Ergonomics


Home Office Ergonomics

With the onset of Covid-19 several of us found ourselves working from home rather than our normal offices.  In many instances, this means dining room tables have become our new desks, most of us are working from laptops rather than desktops and facing the challenge of having only one monitor.  These make shift workstations make us feel less productive and can be uncomfortable.  We have compiled the following tips to help make our home workstations a little more comfortable. 

Keeping your body in neutral postures is key to working comfortably. 

Correct Sitting Posture

  • Your head and neck should be aligned so that your head is vertical to your neck. In most cases the corner of your eye should be on the same plane as the top one-third of your monitor.  With laptops this can be simply accomplished by placing books under the laptop.  The exception to this rule is when the user is wearing bifocals.  The initial focus should still be in the bottom one-third of the screen however in order to accomplish this the monitor is usually lower. This action will require that an external keyboard and mouse are added.
  • Your shoulders should be relaxed, not shrugged but supported. This is accomplished in your campus office by raising or lowering the keyboard tray.  At home we can accomplish this by adding a board on your work surface to raise the keyboard and mouse.  Studies show that forearm support is an essential part of maintaining ergonomic health, therefore the board should not create any drop off points or pressure points. To make the keyboard lower, try sitting on sofa pillows, sofa pillows can also be used as a foot rest. 
  • Wrist should be an extension of the forearms, and not flexed upward or downward. If needed, palm rests can be created, by rolling a towel and placing it along the edge of the keyboard.  Avoid sharp edges, which cause pressure points.
Wrist support with a towel in a home office
  • Your seated position should have a slightly greater angle than 90° and not more than 110° to relieve pressure on the spine. Lumbar support can be added by adding a soft pillow or rolled towel in the small of your back.  Too hard of a support can cause a pressure point and sore back.

lumbar support for a regular chair at home

  • When selecting a chair, check the depth of the chair, you should have a fist distance between the edge of the seat and the back of your knees. If the seat is too deep this will cause pain in your legs and back.  A pillow behind the back can help to adjust the seat depth.  Placing feet on a low box or pillow can also help relieve pressure on the legs.  Standing for short periods of time can be helpful.  Studies show that standing for long periods of time can be much worse than sitting.  People also tend to lean if standing for longer than ten minutes.
  • One of the best things to do is to take frequent micro-breaks. Every twenty to thirty minutes change positions, get a drink walk around your house, or try quick stretches and flexes.  These micro-brakes don’t have to last long, but they make a huge difference.  There are also free apps that will help you remember to get up and take breaks.

For personalized home assessment, send a picture of yourself sitting at your home workstation to remergo@purdue.edu

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