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While the coronavirus continued to spread, many businesses asked their employees to work from home. For a majority of individuals who were going to be working from home for the first time, getting the correct home office setup presented a challenging problem – “Setting up an effective space that can be used for safe and productive work”.
Since many people don’t have proper office chairs, working for extended periods of time at the kitchen counter or hunched over a coffee table is not great for one's body and overall health.
In order to be extra cognizant of the body posture and routine, Dr. Dhurjati Majumdar, Vice President - Indian Society of Ergonomics discussed a few ways to stay comfortable and avoid back pain while working remotely for the foreseeable future.
It’s crucial that you vary your posture throughout the day because sitting in the same position or chair all day can lead to back, neck, and shoulder pain. For example, you might start your day at your kitchen table, then transition to a standing position or sit on a soft couch. Try to make it alternate every hour.
Placing a thin pillow underneath your seat can go a long way in making an ordinary chair a lot more comfortable. Draping a soft towel over the back of your chair is also a small thing that can make your chair feel plush.
Supporting your feet on an elevated surface, or stretching your legs long increases circulation and can feel nice. Ideally, your hips and thighs should form 90-degree angles when you sit in your chair, but you can move your feet back and forth for exercise.
And if you’re lucky enough to have a chair that reclines, “that would give you some nice support for your legs as well”.
Laptops are never going to be ergonomically good because the monitor is either going to be too low or too high.
Ideally, the top of your monitor should be just below eye level, so you don’t have to strain your neck to read. If you’re working on a reading-intensive task, prop your laptop up on objects (like a stack of books or shoeboxes) so it’s eye-level. Then, when you need to type, you can lower it to a level that allows your arms to be bent at 90-degree angles.
Most people take breaks to walk around when they’re in the office, but when you’re at home “we have a tendency to just be focused,” so you might forget. It is advisable to set a timer to go off every 30 minutes to take a break for three to five minutes. Get up and walk around, or do some quick stretches at your desk.
Adding regular exercise, even if it’s a low-level activity, is really important to keep your body healthy and avoid back pain.
For every 20 minutes spent looking at a computer screen, you should spend 20 seconds looking at something else 20 feet away. This gives your eye muscles a break and helps reduce eye strain.
Create a dedicated work area with as much natural lighting as possible. Don’t tuck it away in a dark corner, but instead use good lighting to improve performance. Use lamps where needed. Place the work area perpendicular to windows to reduce glare. Keep in mind the monitor should be the brightest thing in the space.
While working from home can be challenging for a variety of reasons for many of us, a comfortable workspace can definitely help you feel and perform your best.