Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Teddy Roosevelt
Many of us first felt the effects of the COVID pandemic by switching from working in an office to working at home. Often this was from the kitchen table or some hastily combined furniture to make a “home office.” Unfortunately, the pandemic has gone on long enough that we are starting to feel the physical effects of working in an ill-equipped and ill-designed environment. We are experiencing neck and back pain, shoulder pain, and carpal tunnel symptoms.
And now many companies have announced that many employees will continue to work from home either full or part-time. Our bodies can’t take too many more hours at the kitchen table or on a laptop designed for occasional use. Here are some suggestions to help create a better work environment for the long haul.
- Chair: Good office ergonomics begins with a good adjustable, well-fitting office chair. When properly fit for you, the hips are scooted to the back of the chair and there are a couple of finger widths between the back of the knees and the front of the chair. The height is adjusted so that the knees are slightly below the hips and the back is locked in a position of support.
- External keyboard and mouse: Laptops are not designed for long-term use. Instead purchase a USB adaptor so you can plug in an external mouse and keyboard, and use a riser (or several books) to raise up the laptop. Alternatively, you can plug in an external monitor or two. The most common line of the type you use should be at eye level.
- Keyboard and mouse surface: Regardless of the surface (desk surface or keyboard tray), your elbows should rest at your sides and be bent at 90 degrees as your wrists rest on the keyboard. Your mouse should be as close to the keyboard as possible. Avoid placing the mouse out from your body where you have to reach out and hold your arm up as you use it.
By: Tami Struessel, DPT, OCS, MTC, FDN-C