Homeworking is in fashion, in Switzerland as well as abroad. Many companies now encourage their employees to work from home, whilst more and more solopreneurs join business centers. What are the recommendations for preserving ergonomics and a healthy posture?
Your body is the same in every context: the advice that we provide on our DSE training (Display Screen Equipment) is valid under every circumstance. Furthermore, you should beware three hazards specifically related to working from home or a remote location:
The ergonomic risks related to the seat are illustrated below: an ergonomic office chair with a good lumbar support, a kitchen chair with just a high backrest, and a couch. To work in good conditions, you need to invest in a good office chair, which you can purchase from approx. CHF 450 ($450). Make sure that you read this article before buying.
Regarding your neck, now: the lower and the more horizontal the screen (e.g., a tablet lying flat on the table), the more you flex the neck. When you work on a laptop from a fixed location (e.g., from home), you can choose between two ergonomic solutions:
If you use two systems (e.g., a desktop PC and a laptop), you can consider a connector to share a keyboard, a mouse and a screen which allows you to flip from one system to the other with a mere switch.
Regarding the breaks: your lumbar discs would like you to stand every 30 min at least, be it for 2-3 minutes only (coffee break, bathroom, phone, chat). Your neck and eyes would like to relax even more frequently, but for a shorter duration. These breaks seem frequent; however, bear in mind that they are simply biomechanical breaks. They do not force you to take an intellectual (or psychological) break, which would suppose that you take time to re-focus on your task. With a biomechanical break, you don't waste any time...
If you can install it, I recommend the Workrave (Windows) or Time Out (iOS / Mac) freewares, which will prompt you to take breaks if you don't take them naturally.
If you want to receive personal advice on your workplace ergonomics, visit our page on ergonomics at a distance.
To read more: Mobile Working Risk Management System, published by the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors (CIEHF)
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