The following blog content is provided by EWI Works, one of Canada’s leading ergonomics companies. Visit their website for in-depth resources, Apps and online courses to help you with your ergonomics.
Many people thrive while working remotely. Only most of them didn’t have to set up a home office overnight and start working remotely at the same time as their spouse and kids.
But you did. And while you might not have the time and resources to deck your home workstation out, these quick home office hacks can help you through it.
Home Office Hacks: Working Remotely During COVID-19
First, always listen to your body. Discomfort and pain are your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. If it’s day three of working on your laptop at the dining room table and your neck is burning, wrists are aching, it’s time to change your setup. Those neck rubs you enjoy are just a band aid solution.
The truth is, none of us know how long this is going to last. So, the time to act on these home office hacks is now.
With these tips, you can minimize your discomfort while improving your focus and productivity, all for free.
Believe it or not, your house is already full of items you can use to spruce up your workstation. They might not be the prettiest, but that cardboard box from the pantry or that old stack of board games can make a perfect surface to put your laptop or monitor on.
Innovative Household Solutions
Use as many as you need to bring the top of the screen to eye level. Your neck will thank you in no time. Of course, this does require the use of an external keyboard and mouse. If you don’t have those available, consider ordering them online.
Pillows are also a robust tool for home office hacks. If the table or counter you’re working on is too high, you’ll likely notice discomfort in the shoulders, wrists, arms, or upper back. Putting a cushion on top of your seat can give you the boost you need to bring your elbows in line with the worksurface. This is particularly useful is your chair isn’t adjustable.
Pillows also come in handy on chairs that don’t have much lumbar support. A small towel works well here too. Simply roll it up and place it in the small of your back. It’s sometimes tricky to get this right – every chair and every person’s back is different. If you’re still feeling discomfort, take a short movement break every half an hour or so.
A small towel or cloth can work wonders as palm supports as well, helping you keep your wrists neutral as you use the keyboard.
Lastly, books make great footrests – always keep your feet flat on the ground with the thighs parallel to the floor or supported by something firm.
If you like to stand while working, which we recommend most people do for about ten minutes per hour, you’ll need to get a little creative. You might think you don’t have a height-adjustable worksurface at home… But what do you use to iron your clothes?
Ergonomic Home Office Hacks
That’s right, ironing boards make great standing workstations. Just be sure to raise your screen to the correct level as mentioned in the home office hacks above. A kitchen island can work well, too, as long as it’s the appropriate height.
But there’s more to success in working from home than just your physical setup. Choose a quiet, tidy room or corner for your workstation and use headphones if you still find you’re getting distracted by noise or voices.
Trying to work in a hectic environment isn’t only bad for productivity, it’s also trying on your mental wellness.
Communicate regularly with those you live with about your work needs and stick to your work schedule as much as possible. Setting these boundaries is critical as you run your entire personal and professional life from under one roof.
At the same time, don’t put up boundaries with your work team. Stay connected through Slack, Google Hangouts, or GoToMeeting. If you usually take lunch together then continue to do that. And if you didn’t, maybe now is the time to start.
Physical Distancing, Not Social Distancing
Having non-work-related chats with your colleagues is an essential part of a resilient and healthy workspace. We can’t let this go just because we are no longer seeing each other face to face. That’s why we use the term physical distancing, not social distancing.
Humans are social creatures. We need to interact with one another to be healthy, even if it has to be done virtually. Just as we need to move and eat healthily, we need to socialize as well.
And beyond these home office hacks, doing simple things like decorating your work area with pictures, plants, whatever you like, goes a long way to improving (or maintaining) your mental wellness.
An ergonomic workstation is a tidy one. So in addition to the home office hacks above, check out our Workstation Setup Checklist. In the end, you may feel like you’ve tried everything and still can’t find the solution. That’s not uncommon – the body is a wonderfully complex thing.
But there’s always an answer. So if you are in discomfort, please reach out to us or consider our new Remote Ergonomics Coaching Service for a quick one-on-one session with a certified ergonomist to address your concerns about your home office and staying health while working remotely.
EWI Works offers many services that can improve your quality of life. We have developed several cost-effective remote services to help you transition to remote work. Find out more about our Online Training, Services, and Resources.