Since many organizations have now made the move to becoming a virtual organization, we wanted to share a few ergonomic tips for setting up your home office workspace.
Movement – Change it Up!
Even with good furniture and equipment, doing a single task in a single position repeatedly will create fatigue and discomfort. There is no single “correct” working position that produces comfort for extended periods of time or that fits everyone’s work tasks and body. Changing tasks and alternating between sitting and standing, reclined sitting and walking helps to avoid the negative effects of prolonged office work.
Chair – Support Your Body
Be sure to support your back and legs in comfortable working postures. Adjust the height of your chair seat so that it is at or slightly below knee height. The chair seat should provide comfortable thigh support and leave a space between the front of the seat and the back of the knee when you are sitting back in your chair. The height of and distance between your armrests should allow your forearms to be supported and your shoulders relaxed at all times. Finally, the chair should support your back and provide you with adequate lumbar support at your waist. No lumbar support? Try placing a rolled up towel there instead.
Keyboard – Support Your Arms
The keyboard should normally be about elbow height and they should be used on a flat surface. The keyboard should not be tilted up. The goal is to have the forearms horizontal with the wrists straight, not bent back.
Monitor – Your Body Follows Your Eyes
The viewing distance of the monitor should be at one arm’s length (16” to 29” or 40cm to 74cm) away. If the monitor is too far away you may lean forward which can cause fatigue. If it is too close, it tends to create eyestrain and discomfort. The monitor height should allow the neck to be in a neutral position when looking at the top row of text on the screen – aim for the top of the screen to be at your seated eye height. If you wear glasses and look through the lower portion of the lenses, it may help to position the monitor lower or tilt it back slightly.
Reach – Keep it Close
Reduce long or awkward reaches for the keyboard, mouse or phone. Set up the workspace with frequently used equipment conveniently close to your body – try to keep frequently used items within a forearm’s distance. Avoid reaching outside shoulder width when using your mouse – this lets the shoulders stay relaxed and the wrist and hands work in comfortable postures.
Remember, all parts of the workstation need to work together – after adjusting the individual components, fine-tune the setup so it fits your body and specific tasks and always ensure you have the appropriate accessories for the work you’re doing.
Looking for more information? Check out the Office Checklist which provides a quick summary of important considerations for your workspace. For even more detail, see the Office Mini Posters from the new provincial MSD Guideline: Quick Start Guideline for Office Environments.
Health & Safety Consultant
Public Services Health & Safety Association