How to Create the Perfect Ergonomic Office Space At Home
If you find yourself working from home more often these days, here’s how to create an ergonomic office space that supports spinal health and more.
Did you know that almost half of Americans work from home occasionally, if not consistently? With the help of technology, that number will only continue to grow over time.
While working from home is a desirable lifestyle for many, you shouldn’t work just anywhere! To reach your potential in terms of productivity, it’s important to have a specific space in your home reserved for work.
And in that space, you should do your best to create an ergonomic office setup. Because working from bed can not only ruin your work rate but your back as well!
If you’re interested in setting yourself up for success while working from home, you’ve come to the right place. Outlined below is a guide to everything you need to know about creating a safe and comfortable working environment in your home.
Let’s get started!
Pick an Ergonomic Office Chair
Over 30 million adults in the United States suffer from lower back pain. Back pain is so prevalent, in fact, that it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide.
Because of this, your workspace chair is without a doubt the most important piece of your setup.
There are a wide variety of ergonomic chairs available on the market, some of which aren’t ergonomic at all. In order to pick the right chair for you, you need to know what you’re looking for, which is the proper height, support, tilt, and material.
When seated at your desk, your feet should be flat on the floor, with your thighs parallel to the ground. Having a 90-120 degree angle in your knees as you work is important. If you’re working at a high desk that prevents you from doing so, put a footrest beneath you that allows your body to form this angle.
Your spine doesn’t create a perfectly straight line, it curves inward and outward slightly all the way down your back. To support this curvature of your spine, your chair should provide good support.
The most important is lumbar support. Lumbar vertebrae are those in the bottom third of your back and curve inward. So your chair should curve outward where it hits this portion of your spine.
In addition, look for a chair with adjustable armrests. The armrests should be height adjustable, to support those of different arm lengths, but should also be able to pivot inward. When you’re working on a keyboard, your entire forearm should be supported by the chair.
The materials from which your chair is made matter. A good chair will have a comfortable amount of cushion, not too hard, but not so squishy that it’s not supportive. If you fall in love with one that checks every box except seat comfort, you can purchase a coccyx seat cushion to complement the rest.
An ergonomic office chair will allow you to recline and tilt with tension, meaning when you lean on the backrest, your chair leans with you. This will not only make the chair more comfortable but will also relieve your back of an enormous amount of pressure. Your chair should be able to recline or tilt at least 135 degrees.
The best ergonomic office chair is one that’s as adjustable as possible. Take your time to research and find the best choice for you. A high-quality chair will be an investment, but one well worth the extra cost.
Adjust Your Desk to the Correct Height
Desks come in all shapes, styles, and sizes. And while you should pick one that suits you and your space, keep desk height in mind when making your purchase.
If your desk is too high, you’ll strain your arms as you work. On the flip side, a desk that’s too low can cause problems in your neck, back, and shoulders from the constant downward angle of your head and possible hunching.
When you sit at your desk, your legs should fit underneath with your feet flat on the ground. Don’t pick a desk that barely accommodates your legs. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to cross your legs while sitting at it.
Just like with the knee angles, there are certain angles your elbows should naturally go to when seated at your desk. With your arms resting on your desk, your forearm and upper arm should create an angle between 90 and 110 degrees.
Should You Sit Or Stand?
In an ideal situation, you should alternate between sitting and standing throughout your workday. Yes, it’s unhealthy to sit for a prolonged period of time. But it’s not good for you to stand without moving for hours on end either.
If you can, purchase an adjustable desk that raises and lowers, allowing you to transition easily between sitting and standing while working at it.
You may think that repetitive motion injuries only occur in those in construction or other jobs that require them to lift and move heavy objects, but this is not the case. You can develop a repetitive motion injury by sitting or standing in the same position throughout the day.
If you’re absolutely in love with the desk you have and it’s not adjustable, consider purchasing an adjustable desk riser. This device is a platform that sits on top of your desk and can be raised and lowered independently.
Be Mindful Of Your Equipment Placement
With your desk and chair at the right heights, it’s time to position your monitor and keyboard properly. If you can, it’s better to work with a separate monitor and keyboard rather than a laptop or tablet, as all-in-one devices force you to look down while you work.
For those who have to work on a laptop or tablet, you might want to consider adding a separate monitor or keyboard to your workstation. That way, you can still work from your laptop while giving yourself more flexibility.
To avoid neck and shoulder pain, as well as headaches and other symptoms of a poor desk setup, there are a few things you should keep in mind: distance and angle.
When seated at your desk, your monitor should be between 18 and 24 inches away from you, or at arm’s length. If your monitor is too close to your face, you will experience eye strain. Too far, and you’ll find that you’re more likely to hunch forward.
With your keyboard and mouse, remember the elbow angle we discussed earlier. Position your arms so that they create that 90-110 degree angle with your elbows at your sides. Then, place your keyboard where you can reach it comfortably from that position.
Ensure the letters of your keyboard are centered in front of you (the number pad doesn’t count). If your keyboard is centered correctly, the B key will be in line with your navel.
Instead of positioning your monitor so that it’s straight up and down, angle it at about 10-20 degrees. The goal is head and neck comfort – your monitor angle should allow you to hold your head at a comfortable angle and prevent neck strain.
Your keyboard should be placed at a similar angle, about 15 degrees. However, this angle should be negative, meaning the keyboard is tilting away from you rather than towards you. A keyboard that tilts toward you will force you to type with flexed wrists which can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Get Your Body Moving
Even with the ultimate ergonomic office setup, it’s crucial that you take frequent breaks, both from sitting and staring at screens. Every half hour or so, take a short break. Stand up, stretch, maybe walk around your house for a minute or two.
In addition, aim to fit at least 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine. This can be before, after, even during the workday. As long as you’re taking time to move your body and get your heart rate up, you’re good to go.
Regular exercise will help to keep your mental and physical health strong – and don’t worry, you don’t have to go to the gym to do it! Simple movement such as taking your dog for a walk or biking around your neighborhood is enough to reap the benefits.
Set Up An Ergonomic Office To Promote Health And Productivity
There’s nothing wrong with sitting on the couch every now and then. But when you’re sitting for extended periods of time, such as while you’re working, using ergonomic office furniture is a must.
You may not notice the negative effects of poor posture and back support right away, but you will almost certainly develop chronic back pain down the road. By taking preventative steps now, you’re more likely to maintain good health in the future.
For more tips and tricks for creating the perfect home office setup, be sure to take a look at our blog!