By Sarah Balke
We probably all know someone who had been comfortably working in an office for years and then asked to transition to work from home, overnight. For some, the transition was simple; they may have been partially telecommuting already. For others, the transition involves kids running in and out of their workspace, pets that seem to need additional lap time, or balancing bandwidth resources with multiple people working/learning in the same household.
If this is your situation, you may feel as though you have found your new groove. However, after a few weeks of telecommuting, it is very important to evaluate how your body feels at the end of the workday. Are you experiencing headaches, back or leg pain, neck pain, or tingling in your legs or feet? When you move from an ergonomic workstation to a makeshift office, which might consist of a kitchen table and chair, your body will begin to make some - not so pleasant - adjustments to its new posture.
Here are a few tips to help you give your temporary space a lift and your body some much-needed support!
- Make sure your monitor is at eye level so you are not sitting hunched over looking at your screen. Find a way to elevate your monitor or laptop. It might mean investing in an external keyboard and mouse. To elevate your monitor, Amazon has plenty of options for less than $30; or, you can use something as simple as books, a box, or even an old milk crate. Just make sure it is sturdy enough to hold your computer, you certainly don’t want that taking a tumble.
- Give your back and bum a little extra cushion. Many office chairs are designed to provide support for your lower back and provide cushion for your backside. The back cushion does more than provide comfort; it also helps maintain the curve in the lower back and encourages proper posture. The extra seat cushion helps keep your hips positioned slightly higher than your knees and helps prevent compressing the sciatic nerve, which can lead to tingling or pain in your legs and feet. Forget about bungee cords and pillows, consider adding some proper support to your chair with a lumbar cushion, and use a posture wedge for extra padding and lift.
- If you’ve been experiencing an increase in headaches over the last several weeks, take a closer look at how much time you’ve spent using your phone or tablet. Consider investing in a good set of headphones to avoid holding your phone with your shoulder during those long conference calls. If you find yourself spending hours looking down at your screen, your headaches and neck pain could be attributed, in part, to Tech Neck (the straightening of the neck from staring down at your screen). To help combat this issue, consider using a device for a few minutes each day to help restore the natural curve of your neck, such as the Apex Premium or Apex Premium with Heat.
- Look for an adjustable workstation that allows you to stand up for part of your workday or better yet, get up and move around! Take a break at least once an hour to walk around or stretch. If it helps, set an hourly alarm as a reminder. No matter how ergonomic your workstation is, stretching your body is the only thing that can combat the health issues that arise from prolonged sitting.
Working from home can definitely present some challenges, especially when you were not expecting the move. Having a space that supports your body, and making time to move a little more each day, will go a long way in making you feel better!