Stay Safe and Healthy While Working From Home

As we all adjust to working from home, it’s good to remember that a few small changes to your workstation setup can make a significant difference to your comfort and productivity throughout the day.

For those of us who don’t work from home frequently, our workstation setup may not be optimal. From kitchen tables to small corner desks, from dining room chairs to couches, many of us might be stuck making do wherever we can.

As time goes on, however, these less than optimal workstations can lead to aches and pains, eye strain, headaches, sore necks and wrists, and other discomforts. The longer these pains go on, the more severe they can become, and the more difficult it is for your body to heal.

WorkSafe BC’s Workstation Guidelines

WorkSafe BC provides many resources for companies and their employees to use to ensure a safe and healthy working environment. From simple fixes to complete workstation redesigns, this WorkSafe BC Guide is full of ways to prevent musculoskeletal injury (MSI) from prolonged improper workstation use.

Since many of us are now working from home, it’s a good idea to take an hour to select the most optimal area in your home to set up an ergonomically friendly workstation.

Check Your Posture

Ideal posture may be difficult to achieve, but keep in mind that if you are sitting for prolonged periods, using appropriate furniture, etc. to assist in keeping your body in an optimal posture could be worth the extra effort.

When using a computer:

Forearms should be at a 90-110 degree angle to your body.
Wrists should be in a neutral or straight position.
Head should be upright over your shoulders, looking slightly downwards to your computer.
Thighs horizontal to the floor with a 90-110 degree angle at the hip.
Feet supported.

Your chair should:

Adequately support your back to prevent fatigue and poor posture
Be the appropriate height to the workstation to prevent shoulder, neck or leg pain.
Be close enough to your keyboard to avoid awkward back or shoulder positions.
Allow for some variability in posture over extended periods.

Your main computer screen should:

Be positioned to bring the top line of text to eye level.
Be about an arm’s length from your eyes.
Be directly in front of you and in line with your keyboard and chair.
Not have glare from external lighting and be set at brightness that reduces eye strain.

From Workstation to Job Design

Sometimes an optimal workstation is out of reach, and while small adjustments can help alleviate strain and pain over time, taking care in how you do your job makes a big difference in these work at home situations.

Take time to review your job and task list day to day, and pay attention to how you tackle these tasks. If you are able, design your work to ensure that fatigue doesn’t make your job more challenging than it needs to be!

During your day:

Take breaks from computer work that allow you to get up from your desk and change your posture. Even just a few minutes of rest can allow your body to recharge.

Incorporate micro-pauses into lengthy tasks. Pausing for 20 seconds or longer, changing your position, and pulling your hands back from the keyboard and mouse can give your arms, wrists and hands a needed rest.

Take time to do some exercises to increase blood flow, stretch muscles, and reduce eye and neck strain. Download the Guide for some sample exercises that you can do to reduce fatigue.

When working from home, it’s important to remember to keep yourself safe and healthy! Make sure that you switch off from work, take time to get away from your computer, and remember that even though you’re working from home, your work and home lives should still be separate.

Stay safe everyone!