Is your dining room table, kitchen island, or bed suddenly your space for working from home?
The coronavirus pandemic is forcing millions of us to work or do school assignments at home, often getting the job done in less than ideal conditions, which could be causing all sorts of muscle strain and pain.
As Consumer Reports explains, there are some simple ways to make over your workstation to minimize the strain on your body while maximizing your productivity. Consumer Reports says even if you don’t have a fully equipped home office, you can still create a healthy workstation, and you probably won’t have to spend any money doing it.
You can use stuff you already have around the house. Let’s start with your chair. You want your feet to rest on the floor and your lower back to fit snugly against the back of the chair. If your lower back doesn't reach the back of your chair comfortably, put a pillow behind you. If your feet don’t reach the floor, place them on a stable footrest. CR says there are ways to make even a bed or couch workstation ergonomically sound.
With a couple pillows and a lap tray you’ll be able to take the strain off your back and neck. Your eyes should be an arm's length away from the computer. The top of the computer monitor should be at eye level so that you’re gazing slightly down toward the center of the screen.
Next, bend your arms anywhere from 90 degrees to 115 degrees when you place your hands on your keyboard. In addition to being comfortably seated, CR says it’s important to remember to take breaks. When we stare at the computer screen for long periods of time, we tend to avoid blinking.
And to avoid eye strain, you should follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look 20 feet away.
Lastly, keep moving around throughout the day. That will help prevent some of the back and the shoulder strain that you may feel if you’re seated at your desk for long stretches. And remember: Just because you're working from home doesn't mean you should forget about daily hygiene. Your boss may not know you haven't showered in days, but your new office mates sure will!