With so much to think about in our new reality of working from home, one thing that we often fail to consider until it’s too late is the ergonomics of our home work space. Over time poor ergonomics can lead to musculoskeletal issues including carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis, back and neck pain as well as headache, fatigue and decreased productivity. By using the simple acronym NEW we can get our ergonomics in check and stay healthy and productive when working from home.
N – Neutral Posture: a neutral seated posture should include sitting with the neck straight, shoulders straight down loosely at the sides, elbows at a right angle, wrists straight, low back supported on the back rest of the chair, 90o at the hips, 90o at the knees, and feet flat on the floor or on a footrest. An adjustable chair or desk, mouse and wrist pad can be very helpful in achieving neutral posture.
E – Eye and Elbow Height: Whether seated or standing – ensure that the keyboard and mouse are positioned at the elbow level. The top of the monitor should be at or slightly below eye height. Keeping the monitor about an arm’s length away will help reduce eye strain. Dual monitors should be located closely together and at the same height and distance so that the eyes do not have to re-focus and the head does not turn significantly when looking between the monitors.
W – Work Area: Keep items that are used frequently in the primary work zone which is the area when elbows are at the sides and items that are used less often in the secondary work zone or area within the outstretched arms. The keyboard and mouse should be positioned in the primary work zone, centered with the user and the monitors.
A few other things to keep in mind are to take frequent stretch and movement breaks, practice the 20-20-20 rule to reduce eye strain and adjust lighting to reduce glare. Check out the CDC’s computer workstation checklist here to make sure your work space is on par to support your best health, energy and productivity.
Subramanian, A., Farris Miller, B. and Fernandez, J. (2020, April 1). Ergonomic recommendations for remote work. EHS Today. Retrieved from https://www.ehstoday.com/health/article/21127667/ergonomics-recommendations-for-remote-work.