Working from home is becoming more and more common, as technology makes it easier for people to stay connected no matter where they are. While this can be a great way to avoid the commute and have more flexibility in your schedule, it is important to also take care of one's physical and mental health when working remotely. In this blog post, we will discuss tips for improving workplace ergonomics and managing mental health when working from a home office.
The importance of a healthy work environment
It is crucial to have comfort and safety at work, both physically and mentally. Workplace ergonomics refers to the design of a workplace environment to maximize comfort and productivity while minimizing workplace injury or illness. This is especially important when working from home, since there may not be anyone around to remind us to take care of ourselves. We are, in these circumstances, responsible for our own health and comfort.
The first tip is to ensure that our workplace is ergonomically sound. Top considerations include investing in an adjustable chair and desk, to easily adjust the height for comfort. A good monitor or laptop setup is also very important. It helps to have a separate keyboard if possible, as this can help reduce wrist strain and discomfort. Finally, adequate lighting can be crucial for both productivity, as well as physical and mental health.
A comfortable chair and desk pair
An ergonomic workstation can make all the difference. It helps to have a chair with adjustable height and armrests, as well as one that provides good lumbar support. When using a laptop, an external monitor can help reduce eye strain and improve posture.
A good office chair should also support the lower back and provide adequate lumbar support. It is important to adjust the chair so that it will allow for a comfortable position and will not cause any discomfort or strain while sitting.
Other ergonomic furniture
Other ergonomic furniture pieces such as wrist rests and footrests can also help reduce pain from sitting in one position for too long. An adjustable laptop table or standing desk can be helpful, too.
Good monitor placement
Good monitor placement is essential for workplace comfort. The screen should be at eye level, so that one's neck does not need to be in an unnatural position. Also, the correct distance between one's eyes and the screen is about arm’s length away.
It is important to have the right keyboard placement for workplace ergonomics. The keyboard should be placed close enough so that it allows for placing arms and wrists in a comfortable position, but not too close, as that may also cause strain.
Maintaining a good posture can be surprisingly relevant for workplace ergonomics. Sitting up straight and trying to keep the back in a neutral position is the way to go – no slouching or hunching over the desk!
Taking frequent breaks
Another important tip is to take regular breaks throughout the day. This will help reduce fatigue and muscle discomfort that can come from sitting in one place for too long. Taking a quick walk or stretching are both great ways to move around during the workday.
The 20/20/20 rule
Following the 20/20/20 rule can be the answer to reducing eye strain when working on a computer. This means taking a break every 20 minutes and looking at something that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Customizing the home workstation
It is important to customize our home workstation to suit our individual needs. Investing in an ergonomic workplace setup that works best for someone's specific needs and body is worth it. This can range from chair height and armrests to monitor placement and external keyboards.
Managing angles when working with two screens
When using two screens, it is important to manage the angle of the monitors and make sure they are at an appropriate level. The top edge of each monitor should be positioned at eye level, and the bottom edges should be angled slightly downward so that the neck will not be strained in an unnatural position.
Taking advantage of natural light
It is important to take advantage of natural light when working from home. Having enough light in the workplace can help reduce eye strain and make it easier to stay focused.
Access to key objects
Having key objects close at hand is important. This includes things like a phone, mouse, pen and paper, etc., so that they are within easy reach when they are needed.
Working from the couch or bed
When working remotely, it can be tempting to work from the couch or bed. However, doing so for too long can lead to back and neck pain, as well as poor posture. It is important to set up a dedicated workspace with ergonomic furniture that will support maintaining proper posture and reduce discomfort.
Eating regular meals
It is important to remember to take regular breaks for meals. Eating regularly will help in maintaining energy levels and prevent fatigue from long work days.
Mental health considerations
In addition to workplace ergonomics, it is also important to take steps towards managing one's mental health while working remotely. This can include taking regular breaks throughout the day, connecting with colleagues on a regular basis, and engaging in activities that are enjoyable outside of work.
Connecting with friends and family, taking some time for oneself, and doing fun activities are all essential for managing stress and staying positive. Additionally, setting boundaries between work and leisure is crucial for avoiding burnout. Having a designated workspace may help foster focus and productivity when working from home.
It is important to manage workplace stress levels. One step in the right direction is reserving time to relax and unwind. Listening to music, meditation or yoga are great – whatever helps us de-stress and maintain a good balance between work and personal life.
Finding time for oneself
Working from home can lead to feelings of loneliness or isolation. It is important to take time for oneself and make sure to schedule activities that will maintain strong connections with friends and family, such as virtual coffee dates or video calls.
Leaving the house sometimes
It is important to leave the house occasionally, if possible. Getting out of the house for some fresh air and a change of scenery can help clear one's mind and reduce stress.
Creating a routine
Creating a routine and setting work hours can help make remote work more manageable. This can include scheduling regular breaks throughout the day and making time for meals and personal activities. Working remotely does not have to mean sacrificing one's physical or mental health; with the right workplace practices, it is more that possible to stay healthy, productive, and comfortable.
Having a designated workplace and setting boundaries between work and leisure is essential when working remotely. Setting specific work hours can help ensure that enough breaks occur throughout the day.
Some time should be set aside specifically for engaging in activities outside of work. It is all too easy to start idly checking work email or finishing "just one task", and while such activities may seem harmless, in the long run they can lead to rising stress levels and burnout.
How to avoid major risk factors to physical and mental health while working remotely
By following workplace ergonomics when working from home, you can ensure that your work environment is comfortable and conducive to productivity. Investing in ergonomic furniture pieces and taking regular breaks for meals and rest will help you stay healthy and productive.
Additionally, it is important to take steps towards managing your mental health and schedule times for socializing with friends and family. With the right workplace ergonomics and practices, working from home can be a comfortable, enjoyable experience.