Homeworking is now common, in Switzerland as well as abroad. Many companies encourage their employees to work from home, whilst more and more solopreneurs start their own business. What are the ergonomic recommendations for preserving your health when working from home?
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:
The pictures below show how you can create an ergonomic workstation in an Ikea closet. If you do not have a proper office chair, use a lumbar cushion on your kitchen chair.
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: to protect your lumbar discs, you should stand at least every 30 min, be it for 2-3 minutes only (coffee break, bathroom, phone, chat). Your neck and eyes need 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, please choose between the two modalities below.
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