The global pandemic has forced most of into a lockdown, with many of us forced to work from home. And while many of us see this a blessing, some experts have warned about the potential consequences when it comes to health.
The Ergonomics Health Association released released a series of new guidelines to help remote workers stay comfortable and healthy.
“The global pandemic has very abruptly pushed employees into a new home work environment. For better or worse, I strongly believe that this trend will continue in a post pandemic world too”, commented Adam Binstock, President of Ergonomics Health Organization.
He goes on to say “We’re seeing a number of positive benefits from workers being able to work at home. People value the increased flexibility, efficiency, and independence. But it’s not a perfect solution, and these issues need to be explored”.
The guide’s main contributor, Meredith Chandler (OT) goes on to elaborate on a number useful tips for creating an ergonomic, productive, and healthy work situation.
As most people are sitting for extended periods while working, she focuses on proper sitting and desk setup. Apart from choosing a suitable ergonomic chair, how you sit is equally important.
How to sit properly
Chandler recommends the “90-90-90 rule”. It allows the person sitting to keep their legs, hips, and back at roughly 90 degrees throughout the workday. The person should have their arms and wrist at 90 degrees while using their computer.
Yet, the comfort and design of one’s chair is a single aspect of a user-friendly remote workstation. The recommendations include several other elements that can make someone’s desk meet their needs. In order to achieve this position and be comfortable, she recommends a number of ergonomic products such as monitor risers, under desk keyboard trays, and even lumbar support cushions.
Some other important guidelines she recommends are:
- Monitor risers can keep the screen at face-level
- Laptop stands to ensure better outcomes when using it at a desk
- Back cushions may help with immediate comfort and training a person to sit correctly
She also emphasises the importance of maintaining excellent posture while sitting. Good posture has several health benefits such as:
- Fewer headaches
- Less back pain
- Higher levels of concentration
- More energy
Although not completely understood, the mental health consequences from working from home are beginning to surface. Issues such as depression, loneliness, lack of motivation, and anxiety, are all risks for remote workers.
Chandler cites a few important studies but also lists some of the warning signs that workers and employers should pay attention to. She also recommends some important things like maintaining contact with family and friends, using all the mental health resources available, getting regular exercise, and having a strict work routine.