With so many people unexpectedly working from home in the last couple of weeks, if you’re going to spend a lot more time than normal working from home, it’s worth considering how you can create a healthy working space for yourself.
While reclining on the sofa might seem like a good way to work in the short term, longer term it can have a serious impact on your health.
A good sitting posture is with your hands, wrists and forearms straight and parallel to the floor. Your head should be level and facing forwards without turning to the left or right, inline with your torso.
Your seat may be adjusted to create a more comfortable position for you, including declining or raised thighs, or reclined sitting position so long as the good sitting posture is followed.
Standing is also highly recommended for maintaining overall health. Even while standing, the arms, wrists and forearms should remain in a good natural postural position.
Investing in a good seat is one option – the more it can be adjusted the more likely it will suit your sitting position and posture.
Seating can be expensive though, so you might like to request financial assistance from your employer, or find a cheaper seat that you can try in advance that works well for you.
Or, some people swear by using inflatable gym balls for sitting on – these can be relatively inexpensive and keep you active while working – but remember to maintain a good posture and have a pump to hand!
Low light can strain your eyes, so consider investing in some good lighting, or locating your working space in a spot with lots of natural light.
Temperature and humidity can leave you feeling drained if not controlled, so consider using a dehumidifier and keep the temperature at a comfortable level.
You may also benefit from an air purifier and / or ensuring you get plenty of fresh air simply by opening the windows occasionally if you live in an older building and don’t have sufficient vents.
We recommend a monitor riser or laptop stand, so you don’t have to stoop to look at your screen, risking back and neck pain.
Some people will also benefit from a footstool, if it makes you feel more comfortable.
You may also consider an ergonomic mouse and keyboard to improve your comfort while typing and using a computer.
If you spend a lot of time talking on the phone, a headset is recommended to reduce strain on the arms and neck.
If you wear glasses, your eyes may also benefit from having a protective layer on the glass which reduces the amount of screen light entering your eyes, which can help with eye strain.
Any task repeated over and over can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Be aware of any tasks completed over and over again and try to introduce some variety into your work so that you do not cause yourself health issues.
As well as being good for your mental health, you will feel better physically if you take time to rest properly throughout the day.
Use your daily exercise, sit in the garden if you have one or simply look away from a screen for a while.
It is recommended to look away from the screen every 20 minutes and to take a break of 5-10 minutes once per hour if possible. Your break should ideally involve a short break away from your workspace and some physical exercise.
Asking for help
As an employee, your employer has a duty of care towards you, and most likely has resources for creating a healthy working environment. Talk to them to see whether they can provide any help or guidance for staying safe at work.
Stay safe, and we wish you a happy, healthy and productive time working from home!