In theory, a hybrid working week is the best of both worlds for both the employee and the employer. It combines the best of pre-Covid collaborative office-based working with the flexibility of working from home. Allowing employees to be fully engaged with the company and their colleagues all whilst offering the opportunity for solo focus that comes with home working. It is thought that many companies will permanently adopt a ‘hybrid’ way of working.
With this being a long term model of working, many people have realised that their makeshift home office will not suffice without causing havoc on their bodies. Making sure that the physical and ergonomic set up of your home office is correct is imperative for avoiding any musculoskeletal problems.
A bad home office setup has the potential to cause you repetitive strain injury, lower back pain, increase your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome and could even be the cause of your headaches and migraines. It is worth taking the time to understand what a good home office set up is and work out the best way to adapt your setup to make a healthier home working space for you to work from.
Back to basics:
We always start at the basics. Even though they may seem obvious, time and time again it has been proven never to assume the basics are widely known. So, let’s go over them briefly:
- Choose the right chair: You should invest in a chair that offers adequate support. Try and get a chair that is fully adjustable – meaning you can alter the height, back position, and tilt to best suit you. This will be much more comfortable and will support your body when you’re sat for long periods of time.
- Support your back: You should adjust your chair so that your lower back is supported, this will reduce strain on your back. Your knees should be slightly lower than your hips.
- Arm position: Your elbows should be positioned by the side of your body so your arm forms a right-angled L-shape at the elbow joint.
- Screen level: Your screen should be directly in front of you with your monitor placed at about an arms length away, with the top of the screen roughly at eye level. You may need a screen monitor to achieve this.
- Keyboard and mouse position: Your keyboard should be placed in front of you with a 4-6 inch gap at the front of the desk to rest your wrists. You might consider a wrist rest. You should aim to position your mouse as close to you as possible. A mouse mat with a wrist pad can help.
Now for some suggestions a little more out the box:
It’s important to be fully facing whatever you’re doing. Trying to work while twisted, even a little, is going to cause problems. This often happens when someone needs to type at a screen, but also use a book, write, or use two monitors. A great solution is to set up your desk in an L shape (two desks perpendicular works). This allows you to swivel your chair to face whatever you’re doing at that moment.
Plain monitors are cheaper than you’d think. Instead of hunching over a laptop, or piling books up to put a screen on, think about investing in an extra monitor, maybe with a bigger screen and a stand. If you need documents open, think about a second monitor, it will cut down on mouse usage of having to keep swapping between windows. It can also be used vertically to get whole pages on which means less scrolling. Equally, extra keyboards and mice are really quite cheap and ergonomically so much better. Lots of different mice for arm/shoulder complaints are available. You can have a full setup in place and simply plug in your laptop when you arrive.
If your desk isn’t height adjustable, chances are your chair is adjusted to match the desk, not you. This is ok, as long as your feet are still flat on the ground with knees at about 90 degrees. If not, you may find a footrest makes a great difference, taking pressure off the back of the thighs and preventing over extension of the lower back. If you’re too tall, leg extensions for the desk are a simple remedy.
If you’re looking at buying a new desk. I recommend adjustable ones. Costco stocks an electric one for under £200. This can allow you to spend part of the day working, standing.
Creating an environment that is visually pleasing will do wonders for your mental wellbeing. This is equally as important as physical setup and will improve mood, lower levels of tension, and increase productivity. Try to utilise lots of natural light if you can. Position your desk where it feels airy and open. Choose light colours to surround your workspace. Add a couple of green leafy plants. Whatever little changes that make you feel happy!
Try to incorporate regular movement to your working day. If you can, get up every hour for 30 seconds and have a quick stretch. When working statically for long periods of time, the muscles fatigue.
This may all seem like a lot to consider for a workstation but these are simple changes that can easily be implemented. Optimising your work space can make a huge difference in both your comfort and productivity.
If you are experiencing any musculoskeletal problems, book an appointment online with our osteopath, Andrew Doody.
Or for more information on osteopathy, see here.