You would assume that this far into the pandemic work from home setups have become sophisticated, but that is not necessarily the case. At first, employees thought this was temporary, therefore did not put a lot of effort into their setup. Also, it is still hard to find some types of office furniture and accessories due to the demand. In this session at RIMS 2021, Lisa Orr from Sedgwick discussed the essentials for putting ergonomics into practice while working from home.
1. Laptop Essentials. If working solely on a laptop, the proper setup for typing puts the monitor too low for viewing. If the screen is set higher for viewing, the keyboard is too high for typing. At a minimum, workers should get a separate keyboard and mouse to give more adjustability.
2. Height Matters. The keyboard and mouse should be elbow height. This minimizes risk by providing relaxed postures. If working at a kitchen or dining room table, raise the chair and use a footrest for support. If that is not possible, you can purchase a height-adjustable laptop table. Make sure it is wide enough to support the keyboard and mouse together.
3. Monitor Positioning. The top of the screen should be eye level. This could be done with a laptop raiser or even accomplished with something as accessible as stacking a few books under the laptop. However, only raise the laptop if you have a separate keyboard and mouse to position below.
4. Sitting Pretty. The chair should be comfortable, support the lower back, and not be too deep so that the user can lean against it. Armrests are preferable; make sure they are not situated so high to prevent from providing close proximately to the computer. Pillows can help make the chair fit better. If purchasing a new chair, try it before you buy it.
5. New Desk Features. If buying a new desk for the home office, try to find something that is height adjustable. The standard desk is typically 29 inches tall, which can often be too high for most.
6. Incorporate Standing. There are many options to incorporate standing throughout the workday. Take the laptop to a counter during a meeting or use an inverted crate, laundry basket or ironing board as a temporary break from sitting. For something more permanent, there are plenty of sit/stand desks on the market at increasingly economical prices. Keep in mind that many of those desks do not lower more than the surface you intend to set it on, so they will not help if the base desk is improper height.
7. Take Breaks. This is something we do in the office and is equally important to do at home. Often employees are sitting for longer when they work from home because they do not get those natural interruptions for meetings or co-worker visits. Moving is particularly important if the setup is not ergonomically perfect. Set calendar reminders to move or walk around when on the phone.