Creating Comfortable and Healthy Work Spaces

Whether your working from home, or at the office, get outside & enjoy a walk!  Photo Courtesy of Charly Caldwell II

With more of us continuing to do screen-based work in non-professional settings, i.e, spending hours crouched over laptop screens on sofa’s or kitchen tables, it is essential that we set ourselves up for success.

This means creating work spaces that are both comfortable and healthy and do not negatively impact us physically (cue sore necks, shoulders and upper backs).
With some thoughtful planning, you can create a more ergonomic workstation that makes your time spent working from home a little less uncomfortable.
Keep all angles at 90 degrees
If you have a height-adjustable desk and desk chair, make sure you adjust them to a 90-degree angle to avoid slouching. Your knees, hips, and back should also be of utmost priority.

Flat feet
Whether you put them on the ground or use a footrest, you should keep your feet flat. This will help to maintain the 90-degree angle in #1.

Neutral positioning
If you’re working between two screens, make sure that you are positioned to face the middle where they connect, maintaining your head in a straight and neutral position.

Avoid forward head and neck posture: tuck your chin in, lengthen your neck and bring your head back into alignment with your shoulders. Imagine a balloon string pulling you up.

Mouse and keyboard
Try keeping these essential work tools close to the body so that you aren’t reaching out to use them. If possible, use a separate keyboard, monitor and mouse.

Keeping a cup of water beside you rather than a large drink bottle will encourage you to get up for a refill more often and thereby have a quick bout of incidental activity.

Aim to get up and move every 20 to 30 minutes to avoid joint stiffness. Setting a reminder on your phone helps with accountability.

Stretches should involve anything opposing the position you were sitting in. This includes elbow extensions, knee extensions, neck stretches and wrist rotations.

Handheld devices
Use earphones instead of holding the phone to the ear. It becomes increasingly difficult to multi-task (because everybody does), so ensure that you’re keeping the phone on the table, allowing you to type and eliminating the habit of bending your neck.

We all know how important exercise is for every aspect of life, but in terms of desk-based work, you specifically need good general strength and flexibility in your neck, shoulders, back, and abdominal muscles to support good posture.

Breathing exercises
To avoid tension building in your neck and upper shoulder muscles, take three deep breaths down into your diaphragm and belly every 20 to 30 minutes, soften your shoulders and draw your shoulder blades back and down. Again, the reminder setting on your phone is a valuable tool, use it.

Maintain a consistent routine. Balance your daily schedule by factoring in breaks for eating, getting fresh air and connecting with at least 1 other person.

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