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With the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees are working from home for extended periods of time. Whether this is new for you, or something you do all the time, it’s important to know how to prevent the risks that lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

Video Transcript

Ergonomics is all about improving your comfort, health, and productivity with thoughtful workplace design. If you find yourself working from home for an extended period of time, there’s some small design changes you can make to promote neutral postures and movement wherever you are.

Use a hard work surface like a table or a desk. Make sure there is enough space underneath without drawers or clutter getting in the way. Set the top of your monitor at or slightly below eye level and position the monitor itself about an arm’s reach away. This will help keep your neck straight. If you have an adjustable monitor arm or stand already, great! If not, grab a stack of books from the shelf to elevate your monitor to the proper working height.

If you only have a laptop, you can tilt the monitor back a bit to create more distance. Position your screen away from light sources to limit glare. Take a few minutes to learn common keyboard shortcuts too, to reduce mouse or trackpad use. Where you can, use external devices instead of your laptop’s keyboard and trackpad. This will allow you to keep your arms close to your body, with your elbows near your sides, and your wrists straight.

Choose a chair with back support and some cushioning; don’t sit on a stool, your couch, or an exercise ball. You can also add a chair pad to the seat and place a rolled T-shirt or towel for low back support. Keep your knees at ninety degrees and your feet flat on the floor or another surface. If you don’t have an adjustable chair, you can keep your feet properly supported with a footrest or another stack of books. Home is not necessarily a perfect environment to get work done, but here are a few quick reminders that can help improve your situation:

  • Remember to move. Don’t sit in one position for longer than two hours at a time.
  • If your setup isn’t ideal, try to get up and move even more frequently. Try standing for breaks, phone calls, or simple writing tasks on a taller surface like a counter or dresser.
  • Routine is still very important. Even though it’s tempting to work in your pajamas all the time, get dressed like you normally would.
  • Take regular breaks and schedule yourself a lunch.
  • Keep your calendar up to date and use group messaging or video chat to stay engaged with the rest of your team.
  • Use headphones to cover up unwanted background noise.
  • Increase ventilation with a fan or by keeping your doors or windows open.
  • Add some greenery or at least photos of nature.

It can be a little intimidating to reconfigure your home into a working space, but stick to the basics and you’ll be set up in no time. Don’t forget to check out for helpful office and industrial ergonomics information.

Happy Remote Working!