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Working from home - are you sitting comfortably?

Working from home - are you sitting comfortably?

As homeworking continues to be increasingly popular, allowing flexible working, there needs to be an awareness of how this can affect your health. The most obvious being the effects on your body.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, musculoskeletal disorders are the most common form of ill health related to work. They recognise that spending long hours in a poor seating position can cause back pain or make existing pain worse. There are also a range of neck, shoulder, arm and hand disorders, that can range from short to long term, that are linked to activities at work.

As a rule, if you feel uncomfortable at your desk or feel stiff after working for a while, it’s worth checking how your equipment is positioned. Most of the homeworkers I treat have a set up that is designed to fit a space rather than designed for the task, ie, using a laptop at the kitchen table or at desk crammed into a small space. In the workplace, your employer is obligated to provide you with suitable space and equipment, why shouldn’t you apply the same standards?

Most people understand the importance of a good mattress, but you can easily spend equal time working as asleep. It’s worth considering your working environment to be a similar investment as your mattress.

My first step when assessing a homeworker is to have a photo taken so we can review their home set up to see what may need improving. This can be as simple as decluttering to create space or adjusting a chair for more comfort. Laptops can be placed on a stand, so the screen is at eye level, relieving pressure on the neck. Whilst adding a plug-in keyboard and mouse relieves strain on the wrists and shoulders.

Often, I make a home visit and we work out how to get the most out of your equipment so changes (and cost!) can be kept to a minimum. I also give you a set of stretches that can be done at or away from your desk.

Here are some simple solutions which only cost a few pounds (and some are free!), yet they make a big difference to your body.

Your chair should support your lower back and you should sit comfortably upright.

The desk and chair height should be set so your forearms are roughly horizontal.

Your knees should be below the level of your hips.

The top of your screen should be at eye level.

If you mainly use a laptop, consider using a docking station, external monitor, mouse and a full-size keyboard.

Ensure wrists are comfortable when using a mouse or keyboard. Use wrist rests if possible.

Avoid clutter where possible. Document holders that place paperwork near the same level as the computer are ideal.

Take regular breaks. Regular short breaks are better than occasional long ones.

In addition, ensure you have adequate lighting.


Posted 01-10-15


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