Patient Education

Reduce Pain and Increase Productivity When Working from Home with Ergonomics

man sitting at desk work from home ergonomics

Easy ergonomic tips designed to make your WFH office a healthier and happier environment

As many of us continue to work remotely, either full or part-time post-pandemic, it’s important to ask yourself – is my home office set up to be ergonomically efficient?

What exactly is an ergonomic work environment?

Merriam-Webster defines ergonomics as: an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely. In simpler terms, an ergonomically designed work space is both better for productivity and your well-being. A home office that is not ergonomically optimized can cause poor posture which can lead to back pain and spinal issues.

Whether you already have a home office, or are creating a designated workstation, here are some simple steps to make your WFH experience more efficient, effective and ergonomic.

man work from home ergonomic

How to create an ergonomic WFH HQ

  • Start with your desk. Ergonomists recommend always using a desk surface or on a flat table when establishing a home work area.
  • Resist the comfy couch, or restful bed as your work station. Working from these relaxed locations can result in developing musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) causing neck and back problems.
  • For an even healthier work surface option, consider getting a standing desk. Choose one that is adjustable in height and offers an attached sitting desk to use when needed.

ergonomic office chair

Pull up a chair – Buying, or making a DIY ergonomic option

Sitting at our desks for eight hours a day, if not done correctly, can lead to back problems and pain.

  • Ergonomists advise to invest in a proper office chair for your WFH desk. Select a style that offers adjustable seat height, back height, tilt and lumbar support.
  • If a new chair isn’t an option, create a do-it-yourself version. Find a seat in your home that has solid back support and encourages good posture.
  • If needed, add firm cushions or a tightly rolled towel to customize your lumbar support and provide a correct sitting position.
  • Make sure your feet are comfortably touching the ground (if feet are not flat on the floor, elevate them with some books, or a box.) These additions will also help alleviate any strain on your back or neck.

woman work from home ergonomic desk

Treat your home like an office – Setting Up Your WFH ergonomic workstation

Now that you have the appropriate desk and chair, it’s important to ergonomically align them.

  • While seated, the height of the chair should allow your hips, knees and ankles to all be at a 90° angle.
  • Set up the desktop monitor properly to avoid eye, neck and back strain. Adjust the screen to the middle of your eye line and about one arm’s length away (about 18 inches) from your seating position. Shoulders should be relaxed and you should be sitting comfortably.
  • If using a laptop, adjust the viewing height to the middle of your eye line by elevating the computer. If it’s not high enough, purchase a stand, or position it on a box or stack of books. This will also help to correct your posture and avoid hunching.
  • Consider using a wireless keyboard and mouse spaced apart from your laptop to distance yourself an arm’s length away from the screen.
  • To prevent contact stress, add padding or wrap hard edges of the desk to soften areas where elbows, wrists, or forearms are resting. When typing, avoid bending wrists upward as this increases pressure on the carpal tunnel.

standing desk ergonomic stretch

Take a break and boost your creativity

Incorporating ergonomics into your WFH lifestyle not only benefits your overall health, but can also enhance productivity, creative thinking and idea generation. It’s also very important to get up from the desk and give yourself a break every 30 to 60 minutes – with both active and passive breaks.

– For active breaks – Move it! Grab a glass of water, take a little walk, or do a 5-minute stretching routine. Whatever exercise motivates you. Just keep it moving.

– For passive breaks – Let it rest. From your desk, do some yoga, a breathing exercise, or more stretching. Also make time to give your eyes a rest by practicing the 20-20-20 Rule: For every twenty minutes focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to prevent eye strain.

Alternate your workstations

  • Change up your posture by leaving your desk work behind when switching tasks. Try standing at the kitchen counter when jotting down notes and walking around your home while taking phone calls. Working from different locations will add variety to your daily desktop routine – and it will get you up and moving.

Let these easy ergonomics tips add some TLC while you WFH. The Pure HealthyBack team of physical therapy experts want you to live a pain-free and more productive life, or offer solutions for managing your back problems. Schedule an appointment by calling 888-396-2642  or visiting our appointment request page today!


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