipment
Your work surface or table-top should be the height of a typical desk, with your chair fitting nicely under the work surface and your elbows and wrists supported at 90-degree angles. Find a comfortable that supports your back.  You can use a small pillow or rolled up towel to support your lower back if needed, making sure your hips and shoulders still touch the seat.

The Right Set-Up
It’s important to use good posture.  Avoid sitting on the end of the chair, hunched over your computer, or slouching in your chair. Sit with your hips to the back of your chair, squarely facing your workstation.  Knees are bent at a 90-degree angle and feet firmly on the floor.  If you need additional support, place something sturdy under your feet.  Sit up straight with your ears lined up with your shoulders, and elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.

Your screen should be roughly arms length away from your eyes, with the top of your  at eye level. It’s important that you aren’t bending your neck down to view the screen. Use books or a box to raise your screen up to eye level. With your screen raised up, use a separate keyboard and mouse so that  your elbows are aligned with the keyboard height. If needed, you can roll up a towel and place it under your wrists for extra support.

Stand Up Desk
Sitting for too long is hard on your body, so alternate your posture by standing up. You can make a stand-up desk by using an elevated surface in your home, such as a kitchen island.  Raise your screen to eye level using books or a box, and place your keyboard and mouse on a lower surface to maintain that 90-degree bend in your elbow.  Standing on a yoga mat or anti-stress mat can reduce strain on your legs and lower back. It’s important to alternate your postures throughout the day, whether sitting or standing.

Stretch and Move
Remember to get up and move or stretch at least every half hour.  Getting up out of your chair allows your muscles to change position and avoid being in one position for too long.
Try out some stretches from our Office Stretches handout which you can find here:

To avoid eyestrain, use the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes looking at your computer screen, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. When viewing your mobile device, position it at eye level rather than stretching your neck forward to look down. Check out more information on how to avoid Tech Neck.

Working from the Couch
Working from the couch is not recommended, as the seat does not allow you to maintain good sitting posture which can lead to back pain. If you need to work from the couch, only do it for a short period of time.

Avoid slouching back on the couch with your head straining forward to see the laptop on your knees and avoid sitting on the edge of the couch hunched over your laptop on a coffee table.

To minimize back pain, move your hips all the way to the back of the couch, feet planted firmly on the floor. Use a pillow to support your lower back.  Place a pillow on your knees to raise your device higher and avoid bending your neck forward.

Again, this is not an ergonomic position to work from, so only do it for a short period of time.

Working from the Bed
Working from the bed is not recommended, as the surface does not appropriately support your body. This can lead to back pain and other musculoskeletal issues. If you need to work from the bed, only do it for a short period of time.

Avoid laying on your back and propping your head up with pillows or sitting cross- legged on the bed leaning over the laptop.  These positions can lead to back and neck strain, headaches, and knee and hip issues.

Sit with your hips back against the wall or headboard.  Use a pillow to support your lower back. Place another pillow on your lap to raise your laptop up higher.

Again, this is not an ergonomic position to work from, so only do it for a short period of time.

We hope these tips help you set up your workstation at home to make the most of your work or study day!