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Ergonomics For The Home Office

Wednesday, May 26, 2010
By Anne Kramer

Working from home has multiple advantages for employees: less time and money wasted on commutes, more flexible scheduling, and fewer interruptions. Yet the home office can also be fraught with ergonomic pitfalls. Many people forget to tailor their home offices to fit their bodies. These adaptations, however, ensure that working from home remains a comfortable and healthy alternative.

Don’t Skip the Desk
Perhaps the greatest temptation of working from home is working on the couch or in bed. Although these places may be comfortable, they don’t offer much support. A proper desk and office chair are safer alternatives that will prevent the development of aches and pains.

  • A desk does need not take up much room in the house. Many workstations are compact and can easily be moved as needed. Some even have built-in document holders.
  • Look for a desk with an adjustable work surface or an adjustable keyboard tray. This feature ensures that the surface can be tailored to each specific user, and is especially important if the home office station also doubles as the family computer station.
  • For laptop users, position the laptop screen with a laptop stand at eye level and install an external keyboard and mouse to promote proper posture for the wrists and hands.
  • Get a fully adjustable ergonomic chair. Change the height so that both feet are flat on the floor. Add lumbar support if necessary. These features will help support posture in the back, shoulders, and arms.
While a traditional desk and chair may appear less comfortable than the more informal couch or bed, they provide indispensable support. They can prevent straining the muscles in the back, neck, and arms.

Pay Attention to the Details
Reduce the chance of carpal tunnel, eyestrain, and other office injuries by creating a home office workstation that addresses all your ergonomic needs. It can be easy to overlook some simple options that will add comfort and functionality to your home work area.

  • Protect your vision with proper lighting. If overhead lighting isn’t adequate, consider a task light. Meanwhile, if lighting is too bright, or if sunlight creates a glare, add an anti-glare filter.
  • Prevent wrist aches and carpal tunnel with wrist rests for both keyboard and mouse. These devices add cushioning and keep the wrists at ideal height during keyboard and mouse use.
  • Frequent mouse users may want to skip the traditional style mouse entirely and change to a foot switch or track ball or Roller Mouse
  • If the work surface is too high and cannot be adjusted, elevate your chair and get a footrest. The simple addition prevents pain in the lower legs and even provides indirect support to the lower back.
  • Position the top of your screen at eye level with the use of monitor stackers.
A home office can be just as comfortable and ergonomically friendly as a traditional workstation. Make working from home both convenient and healthy with the right ergonomic adaptations.

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