All workers have the right to work in places where the risk to their health and safety are appropriately controlled. This includes things such as the ergonomics of the working environment to the employee. Health & Safety legislation is now so well embedded in the United Kingdom the phrase health & Safety gone mad has made it into our lexicon as the lines of common sense as the battle between common sense and the words ‘appropriately controlled.
So what is the problem when the ‘appropriately controlled’ is yourself, do things slide back to the grey area of common sense? Are we at risk of building a new generation of muscular skeleton, aches, pains, and strains from our working from home – offices.
To help answer that question we take an exciting look at some best practice principles for improving home office ergonomics
The meaning of Home office Ergonomics
Ergonomics – The science of designing the work environment for you, to facilitate efficient and safe workingalso known as ‘biotechnology, human engineering, and human factors engineering’
Getting the ergonomics right has a number of benefits to us, here are some key things from my list;
- Improve performance
- Improve productivity
- Efficient use of your working environment
- Improve ability to concentrate
- Improve ability to focus
- Reduce personal injury
Where the ergonomics of your working environment is not in balance then the risks to health can over time be accumalative, add also to the opposite direction of inefficient working environment, impact to productivity, risk to your mental health as focus and concentration become impacted.
Ergonomics Troubleshooting for your working at Home set-up
Improve Home Office Ergonomics through movement
Movement is your friend, just do not tell that to folks who do a lot of long-distance flying. The body needs to move at several levels, eye strain if you are using screen technology and muscular-skeleton aches and pains through lack of movement.
Move away from your workstation
Screen Timers, smartwatch timers, looking at the clock are all useful methods for stopping what you are doing and taking yourself out of your home office desk environment. The office equivalent to walking to the drinks machine. We all should be moving physically out of the chair every 30 minutes with a maximum duration of 60 minutes in the chair, an obvious exception if we are on a meeting call. Recommendations to help reduce eye strain are even shorter with screen breaks every 15 minutes.
For folks who are fortunate enough to be in the work place will know how these guidelines play out in the real world. Guidelines are there and in may be these guidelines can be closer adhered to in your home office set-up that they could in the workplace
Movement at the desk
Your home office desk should have a clear space beneath, clear of a dustbin, the PC, books and boxes. that area when seated should allow you to stretch your legs, stretch your calves and move your legs. You do not wish to be in a position where you are climbing into your work seat as if it were the cockpit of a fighter aircraft.
Building a Standing Home Office Work Station for improved Ergonomics
Just how do you create a standing workstation in your home? Simple go to your kitchen, no the dining room, the work counter will be a suitable starting height for your standing workstation. For the next part of the tip, you really need a writer’s slope to place on your newfound standing workstation. That will provide further elevation and angle for your notes or laptop to be placed on.
Coming to an office near you, over the last 10 years the emergence of standing workstations has started to crop up in corporate buildings around the world. The buzz words of such setup have included the need to make meetings more productive, save space, accommodate more mobile staff, etc. Did you know the stand-up workstation has also great ergonomic benefits to our physical well-being? It is another one under Movement. That’s right, movement is so key to your well-being we thought we create not 1 bullet tip but 2.
It is not suggested this make-shift setup should be used for writing your next novel, but it facilitates that overall objective of planning some of your days in a standing capacity adding to your overall objective of moving. The obvious candidate is meetings, just remember do not run kitchen appliances while you are working and perhaps perfect the skill of blurring your background, as copper pans and an over maybe a strange background while pitching to your audience.
The other benefit for stand up work station is that it allows you to incorporate movement without loosing productivity
Home Office Chair Arms and Ergonomics
In the years of office work, I am struggling to remember a time when the seat when adjusted to the right height would actually fit under the desk, thanks to the arms. Arms on a chair are a great prop when talking to people, or when on the phone. Arms on a chair may be a hindrance when in work mode as your chair may not be able to get close enough to the desk.
Lower those chair arms if you find your chair pushing you back too far from the work service, while typing may not be so much of an issue but if you write with a pen, where the close proximity of the body over the table requires different ergonomic consideration.
Home Office Desk layout for improved Ergonomics
A good desk layout from an ergonomic perspective helps improve your working productivity and efficiency. Top tip; borrow from the past in something called a time and motion study. Back in the day, there used to be people with clipboards who would come and monitor you at work, take notes and suggest changes to your working practices to deliver great products. That was the theory, In practice, this time and motion folks knew very little about the work you were doing so their input was limited to mechanic process changes that had little relevance to your health or perhaps safety. We are going to borrow the observation part of a time and motion study and apply it to improved ergonomics.
If you can film yourself completeing a cycl of work with your mobile phone while at your desk. position the camera to facilitae a birds eye view of your working set up in full use.
What we are looking for is the position your body is in relation to the mouse, keyboard, desk and monitor. We are also looking at the position of storage for filed papers and your writing area. When you make notes where do you put those notes. where is the phone located do you use the land line, if its the mobile where is the mobile, how do you charge it, do you have it on charge during work time which means the phone is in another part of the room.
Overal how efficient dow the whole process look. if you throw your video clip into a video editor, try speeding the film up, you do not need sound, how does the flow look. where is the position of the clock.
After your self study your objective is to make tweaks to yoru working environment to create a fluent prudctive work environment.
Repetive movements that impact ergonomic in your Home Office
Any repetitive movement puts strain on our muscular skeletal systems, typing excessive amounts, using the wrong keyboard, clicking lots with a mouse, a mouse that is positioned too far away from your keyboard a mis aligned keyboard to work station screen. All incremental mis alignments add up to put strain on our arms kneck and down our trunks. Maintaining correct posture is also a key consideration and needs to be appraised an adjusted.
Home Office Furniture position that impacts Ergonomics
And lastly for this current iteration of this blog, the layout of your home office furniture. Chair, Desk, and Screen. things to look out for and adjust. The distance you are from the table, the height of the chair, the height of the monitor to your head height.
Ergonomic Professional Help is at hand
In the office, your company can offer you work station assessment, which includes the skills of Physiotherapy and Occupational therapy. The ergonomics of your home office environment, especially if you are a freelancer, go from job to job, or yet to start employment, falls on your shoulders. A quick scout on the internet brings up services in the field of Desk, Screen, and Equipment (DSE) assessments. These are the professionals in the field.
requires professional input, you may seek such advice from physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, companies offering workstation assessments, etc. Your own company will have