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Ergonomic Advice for Temporary and Permanent Home Office Setups

With people suddenly and unexpectedly working from home, many are setting up creative home “office” arrangements. Whether you’re working from your kitchen table, ironing board or a dedicated home office, proper ergonomics will maximize productivity and comfort and reduce your risk of injury.

The following are some tips for creating an ergonomic home office.

Computer Setup

The computer screen should be placed an arm’s length away, with the top of screen at eye level to ensure proper head, neck and back alignment.

Your keyboard should be situated at or slightly below elbow level. Meanwhile, your arms should be supported at your side comfortably. Armrests or other arm support should be high enough for your elbows and forearms to touch the surface. However, they should not be so high that they cause your shoulders to shrug upwards.

Your wrists should be straight and supported by your work surface or other support; a rolled up towel can help.

Suggestions for Sitting and Standing

When sitting, your chair should be at a height where your knees are level with your hips and your feet are flat on the floor. Use something under your feet, such as a textbook, to level your hips.

Your chair should be comfortable and supportive. Try to avoid hard wooden or soft lounge chairs. Use a lumbar support pillow or a rolled up towel behind your low back if needed.

If standing, stand on a supportive mat or wear comfortable sneakers to improve comfort.

General Home Office Ergonomic Tips

Use a headset, Bluetooth attachment or speaker phone for phone calls while typing to avoid maintaining a flexed or bent neck position for extended periods of time.

If able, use a separate keyboard attachment for your laptop to improve screen and keyboard setup.

Get creative with materials around the house. Use towels to boost armrests or a book to raise your computer screen height.

These are just some tips to maximize your temporary or permanent home setup to be the most comfortable, safe and ergonomic it can be.

David Blum, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist at Good Shepherd’s Health & Technology Center in Allentown. He specializes in orthopedics including post-surgical, sports rehab and pain management.