The Ergonomic Home Office: How to create a safe workspace
10 September 2021

The onset of Covid-19 has seen a dramatic shift with staff and students suddenly working from home. As we find ourselves with makeshift work-from-home setups, some of our new improvised workspaces may fall short of ideal. The right ergonomic workstation has been shown to reduce problems such as muscle strains, lower back injuries and tendonitis, along with reducing muscle fatigue and boosting productivity.

Our Health and Wellbeing Tutor, Dr Sadia Farzana, is appealing to staff and students to be mindful of health and safety. “I think this is a time when we are spending most of our days slumped in chairs whether we’re working or studying,” she says. “As a health professional, I felt that discomfort, pain and injury or DPI can stop us from performing our best during this ongoing lockdown. Perhaps some of us are already experiencing the long-term effects of this deskbound position, like muscle stiffness, neckache or back pain, if we are not maintaining a correct posture.” Spending hours every day typing with arm muscles contracted and keeping your wrists in one position for a long time can contribute to DPI, she says.

The overseas doctor has released these useful tips to help minimise the risk of injury:

  • Make sure your chair is the right fit to give you lumbar support. If not, you can create your own by using a small rolled-up towel or a pillow as a cushion to support your spine. This can help you maintain good posture when sitting for long periods.
  •  Your chair should be at the correct height with your knees at 100–110-degree angles for good lumbar support. Your elbows should be at 90-degree angles. Have your keyboard and mouse close with your arms relaxed and not extended. The top of your computer screen should be at eye level.
  • Remember to change your posture every hour. Drop your arms every five minutes, give them a shake, and try to relax your muscles. Take micropauses. Go for walks at lunchtime if possible.
  • Keep your feet flat to the ground. Crossed legs can decrease blood flow and lead to DPI. Remove heels when you’re sitting and use a footrest if your soles can’t reach the floor. “These simple measures can easily help us to stay well, relaxed, and productive during this challenging time,” Sadia says.
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