One benefit of remote work is the flexibility of work stations. You may choose to work at the kitchen table, on the couch, or anywhere else that seems agreeable. Without a commute, you may also have some extra time to work on other projects around the house. While these extra options are certainly a welcome change, they can quickly become a source of pain and stress if your body is left unsupported. Whether you’re moving around the house or in a single work station, ergonomics is key to reducing strain on your body and preventing injuries. The five key ergonomics princples are:
Here are some tips for supporting each of these issues in both hands-on work and desk work:
Whatever project you are working on, make sure you work in a neutral posture, avoiding any unnecessary strain on your body. Avoid exerting a lot of force and reduce any stressful movements. Keep frequently used items close to avoid twisting or turning too often. Finally, always lift with your legs, never your back.
Make sure you are using the right tools and set up for the job. Attempting to use ill-suited tools or an incorrect setup may lead to misusage and injury. Also, keep your work areas well-lit to ensure smooth operation without any misjudgments or eye strain.
Above all, rest is the most important asset to a successful job. Make sure you get sufficient rest each day and night and take breaks from working throughout the day. Varying your tasks will also help you avoid overworking yourself without thinking.
When you set down at your desk or table, adjust your chair and footrest as needed to ensure that your neck and shoulders may assume a relaxed, tension-free posture. Center your body in line with the middle of the monitor so that you are looking straight ahead at your computer—the top of the monitor should be at your eye level. Make sure you have adequate lower-back support. Position your elbows, hips, and knees at 90-degree angles, and place your feet flat on the floor or support them with a footrest, do not let them dangle from your chair.
Your wrists are essential to computer work, so protect them from strain by ensuring they remain in a neutral position, away from sharp or hard edges. Position your keyboard, monitor, and mouse so that your wrists, arms, and neck are relaxed, and make sure the mouse is at the same height and distance from the screen as the keyboard. If you’re using a laptop computer, use a separate keyboard, mouse, and monitor as much as possible.
Sitting in one chair all day can easily lead to bad posture and a strained body. To avoid this, make sure your work surface is at the appropriate height for correct posture, outlined in the first point. Sit the correct distance away from the monitor, about 25 inches. Make sure you can easily read the text on your screen, and keep your work area well lit.
Just as in hands-on work, successful desk work depends on good rest. Get proper rest every night and take breaks from work to stretch your legs and walk around throughout the day. Give your eyes a break by following the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, stop staring at your computer screen and focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Change positions at least every hour to give your body a break as well.
Without proper attention, the perks of remote work can easily become the very things that make us resent working from home. Keep remote work safe and pain-free by remembering these ergonomics tips, and enjoy your time at home!