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The dos and don’ts of working from home

The dos and don’ts of working from home
Many across the world are now working from home in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. Kitchen tables, bedroom dressers and more are becoming the new work station. With this, many are working in ergonomic environments that are not necessarily ideal. Your chair may not have proper back support or your kitchen counter may be too high.  Poor ergonomics can make your work from home environment more of a hindrance than it should. 

Kelly Holt, DNP, Carle Family & Occupational Medicine, says that your work environment can have a direct impact on your health as well as your ability to concentrate and perform duties. 

“When your home becomes your work space every day, you need to ensure that you are not only comfortable, but also proactive in preventing any pain or health complications in the future,” Holt said. “It’s important to take the time to make sure you use appropriate ergonomics in your work from home environment.” 

Carle Occupational Medicine offers these “dos and don’ts” for making sure you maintain a comfortable, ergonomically correct workspace. 

DO work at an appropriate height

Find a working height so that your elbows naturally fall flush with your table/desk height. This will promote better wrist alignment rather than impingement or carpal tunnel stress.

DO use an office chair if possible

Adjustable features on an office task chair will save you from lumbar and neck discomfort. When sitting or standing, elbows should be at a 90-degree angle to make wrists as straight as possible. 

DO follow the 20/20/20 rule 

For every 20 minutes spent looking at a computer screen, you should spend 20 seconds looking at something else 20 feet away. This gives your eye muscles a break and helps reduce eye strain.

DO customize a space to fit you

Try to set up a workstation that you can make entirely your own. Sharing a workstation means you need to adjust your computer height, chair, and furniture every time you sit down. Often, you may choose to skip adjusting the workstation altogether. If you are the only person using the space, customizing will reduce the time and discomfort of sitting at a station that does not fit you.

DO make sure you get up and walk around

The goal is to get in as many steps as possible during the day, even if you are at home instead of on campus.

DON’T give up on your current chair

If you don’t have the option of an office chair, there are some household items you can use to help you adjust. Putting a firm cushion or tightly folded towel under your buttocks will raise your hips and increase the curve of your spine, making sitting more comfortable.

DON’T let your feet dangle

Place your feet on a few books or boxes under your desk, so that your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor and your hips are slightly higher than your knees. This will reduce stress on your lumbar spine. 

DON’T hunch over your laptop

Fit the backrest curvature of your chair to the small of the lower back to avoid lumbar discomfort. 

Working from your laptop on the weekend may be simple, but doing so for 40 hours a week can increase strain on your back, neck and shoulders. If you can, use an external monitor or laptop stand (with an external keyboard and mouse) to prop up your screen. When looking at the screen, your eye line should be level with the address bar on your web browser.

DON’T turn your couch into a workstation

As tempting as it is, the couch is not an optimal place to work at your computer for the entire day. Although it may be comfortable, having your legs or full body in a vertical position can lead to muscle numbness and discomfort.

DON’T skip lunch and make sure you stay hydrated

It’s easy to snack throughout the day instead of eating like you did in the office. Making a meal and staying hydrated gives you the opportunity to stand up, walk around, and let your eyes have a rest from the computer screen.

Categories: Staying Healthy

Tags: “work, coronavirus, ergonomics, from, home”, occupational, workers

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