Since lockdown restrictions were enforced in March, many of us have been working from home.
While some people were prepared for life working at home – they had, for example, a desk and suitable chair – others have had to settle in other nooks and crannies, taking up residence on sofas and even beds. After three months, there are concerns that unfit work environments are now taking a toll on the nation’s necks, backs and wrists.
Even if you don’t have the space or finances to set up a specific area of your home as a dedicated workspace, there are a number of tips you can follow to ensure you reduce the risk of developing unwelcome aches and pains.
The guide below includes advice on setting up your work area, as well as staying active and keeping hydrated.
- If you can then use a desk or table, try and keep the work area clutter free and make sure all the equipment you need such as phones or documents are within easy reach.
- If possible, set the workstation up away from areas in your home that you use to relax. This will help set boundaries for your work life balance.
Setting up a desktop computer or using a laptop
- If you use a desktop or laptop, raise it to eye level height using a riser, a pile of books or anything you have available. Avoid bending forward with your neck and upper back, use a pillow to support your back and increase the font size so you can see the text more clearly.
- If you are going to be using a laptop for prolonged periods, you will need to raise the screen and use a separate keyboard and mouse. This helps keep your arms relaxed. Try using a rolled-up towel or small cushion placed in the small of the back, this will help support your back whilst sitting in all types of chairs.
- If you have an adjustable chair, familiarise yourself with its controls to ensure it is providing you with the most support.
- The height of your home table or desk will affect your sitting comfort. Try and have your forearms level with the table and elbows at 90 degrees. Raise yourself up with cushions if necessary and place your feet on a box for support if you cannot place them flat on the floor.
Using a sofa or bed
- If the sofa is your only option, use cushions to support yourself. Use a cushion, books or lap tray to raise your laptop up and protect you from the heat it generates. Stand and stretch regularly to reduce tension and prevent aches from building up.
Using your phone
- Avoid cradling the phone in your neck and, where possible, use a headset, hands-free or speakerphone.
Take breaks and move
Please make sure you are regularly getting up from your position to move. Move as regularly as possible. This means getting up from your chair every 45 to 60 minutes. Set an alarm on your phone to distract you. Get up and change positions.
Aim to drink 2 litres of water per day. We recommend regular sips of water throughout the day even when you are not thirsty.
Avoid screen time 1-2 hours before going to bed to ensure a restful sleep.
You should continue to undertake regular exercise especially as you are no longer commuting to work. Take time out to cycle, run, walk or try exercising at home doing things like yoga and Pilates.