Working comfortably at home just takes some thought. These traps and tips will help you set up or rearrange your home workstation with an ergonomic approach.
- Using a laptop is never good for our bodies. It is almost impossible to use a lap-top with a good spinal posture, good shoulder and arm posture.
- Kitchen and dining chairs are rarely suitable. These chairs do not height adjust-ability and usually don’t have good lumbar support. They often don’t have very much padding on the seat. All together this makes for a pretty uncomfortable and unsuitable chair.
- Kitchen and dining tables and older style writing desks are higher than office desks. This might make them a good height for you if you’re tall (and have a higher chair) but for most people the table’s height will force you to key in unnaturally high. They also can have a frame or drawer under the top which will stop you from sitting at the right height.
- You’ve decided to get a chair for your home office and are drawn to the large, high backed leather chairs with armrests. These chairs can feel comfortable to sit in when you’re in the shop, but once you’re at your desk you’ll discover the problems. The armrests can stop you from sitting close enough to the desk. The backrest which is slightly reclined (and why if felt comfortable and relaxing when you tried it out) doesn’t support your back when you start using the computer.
- Using a laptop on the desk (or worse still, on your lap or kitchen table). Laptops are really only safe to use for quite short periods of time. If you’re doing more than a few minutes of work you shouldn’t use a laptop.
- The room layout – Try to have any computer screen not facing a window.
- The desk – Use a desk which suits your height. Lower if you are shorter and higher if you’re taller. If you can afford it, consider a standing desk. After working all day sitting, and driving home, the last thing your body needs is more sitting!
- The chair – Invest in your health with a good office chair. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for with office chairs. Less cost usually means less adjustability and lower quality foam and mechanism. A fully adjustable quality chair with will start at about $300. Over its 10-year life it will cost you less that 60c a week!
- The laptop – Use the laptop, but with a separate keyboard and mouse. Put the laptop on a laptop stand (or pile of books or box) which brings the top of the screen level with the eyes. Better still, plug the laptop into a full size monitor and use this.
- The position – Make sure you sit with the keyboard at about your elbow level. If your feet are not firmly on the floor at this height you need a footrest.
View Back Centre’s huge range of footrests.
Written by Judy Ross, Registered Occupational Therapist