How to make your home office ergonomic and productive

May 1, 2020 8:16 am

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The current government lock-down has you suddenly working from home, and many of you do not have access to a private home office and are likely making due with what you have. Using your dining room table or couch for work spaces is not the best for keeping your body in proper position. Here are some tips on how to make your at-home office comfortable, ergonomic and productive.

  • Designate a workspace: It’s often difficult to stay focused solely on work while at home. There are lots of things you could be doing; cleaning, binge-watching your favorite show, or anything other than work. You must designate a specific space so that you can separate work from home life. It’s also beneficial to have some sort of sound barrier, whether that means your designated space is somewhere very secluded from everything else going on at home, or you put on some noise cancelling headphones, white noise, or blast your favorite music to drown out the world.
  • Focus on comfort: Depending on the area you chose as your designated work space, you may need to make a few adjustments. For example, if the chair you’re sitting in keeps your back rounded, place a pillow between your low back and the chair to give you the right lumbar support. Also try to keep your feet flat on the floor. There are some positions that can seem comfortable at the moment, but sitting up straight with your feet on the floor is the most supportive for your back, especially when sitting for a few hours. If you’re using a laptop, use a keyboard and mouse if you have them available, and make sure you place them at a level where you can keep your shoulders down instead of flexed and tense. Also, bring your computer or laptop to eye level so you aren’t bending your neck to look at the screen.
  • Neutral pose: A neutral pose is the natural way your body falls. Ideally you want your ears over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips. You want everything in line. Arms relaxed at your side, not reaching up or out. When you are consistently overreaching your body can create imbalances which can lead to pain.
    Take frequent breaks: Changing positions frequently is beneficial for your body and mind. It can prevent aches and pains that normally come with an office job that has you sitting in one position for hours on end, and it gives your mind a break so you’re actually more productive during your work time. Work for 30 to 40 minutes and take a 5 to 10-minute break. This is a great time to walk to the sink and wash your hands and refill your water bottle. Taking a quick break will not only will it improve your productivity, but it allows your body to change positions and get a little movement in between. Before you sit down again perform a few stretches to loosen your tense muscles and reset your muscle memory.
  • Work when you’re at your most productive: Nobody sprints through their work from morning to evening, your motivation will naturally ebb and flow throughout the day. When you’re working from home, it is important to plan your schedule around those ebbs and flows. To capitalize on your most productive periods, save your harder tasks for when you know you’ll be in the right head-space for them. Use slower points of the day to knock out the easier, logistical tasks that are also on your plate.
  • Finally, pick a definitive finishing time each day: It is easy to assume working from home establishes more work-life balance. But you can get so caught up in your activity that you lose complete track of time. Set an alarm at the end of the day to indicate your normal work day is coming to an end. You may not be ready to stop at exactly that time, but knowing the work day is technically over can help you transition back into family or self-care time.

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