Working from Home


June 5, 2020

Like many, several months ago you grabbed your laptop and a few other items from your desk at the office and set out to work from home for what you thought was maybe for a few weeks.  Your new reality is that this looks a bit more semi-permanent, at least for now.  So, what are you going to do?

Working from home can be challenging with distractions, sharing tight spaces with others and it can be especially tough if you do not have access to a dedicated workspace.  The biggest risk is likely how you are physically working.  Do you have your equipment set up correctly?  Is your body correctly supported? How is the lighting?  There are many factors to consider but the following tips can get you on the right path on a low budget.

  1. Select an area of your home that is best suited for productive work.  This could be a spare bedroom, a corner in the basement, the rarely used dining room or even a closet if its big enough.  You get bonus points if the space has a door for privacy and good lighting.

  2. In addition to your laptop you need a good, adjustable chair, a worksurface, a separate monitor, keyboard, and mouse and possibly a task light. 

  3. Your chair is your first line of defense against bad posture.  Choose one that has adjustable height and depth for the seat, adjustable lumbar and adjustable arms.  If you do not have one and need to use a kitchen or dining room chair, be sure to add a pillow or cushion to the seat and roll up a towel to use as a lumbar cushion.  Do you have the option to “borrow” your chair from the office?  Its worth asking and especially worth your time to go into the office and get it. 

  4. Using a laptop on its own without a separate monitor, keyboard and mouse for long periods of time can cause lots of fatigue.  With the design of a laptop, you are forced to tilt your head down to see the screen which rounds your shoulders and puts a lot of stress on your neck and upper back.  Investing in these separate tools is money well spent.  But, if you don’t have a budget for that, raise your laptop to eye level by placing it up on some books or reams of paper and turn it into just a monitor and use a wireless keyboard and mouse.  This will help a lot and the cost of keyboards can be minimal but worth it.  Did you have these items back at the office?  If so, can you ask to borrow them along with your chair?

  5. Check your light levels on your desk and glare on your screen.  Be sure you have adequate lighting to read papers on your desk and see your keyboard.  An inexpensive desk lamp can go a long way to brighten your space.  Also, watch out for glare on your screen from windows and overhead lighting.  By simply repositioning your monitor a few degrees, you can eliminate or reduce this glare.  Inadequate lighting and glare can cause eye strain and headaches over time so its worth the effort to fix this problem right away.

  6. Take frequent breaks to stretch and relax muscles.  At least once an hour, stand up and stretch.  Look for opportunities to move around.  Do you have a conference call? If so, that’s a great time to take a walk outside or around the house.  Use your technology to let you know when its time to move.  Its also great to stand while you are working when you can.  If you don’t have a sit-to-stand desk, take you laptop to the kitchen counter and stand and work there for a while.

Developing good habits while working that include proper posture and movement will pay off big if you stick to them.  If you already had these good habits when you were at the office, its worth taking the time to reestablish them.  Look for the benefits of this new work from home lifestyle and partner them with good habits and you will have an enjoyable experience while still meeting the demands of your career.

If you need help, Be Well Ergo can walk you through each of these points in further detail and can provide a customized workstation evaluation and adjustment suggestions, either in person or virtually.  Contact us to help you sit and feel better.