Is your home office more equipped for a “sprint” than a “marathon”? If you’ve never done more than dash off a quick email at home, you might not be setup for more intensive work. Before you start getting into the thick of things, take some time to figure out how you can make your office a little more comfortable.
Head: Improving Your Monitor Layout
First: Ergonomically, your eyes should line up with the top of your monitor(s). If your current alignment is off, you can use desk risers and monitor stands to adjust the height of your monitors. (Or, you know, a pile of books. Whatever’s available.)
Second: Consider purchasing two or even three monitors. The more monitors you have, the easier it is to multi-task. Most people don’t even realize how useful two monitors really are until they’re using them!
Today, there are wide screen monitors, and monitors that are meant to be viewed portrait-style rather than landscape. Depending on the type of work you do, you might want to invest in a different monitor format. Work on a very large desktop? A widescreen monitor might be best. Use a lot of documents? A portrait-style monitor may be better.
Hands: Get the Right Keyboard and Mouse
Are you using a laptop? You might want to consider investing in a full-size keyboard and a mouse. Using a trackpad and a small keyboard is fine when you’re on-the-go, but if you’re going to be working for longer periods, it could get taxing.
There are keyboards that are intentionally designed to be more ergonomically-friendly, such as split keyboards—but they take a little practice to get used to. There are also trackball mice, for those who experience wrist pain when using a traditional mouse.
Don’t forget a wrist pad. Wrist pads help keep your hands and forearms straight when you type. If you’re typing while holding your hands at an angle, you’re more likely to hurt yourself.
Lower Back: Get a Better Chair
Ever wonder why businesses invest thousands of dollars in those dull, mesh chairs? It’s because they don’t want their employees to have constant back problems. Investing in a good computer chair is one of the first things you should do when setting up a home office. A dining room chair just isn’t going to cut it.
If you have lower back problems already, consider the addition of a lower back pillow. It’ll alleviate some of the pressure on your back, while also helping your posture.
But one of the best things about working from home is that you can get up and walk around whenever you need to. Getting up and walking around once an hour can tremendously reduce your chances of long-term injury and improves your overall health.
Finally, Feet: Are You Properly Aligned?
Your feet should be flat on the ground when you’re sitting in front of your desk. Your thighs and shins should be at a right angle. For shorter people, this may seem impossible! The trick? Investing in a stool. A small stool under your desk will keep your legs properly aligned, which reduces stress on your joints.
What if you’re tall? If you find that your feet stick out from under you, you should be lifting both your chair and your desk. Some desks even let you stand while you type, which can be great for those who don’t want to be too sedentary.
No one expects to get injured in their home office. But if you don’t address your comfort issues, you could experience anything from carpal tunnel to lower back pain. The plus? Once you’ve improved the comfort of your home office, you’ll experience a better work flow.