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Five Main Elements of an Ergonomic Home Office Space

13 Jan. 2022
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The remote working era is upon us, and if you’re one of those facing the year with more at-home work hours on your schedule, you’ll need to spend some time thinking about setting up an ergonomic work pace. If you’re unsure what an ergonomic workspace is, wait for that first niggling neck or back pain after a few days or weeks working from home, and you’ll be inspired to learn everything there is to know about it!

Ergonomic Work Spaces

Ergonomic workspaces are set up to capitalize on posture and comfort. Your neck isn’t bent down or twisted, your arms don’t need to over-extend or stretch, your spine is perfectly aligned, and you feel at ease throughout the workday. In short, your workspace doesn’t work against you physically. As a result, you can be productive for longer.

In this article, we focus on the five main elements of ergonomic home office spaces as follows:

1. Neck and head comfort

2. Position of wrists and hands

3. Back support

4. Equipment and accessory set up

5. Regular movement and stretching

Setting Up an At-Home Ergonomic Work Space

How do you achieve perfect ergonomics for your workspace? It comes down to focusing on the five main elements that support an ergonomic home office space. Explore each aspect below.

1. Neck and head comfort

Remote working related injuries are a real thing, especially if you’re sitting in such a way that your neck is strained or at the wrong position. Your neck should be vertical to your head to ensure minimal strain. For example, let’s say that you’re working on your laptop on the kitchen counter. In this case, the screen will probably be very low, causing you to flex your neck forward.

While this won’t cause any permanent damage immediately, it can become problematic over the long term. Using a laptop riser and an external mouse along with an external keyboard can help minimize neck strain and subsequent headaches. When your computer screen and eye level are correct, your head and neck will be in a neutral position.

2. Position of wrists and hands

Most people sit with their wrists bent, causing strain on both the wrists and hands. The correct position for your hands and wrists is a neutral one. If your desk height is right, you should be able to place your arm and hand on the table, and they should lay flat. When using your keyboard and mouse, your arms should not bend inwards or out to the side of your body.

To ensure that your wrists and hands are in a neutral position, you need to adjust your seat height (or desk height if possible) and position your keyboard and mouse to more comfortable positions.

3. Back support

The ideal seated position ensures that your chair offers lower back support. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and you can lean back slightly (you don’t have to sit bolt upright). Placing a small cushion on your chair to support your lower back will also provide proper lumbar support if you don’t have a desk chair that specifically offers it.

4. Equipment and accessory set up

If you’re creating a remote working space at home, you’ll need to ensure that everything you need is within an easy reaching distance. For example, if your printer is on an awkward shelf behind your desk and you have to stand on tip-toes and stretch to reach it, you’re going to end up straining a muscle or having an accident.

The best thing to do is sit in your seat and position the items you use consistently within reaching distance. If you have larger equipment that you need to use, position them in the room in easy-to-access positions.

5. Regular movement and stretching

While many people assumed that remote working from home would mean less work and more free time, it has meant the opposite for many. Always being at work without the distractions of other people and the outside world can lead to throwing yourself into work for many hours. Unfortunately, that means many hours seated in front of the computer.

Researchers say that you should focus on some movement at least every 20 minutes, whether to stretch, stand up, walk around your desk, or make a cup of tea/coffee. Regular activity increases comfort and performance as well as circulation. In addition, it can essentially fend off those pesky aches and pains that come from working at a desk for long hours.

One more modern recommendation is to invest in a standing desk that offers many benefits, including burning more calories, reducing back pain, boosting energy levels, and improving productivity.

Last Word

Before simply grabbing your laptop and heading for the couch for eight hours of work, put some thought into how your posture, position, and equipment will affect your long-term comfort and health. The more ergonomic your workspace is, the more you will get done and the more comfortable and relaxed you will be at the end of the day. 

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