The following article is written by Nicola Steinigen, Client Success Coordinator at Gympass Germany.
Recently, I changed my home office setup as I found myself with serious neck pain after normal work days – or rather normal work days in 2020. I switched to a chair that provides better back support and raised my laptop. Adding an external mouse and keyboard were the easiest and most relevant steps for me. Did it help quickly? It did, but not as much as I’d have liked. So I went to a physiotherapist for a few weeks. I also integrated regular breaks into my work day. „Sounds obvious and everyone knows that“, you say? I agree, but to be honest, I totally forgot about moving between one meeting and another. Because staying, looking into a screen, only switching the zoom link feels quite cosy, right?
Interestingly, I never had these problems when I was working in an onsite office: I automatically adjusted my chair and monitor. And of course – walking from one meeting room to another was not a marathon but still – my body was moving regularly instead of sitting still the whole day. Most of us need to work from our devices for eight hours every day, so it’s important to get things right.
Do you also face any physical issues while working from home?
A range of symptoms can indicate that your home office is not as comfortable or suited to your body type as it could be. Do you find yourself with:
- neck pain
- lower back pain
- tired eyes
- numbness in your hands, legs or arms
- tension in your neck, fingers and wrists?
Those seem to be such small pain points, but if you leave these physical signs without attention, you will suffer even more in the future. Accepting this fact and changing your office setup can be the greatest gift you can give to yourself. So how can you easily improve your home office setup by changing small things?
DIY Home Office Ergonomics
Sure, you can arrange to have an ergonomics expert who comes to your living room or kitchen to assess your work space – but you can also be creative and do it on your own. DIY is trendy and cool anyway, Pinterest and Instagram are full of DIY projects so why not transfer this to your home working environment? Here’s how to hack your own work space easily and to keep yourself comfortable and injury-free.
1. Monitor stand
Laptop ergonomics can be tricky as a laptop alone is an ergonomic disaster. It is impossible to get your monitor at eye level and your keyboard in proper position at the same time. Elevate your laptop to a height where your eye line meets just above the middle of your screen. Get thrifty: You can use old books, yoga blocks, a shoe box, etc. I simply put mine on the window sill in front of my desk. For sure it is not the prettiest setup, but your neck will thank you!
2. Sitting position
Sit comfortably with your feet resting on something (the floor? a bag? A cushion?). Set a decent amount of space between your eyes and the monitor. Your keyboard is directly in front of you with some space to the table edge. You can check the right distance between table edge and keyboard by a 90 degree bend in your arms. 90 degrees is key here; it should also be the angle of your lower leg and upper thigh. Make sure your legs and arms are not cramped. Keep your shoulders relaxed: Tense shoulder and back muscles can cause all sorts of problems.
External mouse and keyboard – your wrists and hands will be so happy. I promise. I have a Microsoft ergonomic bluetooth keyboard and a Hama bluetooth mouse (which don’t match at all, but oh well). However ergonomic and modern your hardware may be, you still need to be pretty mindful of your body to benefit from your properly set up work space. Here are some things you can pay attention to, to make sure that you’re being kind to your body:
- Do you drink enough water?
- Go green, get plants: First – it looks beautiful. Second – several studies found out that employees feel happier and less stressed. As well as their calming effect, plants filter air to remove bacteria and aid in improving our general health.
- Are you moving between one meeting and another? Have you spoken about active meetings within your team? Stand up when having a phone call and take a walk during your lunch break.
Now it’s over to you. How have you improved your home office ergonomics?
Feel free to share your own DIY tips and life hacks. Stay healthy and productive at home!