Not ideal, but better: 5 ways to improve your work-home environment

Improving your home-work environment. Image courtesy of the Australian Chiropractors Association
SHARE:
Working from home brings with it many complications, and supporting your back is one you may have not considered. Aaron Smith reports.

Long days at a home desk can be a real pain – literally.

Warren Smith, who is working from home as a radio engineer during the Covid-19 lockdown, says his work-from-home environment is far from ideal.

“I’ve been noticing my lower back aching after long days at work. I’m not sure if it’s the way I’m sitting or something else entirely.”

The average Australian spends eight to 10 hours sitting every day – and even more under current circumstances, most in conditions that are not ideal.

Dr Narrelle Roberts. Picture supplied.

Dr Narrelle Roberts, a chiropractor in Carrum, says that it’s important to remember that our bodies were never built to be spending so much time working from home.

“There’s just less interruptions and more people are sitting for longer periods of time in comparison to when they’re normally in their office. The time it takes to travel to work really makes a difference,” she says.

Here are her five tips on what we should change about our workspaces while in lockdown.

1. Do not work on a laptop

“Laptops were not designed to be good for your posture, they were designed to cart your work around,” she says.

“The concept of having your screen and keyboard attached to each other and putting that on your lap is terrible for your spine.”

If you do need to use one, set it up just below eye height, and use it only as a screen. It’s also important that you face the screen straight-on, not to one side or the other.

2. Have a timer to tell you to get up and move every 40 minutes

“Do something that gets you up and out of that position. If you’re there for long enough, the chair won’t help you, you need to be moving regardless,” she says.

3. Try not to do too much work later in the day

“By the late afternoon you are fatigued, you’re not going to be able to sit there as efficiently as you are first thing in the morning,” Dr Roberts says.

4. Have your chair set up correctly

“A straight back hard chair is best,” she says.

“It makes you sit with your back upright and your feet flat to the ground. You don’t want your legs to be at an angle less than 45 degrees.”

If you have short legs, you may want to consider placing a box under your feet.

5. Do not work in places other than your home office

Avoid sitting at dining tables or on the couch, unless these spaces are set up properly for your body.

“Working in bed – as a lot of students are – is about as imperfect as it can get,” she says.