WFH: Ergonomic home office equipment
There are several potential benefits to remote working. Spending more time at home can improve our work life balance. Working from home can also benefit our physical health. First of all, the lack of a commute before and after work gives us more spare time, which can be spent exercising or sleeping. Having access to a kitchen also makes us more inclined to prepare healthier meals, rather than opting for a store-bought sandwich or takeaway.
However, working from home can also be detrimental to our health, which typically stem from a poor-quality work station. Common health issues from a poor home office set up include eye health, neck and back pain as well as repetitive strain injury. There are several ways you can improve your home workstation, whether this is through making some amendments to your existing set up or investing in new equipment and technology. Vision Express discuss how to create a comfortable and ergonomic home office, to look after our bodies and increase productivity.
Blue light filter lenses
Staring at a computer monitor all day can be harmful for our eyes, causing headaches and eye fatigue. Computer screens emit blue light, of which excessive amounts have been suggested to harm our eyes.
Blue light glasses, contain lenses which reduce the amount of blue light which comes into contact with the eye. They usually have a slight blue tint, to counteract the light rays.
Staring at any object for too long can harm our eyes. This includes a computer screen, even when wearing blue light filter glasses. It is also recommended to take regular breaks from staring at a screen. Reducing the brightness of a computer monitor can also reduce the amount of blue light which our eyes are exposed to. As well as this, try to avoid sitting too close to the monitor, you should sit between 20-40 inches away from the screen.
As well as blue light lenses, glasses with anti-glare lenses are also useful for looking after eye health when working from home. Glare from the sun, lighting or computer screen can reflect onto normal lenses, which can irritate our eyes and make it difficult to concentrate. Lenses with an anti-glare coating can reduce the impact of reflecting light on our eyes, preventing eye strain.
Curved computer monitor
When working from home, a common issue many people face is trying to adapt from working with two computer screens, to one laptop. It can be difficult to work as effectively with one small screen when we are used to two. A common mistake people make is using an old television screen as a second monitor, which can be harmful for our eyes, as we shouldn’t sit as close to a television screen as we would a computer screen.
Using two computer screens is ok, however, opting for a singular curved monitor can be just as effective, whilst ease the strain on our eyes, back and neck.
With a curved monitor, the curvature of the screen allows us to see 2 screens’ worth in one. This enables us to see everything in front of us, without constantly having to move our eyes between two screens, which can cause eye strain. This also reduces the need for us to constantly move our neck muscles to view another monitor, which overtime, can cause muscle strain.
When working from home, we spend approximately 35 hours per week sat at a desk looking at a screen. If we are sat in an unnatural, uncomfortable position this often, overtime it can cause muscle strains and aches.
When sitting at a desk, our upper legs should be parallel to the ground. As well as this, the top of the computer screen should be eye-level, to prevent bending our neck up or down for prolonged periods. Working whilst sat on a sofa with a laptop on our laps may seem comfortable, however overtime this can harm our neck muscles, as we are constantly flexing our neck forwards to view the screen.
If your laptop is too low down with your upper legs parallel to the ground, it may be worth investing in a laptop stand to make the top of the screen eye level. This way, you can keep your head vertical to your neck, which is the most natural position which causes the least strain. Alternatively, stacking books underneath a laptop can help, however you struggle to get the perfect position.
An adjustable desk can also help to create an ergonomic work station. They can also reduce the need for a laptop stand, if you adjust the desk so the top of the screen is eye-level.
Adjustable desks allow us to alter how we sit, if we get tired of sitting in the same position all day.
Standing whilst working can benefit our posture, reduce muscle strain and back pain. Sitting for too long can put pressure on the lower back, whereas there is less pressure on our neck and back muscles when standing. However, it may not be so practical to stand whilst working all day, which makes an adjustable desk an ideal solution for working from home, rather than a permanent standing desk. Switching positions throughout the working day, as long they are comfortable and not too strenuous, can increase blood flow and movement to ease stiffness.
Ergonomic office chair
A good office chair doesn’t have to be the most expensive or modern. It should however be comfortable, provide support, mainly to the lower back and reduce back strain.
Most dining chairs and stools are not appropriate for work. They may not cause back pain whilst you enjoy your breakfast every day, however sat there for 8 hours a day, they would cause painful strains to your joints, back and neck.
Ideally, an office chair will also be adjustable, enabling you to alter it accordingly to the rest of your workstation to improve posture and reduce strain.
It is also possible to purchase back rests to fit onto an office chair, which can suffice for alleviating back pain. These are also a cheaper alternative to purchasing a new chair. Also, a back posture corrector can be worn, which encourages the user to maintain correct, natural posture, reducing neck and back pain. This however, is not as comfortable as a high-quality office chair, which is an important factor for a chair we use so often.
Many remote workers also opt for sitting on an exercise ball whilst working. Through balancing, this can actually strengthen the back muscles and encourage us to maintain a healthy posture. Chairs with balance balls installed can also be purchased.
As well neck and back pain, RSI is another common injury which remote workers face. When using equipment such as a keyboard and mouse, we are constantly stretching and bending our arms and wrists in unnatural positions, although very lightly. Overtime however, this can cause repetitive strain injury, due to using the same unnatural motions over and over again.
Ergonomic equipment and technology which reduce RSI, do so by minimising the impact keyboards and a mouses have on our wrists, hands and shoulders. As we use computers so often, laying our arms out flat in front of us may seem natural by now. However, twisting our wrists upwards or downwards towards the keyboard and arching our shoulders and elbows for so long isn’t a natural position, and requires muscles to be used constantly. Over the long-term this can cause RSI, stiffness and pain.
Ergonomic keyboards, mouses and mouse mats are available. These reduce how much we need to twist, stretch and bend our arms and wrists when working. Over the long-term, these can provide benefits to the joints and muscles in our arms, wrists and shoulders.
Remote working allows us to enjoy more time in our homes, to sleep exercise and prepare healthier meals, which is beneficial to our general and mental health. However, it is important to ensure our workstations provide us with a suitable environment to spend so much time working. Over time, a poor home office can result in issues with eye, neck and back health, as well as RSI. These can be prevented with some minor adjustments to our existing workstations and investment where necessary. A comfortable and ergonomic home office is a productive one, enabling us to fully reap the benefits remote working offers.