There are numerous reasons to transform your work-from-home office setup into a more comfortable place to work in. Poor workplace ergonomics has caused many unwanted physical conditions, including carpal tunnel syndrome, fatigue, tendonitis, and increased stress levels. Today, where most, if not all employees are performing their work tasks and responsibilities at home, it is even more compelling to prioritize comfort and productivity by turning your home workspace into the ideal home office.
Though it would seem like quite an investment to make, the positive effects on your productivity and well-being are worth every penny you give to it. Read below and see how you can convert your house into your dream ergonomic workspace.
Assess and Convert
Before you invest in the best ergonomic office chair in the market or pay an interior designer to transform your bedroom into a home office worth a thousand dollars, it is important to know what an ergonomic home office really means. Well, for starters, an ergonomic home office is a space that allows an employee to work comfortably for long periods.
You do not need a lot of furniture to achieve this, but the ones you have should support your body enough to sustain long working hours. Some companies allow their employees to bring home their work equipment, so it would be great to ask your management for this opportunity. While it is true that it would be too much to ask for a full-blown home office set, perhaps you can first request for an ergonomic desk chair to somehow lessen your expenses in converting your home into an office space.
For Head and Neck Protection
The goal is to keep your head vertical to your neck to prevent you from getting neck, shoulder, or back injuries. There are laptop risers that you can buy online. External keyboards and mouses that would enable your body to work correctly are also available.
If you are working with a laptop, place it on a surface that is not too low. And if you are using a personal computer, be sure to elevate the monitor to an angle that will not require your neck to forward-flex. A couple of books could do the trick here.
If you prefer working on a desk where everything—your books, eyeglasses, desk clock, and other work-related things are found—then you can opt to purchase an office chair with a headrest. Chiropractors and orthopedic surgeons from the New York University Winthrop Hospital detailed in this article the best choices when considering investing in an ergonomic chair that helps you maintain a neutral posture. Amazon also trimmed down the list of the best office chairs for posture to help ease the stress in deciding which chair to order.
For Correct Hand and Wrist Positioning
The ideally neutral pose for your hands and wrist should be done by extending your arm and hand forward on the table. It prevents your arms from bending out to the side and reaching across the midline of the body. While they are on the same level on the same surface, it would also be good to avoid putting any hinges on the wrist.
To achieve this, you have to consider the height of your table and chair as well as the position of your mouse and keyboard. With this, you can easily adjust by moving your desk close to or away from you. Arranging your ergonomic desk setup the right way will help you attain these right hand and wrist positioning requirements when working with a computer.
For Back and Spine Comfort
The 90-degree sitting angle has been a great myth. A better option is finding the best posture that would let you see the screen without any eyestrain and provide stable back support. Such a position is very similar to what you do while driving your car which is slightly leaning back to your seat.
Now because such a position is difficult to maintain, there are some easy remedies that can help you with this. First off, there are affordable chair cushions for excellent lumbar support. Ergonomic Trends enumerates the best office chairs under $100 and provides links to Amazon so you could purchase them online (READ: Best Ergonomic Office Chairs Under and Around $100- Low Budget but High Quality). Another investment could be the orthopedic seats that tilt your pelvis into the correct ergonomic position.
If you are height-challenged, a footrest will prevent your feet from dangling and therefore provide the right posture. A posture office chair that has adjustable lumbar support can also be purchased from Amazon.
Those struggling with lower back pain can buy lumbar support pillows that increase your comfort as they lay on the back of your pelvis. Another option is to roll a towel and place it right between your lower back and chair. You can also put a nice pillow or folded fluffy towel on your chair for that extra comfort.
For the Eyes and Feet
Reading your monitor or screen for hours does take its toll on your eyes. So you need to rest them. But follow the 20/20/20 rule which is to stop looking at the monitor after 20 minutes and look at something that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This simply relaxes the eyes and lets you continue reading for as long as you want.
As for your feet, elevating them or just stretching your legs can increase circulation. The best way to do this is to keep your hips and thighs at a 90-degree angle while sitting down. All you need is a footstool. If you’re the fancy type, a reclining chair does the trick.
So whether you have the means or not, nothing should stop you from making your home office the most ergonomic for your working needs.
The truth is, investing in an ergonomic home office setup can, quite frankly, be expensive. But it is called an investment for a reason—to increase your productivity. This is especially true considering this whole pandemic situation will not be going away anytime soon; thus, you are going to be stuck working at home for more time than you could ever expect. So invest in the best desk chairs, have a home office expert draw up your ergonomic home office design, and transform your room into an office you are comfortable working in. Remember that these are investments that will last for a long time. (READ: The Pros and Cons of Working Remotely)
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I make my home office ergonomically correct?
An ergonomically correct home office is a comfortable workspace that will make you feel comfortable working in and possibly even increase your productivity by tons. The following are suggestions in giving your home office a makeover:
- Chair. Your chair should support your spinal curves. Make sure to adjust it until your feet rest flat on the floor or a comfortable footrest. Your thighs should also be parallel to the floor, and your armrests adjusted until your arms and shoulders feel more relaxed.
- Desk. Make sure that the height of your desk is the most comfortable height it can be for you. If it is too low, you can place sturdy boards or blocks under the legs, or when it is too high, you can raise your chair. To avoid back problems, avoid storing items under your desk to keep yourself from bending over often just to reach those items.
- Monitor. The monitor of your personal computer should be directly in front of you and about an arm’s length from your body. The brightest light source should also be found on the side of the monitor.
Transforming your room into an ergonomic home office is further elaborated by Mayo Clinic. (READ: Office Ergonomics: Your How-To Guide)
How do I set up a home office for a budget?
You can set up a budget home office by following these tips:
- Find a comfortable area. Defining your work office space will give you a headstart on the layout and planning of your workspace. Perhaps a corner in the living room or a spare room can be a viable space for you to work in.
- Use what you have. Do not spend what is beyond your means. If you are not allergic to paint, you can learn how to and paint your workspace yourself just to reduce the expenses. You can also recycle the things you have to avoid spending on unnecessary office decorations.
- Buy quality equipment. Make sure that you purchase quality and long-lasting ergonomic home office equipment. If you see on the internet cheap ergo chairs, work desks, and whatnot, make it a responsibility to verify if these are legitimate and quality items. Most of the time, when these items are sold for very low prices, they are knockoffs, so make sure that cheap prices do not deceive you.
How do you set up the perfect home office?
In setting up a home office, “perfect” is just a subjective term. In other words, you define what is the perfect home office for you. The ideal home office could mean the most comfortable place to work in, or the place that instantly increases your productivity. Nonetheless, here are some universal tips on setting up a comfortable home office:
- Prioritize comfort. It does not matter that you have the best home office desk chair or the most pricey work supplies. If you are not comfortable with your setup, you will end up regretting purchasing these equipment. Make it a goal to provide yourself with the comfort you deserve while performing your responsibilities in your company.
- Choose vibrant colors. The colors of your workplace should embody your personality. This increases your chances of performing well at work because you love your workplace’s ambiance and atmosphere just because of the vibrant colors surrounding it.
- Add privacy. Your office is your sanctuary. It will be reasonable to feel mad when someone in your family just walks into your office like their property. Choose an area only a few have access to. With this, you could avoid other people messing up your office setup.
Should your feet be flat when sitting?
Yes. Your feet should be flat on the floor. If your feet cannot reach the floor and your chair is already adjusted to the lowest possible height, you can put a footrest underneath your desk to let your feet lie flat on the floor.
Is sitting on the ground good for you?
When done correctly, sitting on the floor can improve your flexibility and mobility, allowing you to stretch your lower body actively. This also promotes the natural stabilization of the core muscles. However, if this is done incorrectly, it could give you pain and discomfort, leading to back issues.
What are the symptoms of bad posture?
According to Better Health Channel, lousy posture as a result of incorrectly sitting on your office chair while at work include the following:
- Rounded shoulders.
- Bent knees when standing or walking.
- Back pain.
- Body aches.
- Muscle fatigue.
What is an ergonomic workplace?
An ergonomic workplace is a comfortable area where you can perform your duties and responsibilities at work. Others call their workplace their “sanctuary” because this makes them feel productive and helps them accomplish more work due to the comfort and ergonomics brought by the setup in general.