5 Easy Home Office Ideas For When You’re WFH

Doing home-office? Try these ergonomic fixes.


WFH, Healthy, Work
Wfh on a laptop

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Today, more than ever, working from home is here to stay. The global pandemic and the need to stay safe at home, encouraged many companies to embrace this work modality for good, and scores of workers worldwide became more skilled at managing their time, juggling work and family responsibilities, and upping their productivity when working remotely.

But home-office working brings some challenges, like the need to adopt good work practices, set aside attention and time to your significant other, and to design a proper workstation setup. Quick fixes can make all the difference when transforming an area of your home into your workspace. 

Over the last year, many people just used their dining tables and chairs, and made do in other ways without much knowledge on how to make these new spaces ergonomically safe. This is the finding of an assessment conducted by Kermit Davis, an expert in office ergonomics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, reveals.

Why is this so important? Because the way home offices are arranged impacts considerably on people's health. Furthermore, workplaces that are designed with ergonomic principles lead to better employee performance and better business results, the International Ergonomics Association, a global federation of ergonomics societies, points out. 

So let’s discover some easy fixes you can pursue at home to create an ergonomically-safe workspace.

The Chair

The ideal chair has some special features like adjustable height and armrests, five casters and a dynamic chair back for better support. But having one of these is not always possible at home.

Experts at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine suggest some potential hacks. First of all, use a pillow that elevates the seat height. Second, place a pillow or rolled up towel behind the back to provide lumbar and back support. Third, wrap the armrests when they are low and not adjustable. And last but not least, move the chair closer to the desk while keeping the back against the back of the seat. 

Ergonomic wfh chair

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The Laptop

Another thing to take into account is the use of a laptop at home. Placing the monitor too low in relation to our eyes for an extended period is a common mistake, But this can lead to poor posture, especially in the back and neck, the assessment details. 

Davis proposes some easy fixes for this. When using the laptop on your lap, place a lap desk or a pillow under it to raise the monitor.  And when using the laptop on a desk, use an external keyboard and mouse, and raise the monitor by placing books or a box under the laptop.

It is a good idea to use an external monitor when possible. This should be centered and with the top at eye level. Also, if you need to use more than one monitor, keep the primary one in front of you and the rest to the sides.

Laptop well positioned on desk

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The Desk

Your choice of desk and how you set it up in terms of positioning your work tools and objects on it, can also have a great impact on comfort and productivity. So Davis came up with some ideas to anticipate future concerns. These include, first of all,  trying to avoid using the couch, the bed or the dining table as a work surface, since this can lead to poor posture and discomfort.

If getting an appropriate chair is not possible, you can try switching between a sitting workstation and a standing workstation. For this you can use an ironing board, the kitchen counter, or a large box on a table under the laptop, this expert suggests.

Remember that the monitor should be placed at eye height, directly in front of you. Also, the keyboard needs to be at a height where forearms are parallel to the ground, with elbows at an angle of around 90 degrees.

Home office desk

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Glare or harsh reflection on the screen produced by sunlight exposure should be considered as well, since it contributes to eye strain, a condition many can relate to. To minimize this, the report following the assessment recommends orienting the workstation in a way that ensures that the window always stays behind the monitor.

Don’t overlook the benefits of natural light from a window of skylight, however. Sunlight can produce warm lighting that improves the work environment and lifts your mood.

Task lighting that zooms in on computer work, paperwork and other focus-intensive tasks is always a good idea. Adjustable desk lamps shine light exactly where you need it. If your office has multiple workstations such as a desk for computer work, and a table for reviewing images and layouts, it’s worth setting up dedicated task lighting for each workstation.

Man working in his home office after hours

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Sitting for long periods of time has been linked to several health concerns that include obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels, according to mayoclinic.org.

Experts in office ergonomics recommend changing posture around every 30 minutes throughout the day. You can either switch between a sitting and a standing workstation, incorporate healthy stretches into your day, or stand up and walk for around for two minutes. It’s up to you and there is no better excuse for taking a break!  

The assessment from Davis offers some straightforward conclusions. It points out the increasing popularity of working remotely due to its benefits for both workers and employers. It is not only a safer option in the current period, but also implies less commuting, a better work-life balance, and reduced office costs, among others things

But that’s not all. Experts highlight how “the new normal'' requires the creation of safe home offices for millions of workers. This could be achieved through the adoption of ergonomic principles, which seem to be the key for the home office modality to succeed in the long term.