MyMichigan Home Care
Many of us are still working from home as opposed to in an office setting. Perhaps you’ve even transitioned to a permanent work from home schedule. If this is the case, it’s important to make sure that you’ve got a dedicated work space at home that is ergonomical to help prevent any long-term issues.
Q. Why is it important to set up a proper work station from your home?
A. Setting up your work station ergonomically can help with efficiency and safety. It’s important to protect your body when you’re working, especially for long hours. One of the really important things is to separate your eyes and your hands. For example, if you are working on a laptop, you can use an external keyboard and mouse and elevate your laptop, so you can relax your head and neck while viewing the monitor.
Q. How is working from home different than being in an office?
A. Home is our comfortable place. It’s where we come at the end of the day to relax, so picking a dedicated space for your office area is important. If you don’t have that option, try not to make your couch or your bed your workspace. It may be comfortable, but you might find yourself in awkward positions that can lead to long-standing issues. Try to find a surface to work on that is similar to your set up at the office, that will allow you to minimize distractions and stay focused.
Q. Are there some areas of the house to work from that may be better than others?
A. Yes. If you have an office, a spare room or even a basement, those are great spaces to be able to spread out and have a quiet, distraction-free space to work.
Q. What are the dangers of using a couch or bed to work from?
A. First of all, it can be hard to stay focused. You can also end up in awkward postures, especially if you’re working from a laptop that is sitting on your lap. This can cause a lot of strain on your head, neck and arms. Reclining in a chair might cause you to have to crane your neck more. If you have a work surface along with an office chair that is adjustable, that is ideal. You might even consider asking your employer if you can bring your office chair or other work set up items home, if possible.
Q. What are some other tips to share for those who are working from home?
A. Eye strain is another important thing to mention. There’s something called the 20/20/20 rule – for every 20 minutes you spend looking at your computer, you should spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away to help reduce eye strain. Also, consider standing up and walking around every 30 to 60 minutes when you can to give yourself a break.
Amy Williams, O.T.R.L., is an occupational therapist at MyMichigan Health.