You can’t be productive when you’re in pain.”
That’s what Susan Hallbeck says – she’s a doctor and the president of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Ergonomics is the study of how humans interact with the physical systems in their environment: how, for example, we sit at our desks for eight hours a day at work. And how if we don’t do it correctly, it can lead to physical problems and pain.
Now that we’re in the thick of the global Covid-19 pandemic, with hundreds of millions of people abruptly forced to work from home, it’s an urgent topic. Many of us are finding ourselves hunched over laptops on sofas or beds, perched on hard dining room chairs or subjecting our arms and wrists to ill-placed keyboards. For most of us, gone are the days when well-designed offices took care of all these problems for us.
So as we wash our hands and stay isolated to repel the coronavirus, how can we make sure we’re not subjecting our bodies to a different hazard caused by bad work-from-home habits? Here are the top ergonomic tips for working from home, whether it’s during a pandemic or not.
Treat your home like an office
Good ergonomic habits take practice no matter the setting, but it’s especially hard in this current situation. Perhaps, at first, your office said staff would be working remotely for a week or two, so you simply grabbed your laptop and left. That might’ve been okay for a little while – but at this point you might be asking yourself, “it’s been a month and a half, and my elbow is really starting to hurt”, says Hallbeck. “What’s up with that?”