With more people working from home today, we’ve created a complete guide for you to setup your ergonomic home office.
Following this guide will help you to set up a high quality workplace that allows you to be more productive and healthy when working from home.
Home Office Essentials
Ergonomic Home Office Setup
Ergonomics (Human factors) is the science of understanding the interaction of human to the elements in the workplace. Ergonomic setup focus on improving how people work in their environment is based on the five principles: safety, comfort, ease of use, performance, and aesthetics.
Sitting for a long period, or working on a workstation that is too high, or low is bad for your health.
According to webmd, prolong sitting can have long term negative health effect; put huge stress to your neck, back, spine and even shorten your life!
While a desk that is too high or low can cause hand, or wrist pain.
3 Key Focus Areas for Setting Up an Ergonomic Home Office:
- Neck Support
- Back and Spine Support
- Hand and Wrist Support
Good ergonomic posture is essential when working from home.
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1. Head and Neck Support
Sitting for a prolong period often lead to neck and shoulder pain.
Often this is due to incorrect posture of the head which lead to strain on the neck and shoulders.
“For every inch of Forward Head Posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds.”
– Kapandji, Physiology of Joints.
Position of your head should be vertical to your neck, where it creates the least amount of strain.
But most of the time, remote workers tend to have a makeshift home office. Where they will be working with a laptop on the coffee table, with the screen being either too low or too high.
Incorrect height of the screen will lead the user to have their head in the forward posture, which cause a lot of strain on their neck muscle.
Although, doing having forward head posture once a while is probably harmless.
Faulty neck posture by forward-flex of your head for a prolong period of time will cause irreversible damage and cause Upper Crossed Syndrome (UCS). UCS is the deform of muscles that put strain on the surrounding joints, bones, muscles and tendons.
- Jaw pain
- Face and neck pain
- Upper back and shoulders pain
- Numbness and tingling in the upper arms
- Migraine headaches
- Tightness and pain in the chest
- Loss of body balance
Proper support of the head and neck can reduce the pressure taken on the muscle at the back of your neck.
Consider placing your laptop on a laptop stand, or use an external ergonomic keyboard or mouse.
If you find your head leaning forward because of the height of your monitor, use books, or stool to lift it up to a comfortable eye level where it enables your head to be vertical to your neck.
Your eyes should be aligned to the top of the screen.
Essential Home Office Supplies:
- Ergonomic Chair with Headrest (Editor’s Top Picks)
- Height adjustable Ergonomic Desk
- Laptop Stand
2. Back and Spine Support for Sitting
The proper sitting posture at computer is sitting with your back straight and shoulders pulled back. Allow your body weight to be distributed evenly on both hips. Knees kept at 90 degree angle with height of your knee aligned to your hips. Feet flat or rest on the floor, or a footrest.
Getting the right chair will depends on a person’s height, types of chair, and activity the person is performing.
A good chair will allow you to stay in proper sitting posture with good back and spine support for sitting.
Chair with the best sitting position should be able to perform the following:
- Headrest for head and neck support to reduce strain on the upper spine.
- Back rest, or high backrest to support the upper and lower back.
- Lumbar support to relieve stress on the lower back.
The ability to adjust to fit body shape and sizes of each person is essential to allow maximum comfortable and minimum stress on the body.
Essential Home Office Supplies:
- Affordable Ergonomic Chair Under $200 (Editor’s Top Picks)
- Back/Lumbar Support Cushion
- Ergonomic Desk
- Height Adjustable Footrest
3. Hand and wrist position
Best wrist position when typing or working on a desk is when it is in a neutral position with the forearms parallel to the floor, or slightly lower. The elbow will be at 90 to 150 degrees angle. This allow the wrist to remain straight while typing, or using the mouse.
Repetitive task that requires bending, or twisting motion with your hand for an extended period, or incorrect positioning of your hand and wrist can cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which is median nerve compression. Common symptoms are:
- Numbness or tingling feeling of the fingers.
- Pain and numbness in the hand and arm.
- Dropping of things.
With any input device you are using, it is good practice to ensure your hands are keep in neutral position.
Best practice for proper wrist position:
- Keeping at neutral when using mouse: When scrolling or moving your mouse, keep your wrist in neutral position, do not twist too much to the left or right. Use an ergonomic mouse to reduce strain on the wrist, or mouse pad with a gel wrist rest to help keeping your wrist parallel to the floor and in neutral position.
- Keeping at neutral when using keyboard: When you are typing, your hands should not bend inwards towards your thumb or outwards towards your pinky. This will cause strain on the wrist.
- Resting when typing: Your hands should not rest when typing. Your hands and wrist should float above the keyboard, allowing your fingers to find the right keys by moving the whole arm.
- Resting when not typing: Keyboard palm rest should not be too high. a wrist rest of the proper height (height level with space bar) can help to guide your wrist to be kept straight.
“Not all ergonomic products suits you.”
Some wrist rest can help to reduce fatigue and prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. While, an unsuitable wrist rest that is too high may increase the angle of the user’s wrist bend.
Getting an ergonomic keyboard or mouse might be a better option if you are unsure how to buy the right wrist rest for you.
Good Ergonomic Wrist Rest:
- Allows your hands to move freely when typing.
- Resting pad should only contact the palm of your hands and not your wrist.
- Reduce the bending of your wrist and help your wrist to maintain a neutral position.
- Provide wrist support that is soft and rounded to minimize pressure on the wrist.
- Size of the wrist rest should fit the area where your hand movement is performed.
If you are facing pain on your wrist or shoulder, you may want to make some changes to your home office. Consider changing a mouse that fit the size of your hands, or an ergonomic keyboard that will allow your hands to move freely in a wrist neutral position.
Essential Home Office Supplies:
- Ergonomic Mouse that fit your hand size
- Ergonomic Keyboard
- Wrist Resting Pad
- Height Adjustable Ergonomic Chair (Editor’s Top Picks)
- Ergonomic Desk
Ergonomic home office Checklist
Creating your ergonomic home office is quite a lot of work, but it will definitely worth your time and effort.
Here, we’ve created an ergonomic self-assessment checklist to help you in setting up your home office and establish good working habits that will keep you productive and healthy.
If you find yourself have more “No” than “Yes”, you may consider to make the necessary changes to prevent lasting health injuries that is common amount remote workers.
HOME OFFICE SETUP CHECKLIST
|Neck rest available and adjustable?|
|Backrest of your chair adjustable?|
|Backrest of the chair supports the S-curve of your back?|
|Armrest of the chair adjustable to be set below your elbow?|
|Seat of the chair sufficiently padded?|
|Height of your chair adjustable to allow your knees to bend at 90 degree angle and your feet placed flat on the floor.|
|Optional: Chair provides rocking function to allow back relieve?|
|Optional: Leg rest available for taking microbreaks?|
|Height of your desk adjustable to allow your arms to bend at a 90 degree angle to reach your keyboard and mouse?|
|Size of your desk is big enough for you to perform your task without restriction of movement?|
|Room under your desk is sufficient to allow your legs to rest comfortably flat on the floor?|
|Optional: Does your desk allows you to adjust the height to alternate between sitting and standing during your workday?|
|Do you have a full size keyboard that is not too small and allow you to comfortably reach each keys without overstretching your fingers?|
|Do you required ergonomic features for your keyboard so you won’t need to move your hands over a long distance to reach each of the keys?|
|Height of your keyboard is not tooo high or low which allows your arms to bend at approximate 90 degree angle to reach each keys?|
|Angle of the placement of your keyboard allows your wrist to be parallel when typing?|
|Does the size of your mouse allows it to fit comfortably in your hands without straining your fingers?|
|The button on your mouse allows you to naturally click the intended button when you perform your work?|
|When holding the mouse, is the angle of your wrist parallel to the floor?|
|Height of your mouse allows you to bend your arms at approximate 90 degree angle when performing your task?|
|Do the design of your mouse allows you to comfortably use all day long without straining your hands or wrists?|
|Is the top of your monitor set at your eye level?|
|Have you placed your monitor at an arm’s length?|
|Do you tilt the monitor screen slightly upwards to minimize the glare?|
|Is your monitor perpendicular to the window where glare from the sunlight will not irritate your eyes?|
|Is your neck straight and not leaning your head forward when you are working at your desk?|
|Are your shoulders relaxed when you are sitting at your desk?|
|Is your elbow relaxed at approximately 90 degrees when you are working on your desk?|
|Is your wrist and hands parallel to the floor when you are typing or using your mouse?|
|Are you sitting with your back straight?|
|Are your knees at 90 degrees when you are sitting down?|
|Are you sitting with your feet flat on the floor or a footrest?|
|Ergonomic Habits at Work|
|Do you vary your working position between sitting and standing during your workday?|
|Do you perform simple stretches at least 3 times a day during your workday?|
|Do you take water breaks to rehydrate yourself during your workday?|
|Do you take microbreaks, and stand, or walk around your workplace for at least 1 minute, every 1 hour during your workday?|
|Do you look at something else 20 feet away for 20 seconds other than your computer every 20 minutes?|