As workplaces try to prevent the spread of COVID-19, employees may find themselves unconventionally working from home. While working from home has clear advantages, it’s important to remember that new work spaces can pose concerns. Where you work and how you work is important to your health and safety.
Maintain proper posture, paying careful attention to positioning of head, neck, spine, arms, wrists, hips, thighs and feet. Basically, ensure the small of your back is supported, your shoulders are relaxed (not slumped and not elevated), and that there is no pressure under your thighs. Sure, you can do everything from your laptop while sitting on the wooden chair at your kitchen table, but you can’t do it without putting yourself at risk.
There are many reasons why computer users experience discomfort. At best, discomfort is an annoyance and can inhibit productivity. At worst, it can lead to injuries and/or disabilities. It’s important to address discomfort and the possible causes of it as soon as possible.
Take frequent mini-breaks throughout the day to give muscles and joints a chance to rest and recover. Your body wants you to move! Also be sure to take breaks in their entirety. Don't short-change yourself, especially during your lunch hour. You can use a simple clock or timer on the screen when you take a break. If you return to your desk after only 40 minutes, walk for another 20.
If possible, work in a quiet room with the door closed. If there are distracting noises, try headphones, ear plugs, soft music or a quiet fan to reduce or mask the sounds.
Reduce or eliminate glare by using window shades, diffusers on overhead lighting and anti-glare filters for computers.
Don’t forget that not all stress is physical. To help fill the socializing gap while working remotely, find a colleague you can call when you’re feeling the need to chat. Alternatively, buddy up with a friend who works elsewhere and is going through the same experience. Hopping on a social video call instead isn’t a bad idea, either.
We all know that exercise is essential for overall health. You might be getting less of it when working at home. You may be walking less because you are not commuting to and from an office, going to meetings, and so on. Make sure that you make time to exercise when working at home.
With a little planning, we can ensure our health and wellness when working away from the office. Check the links at top right to learn more and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for more information on workplace health and safety.
Computer Workstation Ergonomics (WorkSafeNB)
Healthy Workplaces: Ergonomics (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety)
Office Ergonomics: Your How-To Guide (Mayo Clinic)