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  • Kari Lynn Larsen

ergonomic tips for home office workspaces

Dragonfly works with our clients to ensure their virtual audiences are engaged and comfortable while attending their conferences and meetings remotely. Our Dragonfly staff benefit from the advice of a local rehabilitation and chiropractic professional, Dr. Andrew Sulatycki. “Dr. Andrew” provides workshops on work station and remote working ergonomics. We want to share some of his great advice with our Dragonfly friends.

Ergonomic Tips for Home Office Workspaces

By Dr. Andrew Sulatycki

If you're among the many people who are transitioning to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a few important tips to consider when setting up a temporary home workstation. These strategies will help you prevent aches and pains while working, and make you more productive as well. To add clarity to the topic, Ergonomic consultant Dr. Andrew Sulatycki, the clinic director of Total Rehabilitation and Chiropractic Centre, recently shared a number of proactive measures to help employees who work from home stay healthy.

Things to Consider When Working in Your Home Office

It is essential when working from home to be aware of how your sense of well-being is affected by your workspace and the need to include movement and mini-breaks in your workday. You should avoid working in positions that increase your risk of stress injuries and cause prolonged muscle strain.

Risks of Poor Ergonomics in a Home Office

It's important to protect yourself from the risks of poor ergonomics when you're working from home. After all, it's easy to curl up on the bed with a laptop or kick back in a recliner while working. However, working for extended periods in those positions can leave you with aches and pains.

Results of poor ergonomics may include stiffness, headaches, and lower back pain. Incorrect ergonomics may also cause nerve compression and leave you with tingling extremities or muscle tension. Neck and shoulder pain, tired eyes, and contact stress injuries may also occur.

Optimize Seating

For optimal ergonomics, seating should be designed so you can put your feet flat on the floor and sit back into the chair so that your back is being supported by the seat back. The edge of the seat should not be pressing up against the back of your knees. Accessories can be used with your existing seating to make your temporary workstation more comfortable. These include putting either a stack of books or a footrest on the floor in front of the chair to support your legs if they are dangling, and adding lumbar support to a chair by using a strap-on backrest that attaches to your dining chair or by placing a pillow or rolled up towel behind your lower back.

Optimize Wrist and Hand Position

Contact stress and frequent hand movements, including both side-to-side and up-and-down movements, can cause injury to the wrist or carpal tunnel as noted by Dr. Sulatycki. It is essential to keep the wrist flat in a neutral position. For a temporary solution to hand and wrist discomfort, try rolling up a small towel to support the palm of your hand. For a long-term solution, consider a cushioned keyboard hand support pad and a mouse pad with padded wrist support to keep your wrist in a neutral position.

Monitor Placement

Correct monitor placement may help you avoid neck and shoulder discomfort. Position your computer monitor about an arm's length away and high enough that you don't have to lean forward or look up to see clearly. You should be looking at the top third of the monitor when you are looking straight ahead. Try a monitor riser or laptop stand to bring your monitor to the proper height, or for a temporary solution, sliding a sturdy box under the monitor lets you see how much you need to elevate your screen to be comfortable.

Desktop Layout

A properly arranged desktop makes it easy for you to remain in a neutral, ergonomic position. Use a stand or copyholder to prop up documents you're using, and place the stand close to the screen. That way, you don't have to lean forward or turn your head frequently to see printed information because everything is within close range for viewing.

Incorporate Movement

Dr. Sulatycki states that human beings are designed to move, and sitting for too long can be detrimental to your health. He recommends trying to follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes get up, move stretch and take a 20 second micro-break. When you do try to look at least 20 feet away to give your eyes a break as well. By simply moving more throughout the day you can prevent the majority of aches and pains you get from working on a computer.

The move to working from home has its pros and cons. Dragonfly hopes everyone is able to take Dr. Sulatycki’s advice and work to stay healthy as we get closer to the end of a tumultuous year.

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