Working from home through the Coronavirus alert – what are the ergonomics?

If you have to work from home with your laptop for an extended period you are likely to run into ergonomic issues that put you at risk of developing repetitive strain injury (RSI aka WRULD). Our website has advice and suggested tools that may help you.

As Covid-19 contingency plans are put in place by governments around the World, many businesses are asking their employees to work from home to limit the spread of coronavirus. Multi-national companies are very much in the lead with their business continuity planning. They might have already given consideration to the ergonomics of working from home. Smaller businesses are unlikely to have spent much time on this subject.

Things to consider when working from home

Time flies at a computer:-

  • Ideally you should follow a good computer posture but if you haven’t got the right equipment at home you need to find a means of limiting your exposure using timers that can give you an alarm to get up and do something different with your neck and arms for a while (eg. smart phones, watches, kitchen appliances).
  • Aim for no more than 50 minutes at the laptop before having a 10 minute break with a completely different posture.
  • Your break can still be working if you need to – eg. call your workmates to deal with work issues by using a speakerphone or headset (you don’t want to be holding your phone up to your ear as that swaps one risky fixed posture for another risky fixed posture).

Look at your working position:-

  • Your elbows should be touching or just about your side. If not you will be placing undue strain on your muscles between you neck and wrist and risks shoulder, elbow and neck pain problems.
  • Your hand should be flat-ish to the keyboard. If it is bent upwards, that places undue strain on your wrists which puts you at risk of carpal tunnel problems.
  • Is your neck tipping back significantly or are you hunching over?
  • You will be making compromises at home but the closer you can make your scenario similar to our good computer posture recommendation the better you will be.

Are there tools that would benefit you?

  • An ergonomic computer chair with a desk and separate monitor that’s great; you’re most of the way there!
  • If you are using a dining chair and table the best thing to do is to get a separate keyboard and mouse (see below) and put the laptop on some books to raise the screen.
  • We advise people to use compact keyboards which are inexpensive; their benefit comes from not pushing the mouse (for right-handed users) far to the right and thus having awful arm ergonomics.
  • Truly ergonomic mice are vertical and look a bit odd. The DXT mice in our opinion they are worth their weight in gold and we can’t recommend them enough. They don’t come cheap!

Hopefully these points will help keep you safe from bad ergonomics when working from home.

Where the virus is concerned, stay safe and good luck!