Ergonomic home office tips to save your back
In the age of working from home, backs and necks everywhere are suffering. Recently, many companies have announced permanent or part-time remote work arrangements. If that includes you, getting your home office set up correctly is essential to your overall well being. Typically, home offices are not ergonomically correct. You’ve probably heard that term before, but what does ‘ergonomic’ really mean? In this article, we’ll take you through the basics of ergonomic office setups and how to design your own home office to set you up for success in 2021 (no matter your budget).
The basics of ergonomic design
For desks and offices, ergonomic design employs techniques to improve efficiency and comfort. While you may think, “my couch is comfy, so it’s ergonomic,” that’s not necessarily true. To be truly ergonomic, both these concepts need to work together. Here are a few key elements of ergonomic home office design that can prevent tech neck and sore backs:
- Your computer monitor should be an arms length away from your face.
- The top of the computer monitor should be eye level. You don’t want to crane your neck up or down to see the screen.
- When typing, wrists should be straight with a 90-degree bend at the elbow. If you use a mouse or stylus, a similar setup applies.
- While sitting, knees should be level with your hips.
- Feet should rest flat on the floor, with a 90-degree angle at the knees.
Keep in mind that the type of work you do affects the type of equipment and setup you need. People who type for hours on end should focus on their keyboard alignment. While somebody who spends most of the day on the phone or on video calls should look at their posture relative to the phone or camera they use. Before splurging on top-of-the-line everything, evaluate what the most important factors are to getting your work done at home.
Setting up your home office space, without breaking the bank
Luckily, you don’t need to drop hundreds of dollars on a brand-new home office. To help get you set up for pain-free success, there are a few key adjustments you can make. And, to make it even easier, we’ve also broken it down by budget.
Working from home on laptops and computer monitors
One of the issues with working from home is limited equipment. If you use a laptop, chances are you spend more time looking down at the screen than you should. To prevent the dreaded tech neck pain, raise your monitor to be eye level with these easy hacks.
$$$ – If it’s in your budget, you can invest in a more advanced ergonomic setup. Try using an external monitor hooked up to the laptop to raise the screen. Some desks have adjustable arms to get the exact placement you need.
$$ – A monitor or laptop stand is a more affordable option. These come in a variety of different designs and styles.
$ – Looking for a free way to get more height? Stack up those books! You don’t need a fancy laptop or monitor stand to achieve ergonomic bliss. Using sturdy books, you can customize the height of your monitor or laptop!
Design tip: Note that if you use a laptop stand to lift the entire computer, you’ll likely need an external keyboard for typing.
Ergonomic home office desks and tables
Newsflash: your couch or bed is not an ergonomic desk. And it’s probably ruining your posture! Plus, you’ll be more productive if you have a space dedicated just for work. Even if you have a small apartment, there are solutions to make your home office work for you.
$$$ – Invest in an executive desk or electric standing desk. While these options can run the gamut in terms of price, it’s hard to beat the feeling of stepping up to a professional desk to get work done.
$$ – Luckily, you don’t need a fancy desk to get the job done. Most standard desks and tables are designed at an average height, and you can use some of the other hacks to get it ergonomically perfect for you.
$ – Don’t have any floor space to dedicate to a desk? Your kitchen table will do just fine. Or try a folding wall-mounted desk that conveniently stows when you’re done for the day.
Ergonomic office chairs for working at home
Most of us are used to sitting all day for work. However, without a proper office chair, many people are suddenly plagued with low back pain. To prevent the ache, try these home office chair adjustments for a more ergonomic setup.
$$$ – Ergonomic office chairs are designed with extra support to prevent back and neck pain. They often have added lumbar support, and are height-adjustable.
$$ – Any chair with a higher back and sturdy legs will do. There are a lot of stylish options out there, too! You can usually find comfortable swivel chairs and mid-century inspired picks for around $100.
$ – Only have a hard-backed kitchen chair? No problem. To make this chair work for you, add a lumbar cushion and seat cushion. You can even roll up a towel to support the lower back (for free!).
Ergonomic hack: If your chair is too tall, we recommend getting a footrest to promote correct hip alignment, too.
Work smarter, not harder
An ergonomic home office setup is just the first step. Good posture and alignment is important for preventing pain and discomfort. However, your overall wellbeing is important too! These small habits will help you reduce stress, be more productive, and improve your health while working at home.
- Take standing breaks. Once every hour, stand up from your desk. If you have a standing desk, you can continue working. You can also go get a glass of water, walk a lap around the block, or do some light stretching, too.
- Look away from your computer and phone frequently. To maintain eye health, try the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. There are also apps that remind you or darken your screen for you!
- Stay hydrated. It’s easy to get caught up in work and forget to stop water. Keep a water bottle or glass nearby. Set “sip reminders” so you don’t forget to drink up!
- Try these tips to boost your productivity while working from home.
- Get regular massages. Even if you have the best ergonomic home office furniture, nothing beats a professional massage to get you back in alignment. Especially when working from home, regular massages will help reduce stress and prevent back pain. With on-demand massages from Soothe, you can easily fit this wellness hack into your busy schedule, too.