You must tailor your workstation to you rather than force yourself into awkward postures on the sofa or kitchen table or you will develop pain in the neck, shoulders and back. Stress can also cause tight muscles in the shoulder and neck so, where possible, create a separate work area where you can concentrate and avoid the noise and interruptions of home life.
Here’s a checklist to help you avoid some of the pitfalls of working from home and set up your workstation correctly:
- If using the kitchen table or a makeshift desk, make sure your shoulders are relaxed and that your arms are bent at a 90-degree angle at the elbow. If you need to change your position to achieve this try sitting on a cushion and if needed placing your feet on a box so your knees and hips are kept at a 90-degree angle.
- Avoid neck pain by raising your screen so that your eyebrows meet the top of the screen, long periods of time looking down at your screen will cause discomfort.
- If using a laptop use a separate keyboard and mouse and raise the laptop. Several laptop stands exist but we have yet to see one that is much better than a few books!
- Avoid slouching or sitting to close to your computer. Make sure your screen is kept at arm’s length, so your fingers are just able to touch the screen.
- Take regular breaks or change your position every 20-30 minutes, this might simply mean standing up to chat on the phone or making a cup of tea. If you need some extra help with this try setting up a postural reminder on your phone or computer. There are lots of apps available.
- Avoid the dreaded repetitive strain injuries that are easily picked up from bad working posture and repetitive movements. Avoid working from your phone or tablet and always use a headset or headphones when making calls. At regular intervals switch your mouse from one side to the other. Use voice recognition technology where possible too. Speechnote is really useful and it’s free!
- Lastly and most importantly…MOVE! Regular exercise and changing your working position are key, if you have the resources, invest in a sit to stand desk as this will help you to alternate your working position.
Right, now you have your desk situation sorted it’s time to get moving!