Your work-from-home setup should be as productive and comfortable as possible. Here are our tips on how not to cramp your home and cramp your back at the same time.
Create a dedicated work space
Your home is primarily a place for relaxing, eating and sleeping, under normal circumstances. But now that it’s also your place of work, we recommend creating a designated work space that’s separate from the rest of these areas (i.e. your couch and bed should not double as a desk).
For one, a couch or bed is probably the least comfortable place to work from (don’t let the plush cushions and down comforter fool you). In fact, they are doing a doozy on your posture as they compromise proper alignment. Despite the name, a laptop really should not be used on your lap – it can lead to neck and shoulder pain, and over time, unnatural curvature in the spine.
Second, we believe it’s important for productivity to separate work from home life, even if it’s as narrow as one room or one seat away – social (work) distance. Work – life balance is even more important these days and creating boundaries, both physical and schedule-wise, can help.
Use a desk
Find a table or desk to make your workstation. Ideally, your screen is at the height of your head and is at eye level. A typical dining room table is too low for your monitor. It forces you to look down at the screen, which will lead to neck and upper back pain over time. Ideally, you can raise your screen, either with a dedicated stand (we like this portable one from Roost) or even a few empty Amazon boxes.
If you are at a seated desk, make sure your feet can easily reach the floor and that you are sitting upright. Check-in with yourself every now and then to make sure you’re engaging your shoulder blades and not curving in the chest area.
Ideally, use a standing desk. Again, if you don’t have one, you can build one by using boxes. Use a bar or countertop if you have one so that you’re starting from a higher base. Standing can easily eliminate the tendency to slouch into a desk chair and also puts the body in better alignment. It forces you to slightly engage core and glute muscles, which easily go slack when sitting.
Make sure you’re moving around at least once an hour. Whether it’s going to the kitchen to get a glass of water or doing a few quick stretch*s, changing up your position is key. Staying stagnant is your worst enemy. Even a bathroom break counts!
Use a full-sized keyboard and mouse
If your laptop keyboard is too small, we recommend using a separate keyboard. Your wrists and fingers should be as comfortable and relaxed as possible. Ideally, your keyboard is right at the height of your elbows at about a 90 degree angle. If you move your laptop up to eye level, this means that your keyboard will likely be too high, too (time for a separate keyboard). Additionally, a track pad on a laptop can also cause discomfort. We recommend using a separate mouse.
Get a headset
If you haven’t already gotten used to one, now’s the time. Holding your iPhone up to your ear for hour-long calls is a sure way to get a crick in your neck. Save yourself the trouble and invest in some headphones – wireless, wired – whatever your preference. Or, if you don’t have to worry about bothering a “co-worker” at home, make use of the speaker function. Putting your feet up on the desk and leaning back while giving directions over the phone is completely optional.
Let there be light
Pick a spot for your desk that gets natural light. It will help you stay alert, engaged and aware of the outside world… it’s all too easy to let day slip into night if you don’t have a window to give you cues. Additionally, exposure to the natural cycles of the day will also help set your own circadian rhythms and ultimately lead to a better night’s rest. Without a daily commute, lunchtime walk or coffee break, you may be less in touch with the cycles of the day.
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