Working from home if you can during the COVID - 19 pandemic is the right thing to do to protect yourself and your loved ones. However, doing so creates its own issues, which if not properly mitigated can lead to a painful working experience, no matter how much yoga we do.
Here are a few tips to make “Working from Home” much bearable and more comfortable.
Begin by creating a dedicated working space with all your tools around you. If possible, place your laptop perpendicular to a window instead of directly in front of one. The contrast between a bright window and your darker screen creates an uncomfortable glare and can make it difficult for your eyes to focus, which leads to reduced visual function over time.
If you’re using artificial light, use a general lighting source in the room with an extra task light perpendicular to your laptop. Always try to use a warm color temperature LED lamp to avoid eyestrain and heat from the light source.
Maintain a neutral posture while working, that you would naturally adopt to be in a relaxed position without hunching forward, keep your arms at the right level, not too high not too low, and your feet in front of you.
Always adjust the height of your chair using cushions so that your feet are on the floor, or on a footrest, use cushions if the chair does not come with a built-in adjustor. The ideal chair height is 45 cm, the back slightly reclined, with table height around 72 to 75cm.
Once seated, place your arms at 90 Degrees to avoid neck and shoulder stiffness. Your feet should lay comfortably on the floor or on a footrest (cushion, box or stepper) to prevent numbness and soreness. There should be a 2 to 3 finger width between the back of your knees and the edge of your seat. If possible, adjust the back of your chair so that the lumbar support is slightly below your belt line to provide lower back support.
Working on the couch or bed is the worst thing do for your posture, because it will affect your lower back and your neck, and your head will always fall into a rounded shoulder position. If you have no other choice, then always use a keyboard tray to raise your screen to the eye level and place a pillow under your knees to bring your laptop higher and your hands to 90 degrees.
Avoid static work postures by moving at least once an hour; muscles fatigue very quickly and postural change is necessary to keep them active. Set a timer or use an app to remind you to get up and stretch. Make sure to go outside once per day even if just for a short walk, and schedule workouts as you schedule your meetings.
With so much having changed in so little time, even minor positive changes in the way we spend our time working and sitting in front of our computers can have significant impacts and save us aches and pains. Anything we can do to help ourselves feel better in this unprecedented situation can go a long way.
Interior Design Lecturer, Ramez G. Chagoury Faculty of Architecture, Arts and Design