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The sudden directive to work from home, caused by COVID-19, didn’t give organizational leaders time to provide its employees with the proper equipment or the training on how to use it. Michelle Robertson and Kathleen Mosier, representing the International Ergonomics Association (IEA) and in conjunction with the International Labour Organization (ILO), provide tips for workstation set up to support their remote workforce. Certified ergonomist Blake McGowan explains.

Resources: References: Michelle M. Robertson & Kathleen Mosier. Work from home: Human factors/ergonomics considerations for teleworking. 20 April 2020. International Labour Organization (ILO).

Video Transcript

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an abrupt shift in the nature of how and where we conduct work. The shelter-in-place directive has drastically increased the population working from home. Typically, the shift to working from home was done without consideration of two essential elements in the management of work: human factors and ergonomics.

Recently, Michelle Robertson and Kathleen Mosier, representing the International Ergonomics Association in conjunction with the International Labor Organization, have provided the following tips to set up your workstation properly while working from home:

  • Choose a dedicated, quiet, and secure space for your workstation.
  • Make sure the area is at least six feet by six feet or two square meters to accommodate most work activities, equipment, and furniture. The work surface should be about 26 inches or 66 centimeters high and at least 23 inches or 60 centimeters deep.
  • Use an ergonomically designed chair.
  • Use a full-size external monitor, keyboard, and input device. If using a laptop, use a surge protector and a docking station.
  • Keep cables and electrical cords and wires tucked away to prevent tripping and fall hazards.
  • Make sure you have Wi-Fi speed and capability to match your work requirements.
  • Lastly, have access to a mobile phone, headphones, and speakers.

So, what does this mean? What’s the bottom line? The bottom line is that most working from home environments are ill-equipped to meet people’s capabilities. Make sure that the working from home environment provides the right workstation furniture and equipment to ensure your working from home employees are as productive as possible and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders as well as other health-related issues.