Tips on how to set up your home office for comfort and success.
As the coronavirus pandemic swept through the nation, working from home became the new normal. Currently, 4.7 million people in the country are working remotely, an increase from 3.9 million in 2015.
Ergonomics Has Your Back
With many employees expected to continue working at home after the COVID-19 crisis extra bedrooms and spare rooms have been converted into home offices. One drawback from working at home is back pain, which is usually the result of years of faulty posture. Up to 80% of Americans are likely to experience back pain during their lifetimes.
“Back pain is one of the most common work-related injuries and is often caused by ordinary work activities such as sitting in an office chair or heavy lifting,” says Dr. Andrew Casden, Chief of Orthopedic Surgery and Spine Surgery at White Plains Hospital. “If you’re going to spend hours at your desk each day, it’s worth investing in an ergonomic office chair with a cushion that supports the lumbar region in your lower back. It will give your back a slight arch and prevent you from leaning forward or slouching, promoting good posture while keeping your spinal column aligned.”
Your keyboard should be at a height that allows your elbows to be bent about 90 degrees and close to your sides. Your monitor should be adjusted so that the top of the screen is at—or slightly below—eye level, and your mouse should be placed close to the keyboard.
Get the Right Desk
From an ergonomic point of view, the most important aspect of your desk is its height. Depending on your own height, the standard dimensions for a personal computer desk are 60 inches wide, 30 inches deep, and between 25 and 30 inches in height.
“Adjustable height desks are at the forefront of ergonomic desk design, allowing the user to set their workstation height to their comfort level and alternate between sitting and standing,” says Dr. Casden. “Sitting all day has been scientifically shown to increase the risk of high blood pressure and back discomfort. Conversely, standing all day can be exhausting and potentially just as damaging, so the ability to alternate between the two postures might be right for you.”
Give Me A Break
No matter how ergonomic your workstation is set up, you should avoid staying in one position for too long. It’s simply not good for your back or the rest of your body. Remember to take breaks to stretch or walk around. If possible, take a break about every 20-25 minutes. Short periods of movement can improve your circulation, comfort, and performance.
Designing a workspace that promotes good posture and easier heights and reaches may take some experimenting, but once you do, you’ll be more comfortable and less like to mind putting in some overtime.
Dr. Andrew Casden is Chief of Orthopedic Surgery and Spine Surgery at White Plains Hospital and sees patients at his office in Harrison. To make an appointment, please call 914-946-1010.