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A brief introduction 

Working from home can be a challenge. It’s uncomfortable and unfamiliar for many of us – especially when we’ve become so accustomed to the structure of working in an office, as well as the added motivation of having hard-working colleagues all around us. While it may be an adjustment, there’s actually a surprising number of unexpected benefits when it comes to working from home. Working in your own workspace means you have absolute freedom. You can choose the perfect setup that will tailor your space to fit your needs, ensure optimal efficiency and help you maintain your physical health.

That’s why having a keen ability to apply office ergonomics at home can help you maximize your workspace. While many of us are not naturally gifted with a built-in knowledge of design and ergonomics, there are some really simple steps that will put you on the right path. Here we’ll give you a good start with our top-of-the-line tips to utilize your workstation in a way that will be best for your productivity and for your health.

What exactly is office ergonomics?

Don’t let the unfamiliar term fool you, it’s actually a very simple concept which can be executed easily. Basically, it’s all about the science of fitting a workplace to a user’s needs while increasing efficiency and productivity, as well as reducing discomfort in a workspace. Think of ergonomics as ‘comfort design’ or arranging a workspace in a specific way for your particular requirements. It’s about making a space as user-friendly as possible and, at home, that user is you.

Your needs

Because it’s your home office, it’s all about your necessities and your requirements. Creating a positive work environment that will cater to your capabilities and daily work tasks is the ultimate goal. You want to feel comfortable, organized and know that it is truly a productive space.

Equipped for ultimate organization 

Different job tasks require different setups. For example, if your work is largely tech-based and involves a lot of graphic design, you may want to opt for a bigger monitor that takes up more desk space so that you can perform tasks with greater ease and speed. If you have a number of different clients, each aligned with a different company and their own varying expectations, you may want to have your calendar and weekly planner front and centre on the desk to refer back to every now and again and make sure you’re up to date with all the different deadlines. 

Think about the materials and kind of storage space you need. If you do a lot of office administration and need more space for filing and document storage, that’s an important thing to consider when using the space to fit your own priorities. It’s also really important to focus on small things like adequate lighting or how close your desk is to power outlets and the printer. These small things will make your life a little bit easier, we guarantee it. Also try to check that you have adequate access to WiFi before you choose your workroom so that you aren’t slowed down by slow-loading internet pages and poor connection – that’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out.

Productivity

The holy trinity of productivity is simple: privacy, organization and comfort. Without those three things, your focus can easily be inhibited and you’ll find your motivation waning.

1. Privacy 

Above all, it’s important to settle on a place where you can shut out all distractions and focus on the task at hand. Try turning an empty room into a home office. If that’s not an option and you’re going to work in the dining room instead, make sure you inform the rest of the house that this will be your working space for the time being and set personal boundaries during your work hours.

Be sure to identify and cut out all distractions beforehand. Find what derails you and eliminate the causes. For example, if it’s the TV, chores on your to-do list or distractions from your family as they go about their at-home life, understand that this could hinder your work and come up with a solution to minimize the impact.

2. Organization

Create an organizational system. File, colour-code and use sticky notes – whatever works for you. Sometimes, just seeing that things are filed, categorized and in the right place could make you feel less stressed and create a better work environment.

Now that you’ve got your workspace arranged and in order, you can also give these 6 simple office hacks a try in order to increase your productivity and enhance your work drive using these other helpful techniques

3. Comfort 

This is potentially the most important of all three. Not only is comfort essential for your mental function and focus, but also for your physical health. Wherever you set up your home office, try to find a space that offers a comfortable workspace that does not sit your body in an stressful position or one that may be difficult to stay in for a number of hours per day. 

An uncomfortable workplace can place strain on your lower back, neck and shoulders. Below we give you our best tips to reduce strain and daily pain by implementing these handy tweaks to your office setup. This is really where the tools of office ergonomics come in. Physical comfort using design is the goal. This can help you decrease the risk of developing strain injuries or any unwanted discomfort from work-related pain.

Reducing pain using ergonomics 

Ergonomics

Height and desk spacing 

Choose a space that has a desk which will be the right height for you and that will allow you to work in a comfortable position. While it may seem super appealing to spend the day in your pajamas working in bed, it’s important to resist that temptation. This can be burdensome on your back and, if you repeatedly maintain the bad posture that comes from working in bed, it can cause prolonged lower back or neck pain. 

Ideally, a home office with a sturdy desk and chair is first prize. You’ll need a desk of the right height or otherwise an adjustable chair so that you are able to rest your arms on the table comfortably. A table that is too high or too low can cause discomfort, so try aiming for one that’s about 70cm to 76cm. If you don’t have a home office, however, the height of a typical kitchen or dining room table is about right and can be used to substitute a desk if you’re happy to set up your home office there.

It may also help to place the monitor or laptop directly in front of you on the desk, roughly an arm’s length away. The screen should be at or slightly below eye level to avoid neck tension from straining to see the monitor. If you feel uncomfortable in any way, remember to adjust your environment to suit your body and never the other way around. 

Your chair and footrest 

According to Mayo Clinic, posture is of primary importance. Be sure to choose a chair that allows you to keep your back in an upright position, supports your spinal curves and allows you to rest your feet flat on the floor. If you need to raise your chair in order to accommodate your desk height, then rest your feet comfortably on a footrest to avoid adopting bad posture. If you’re still feeling any discomfort after following these tips, try getting a foam or blow-up backrest to line your chair. 

Your keyboard, mouse and phone

Place your mouse and keyboard within easy reach to avoid unnecessary stretching. When using your mouse and keyboard, you should be able to keep your wrists straight, your upper arms close to your body, and your hands at or slightly below the level of your elbows. 

Also try to keep key objects such as your phone, calendar and stationery relatively close by to minimize reaching. If you use your phone throughout most of the day to take calls, get yourself a headset or speaker system to avoid cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder and causing neck pain.

Take advantage of your perks

With all the technicalities of creating a perfect, productive workspace, it’s important to still remember to relax and have fun from time to time. While you may miss the comfort and security of an office environment, being at home has its many perks. 

Now you’ve got the freedom to use half an hour for yourself during the day and take a quick break from your work to do something fun like try a new peanut butter and rice crispy treat recipe. Maybe even do a quick, no-equipment exercise session. When you work at an office it feels like there’s never enough time for yourself and sometimes the feeling stays with you, even when you get home. Take advantage of being in your own space and in control of your own time. You deserve it.

Another handy tip

Beware of what some people are now calling ‘work creep’. Maximizing productivity and remaining focused is essential, but it’s necessary to set boundaries too. Moving your career into your home space can be an invasive presence in your everyday at-home life.

It’s easy to answer emails, pick up work calls and try to quickly finish drafting that last bit of a brief when your work is always right in front of you. That’s why you have to be strict with yourself by creating designated work hours and practise sticking to them. A healthy working schedule is a large part of maintaining a healthy mind and healthy relationships. 

WellBe’s word on the subject 

Now that you’ve got your understanding of office ergonomics down, it’s time to get your body and mind functioning at the same optimal level. That means taking a good look at your physical and mental health. At WellBe&Co we want you to have the most focused, motivated outlook possible when it comes to your health – which is why we want to share our 6 steps to establishing a realistic fitness plan. We also break down the key to mental health maintenance by exploring the brain-body connection in this informative blog. 

Not only that, but we also provide handy meal ideas, at-home exercises and daily “think well” tidbits of advice on our Instagram page. You’ll get a different one for each day of the lockdown to keep you on-track and excited about your fitness journey. 

If that’s not enough and you want to get even more involved, contact us here to start the process of developing your own personalised health and wellness program. We truly do want you to be “Happier. Healthier. Wellthier”.

Gemma Oberholzer

About Gemma Oberholzer

I guess you can say I'm a serial self-improver. Since I was a kid I can remember being weirdly thrilled at the idea of learning something new and figuring out how to use that new found knowledge to better myself. This perpetual learn-grow itch eventually lead me to the field of Health and Wellness and it's here I've been, fascinated for the last 8 years of my study and work life. From Human Life Scientist and learning the mechanics of physiology and intricacies of metabolic biochemistry, to Food and Nutrition Scientist where I deepened my understanding of diet and it's key role in human performance and health. Geared with this comprehensive education and better appreciation for human health, I've since been able to practically apply this in my career through the fields of research, product development, brand management and marketing. In 2018, I was finally able to bring all these learnings together and so my passion project, WellBe&Co, was born. WellBe&Co is a personal and corporate wellness company specializing in easy-to-implement, lifestyle-focused nutrition, training and health solutions. It's here that I've gained invaluable insights into the human-side of the health and wellness industry in a way that has enabled me to provide relevant content and value-adding services to individuals and companies alike and live out our mission to build communities that know better and grow together through better health.

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