Jeff Ross of Wilmslow based physiotherapists, Harris & Ross, shares his expert opinion on how to keep our bodies in good order when working from home.
So – you’ve suddenly been told to work from home, and quite frankly your kitchen table or lounge aren’t really up to it!
Your office has got ergonomically designed desks and chairs, break out areas, stand up desks and all of the IT in all the right places. And home, well home is home – it’s designed for chilling out not to be your office.
This has an impact on both our physical and mental wellbeing. How do we switch from our safe space at home to instantaneous work mode? How do we ensure that we look after our backs and necks when we’re working from the kitchen table?
Don’t worry – we’re here to help. So first and foremost let’s make this fun. The best offices I’ve been into in Manchester have a variety of work spaces. They have ‘normal’ desks, standing desks, breakout areas, sofas and kitchens – in fact theses spaces are starting to look a lot like our homes! The key to so much of this, more than anything else though, is movement. That’s right, in some respects don’t worry too much about where you’re sitting or what you’re sitting on (although a hard chair is definitely preferably to the couch!!) just make sure you move. So if you are sitting it still makes sense to follow some basic good sense such as:
- Arms and legs: ensure elbows are level with the keyboard at 90 degrees.
- Feet: ensure your feet are flat on the floor with your knees at 90 degrees. If you cannot place both feet flat on the floor use a footrest or a pillow if you don’t have a footrest.
- Head and neck: your eyes should be level with the top of your screen. The screen should be directly in front of you, at an arms length away when you are sat at your desk.
- Keyboard: your keyboard should be positioned towards the front of your desk to avoid over reaching and your mouse should be a similar distance away at the side of your keyboard. Remember the letter ‘B’ should be in line with your belly button.
- Other items: items such as pens, mobile phone and notepads should be placed within and easy reach.
But my advice would be – don’t sit for too long and certainly get up and move from where you are every 30 mins.
No standing desk at home? No problem! Get the ironing board out, no not to do the ironing (you’re meant to be working, remember?). Pop your laptop on the ironing board and hey presto you have a standing desk. Alternatively use your kitchen work top or island.
Oh and did I say move? You can’t get enough of this. Seriously set your computer or phone to beep at you every 30 mins to remind you to get up and take a short walk around the room or house. Grab a glass of water to stay hydrated or stick your head outside to catch some fresh air. Maybe even have a quick stretch.
Whatever you do just don’t get stuck sitting down in one place for the whole day – you’ll end up tired and sore and at the end of the day you’ll have been less productive than your colleagues that have been moving throughout the day. You’ll feel drained and tired and start to hate this working from home gig. But if you keep moving, just like you would in one of these fancy new offices it will keep you fresh and feeling better physically and mentally and you’ll be way more productive.
Keep moving, stay safe and if you have any questions at all about how to look after yourself while working from home, or how to deal with any niggles, then please get in touch with us at Harris & Ross.