Before working from home became normal for many of us, the few of us who did have mostly or fully work from home type jobs tended to be well set up for them. During the pandemic, many of us were forced to change to work from home with little or no preparation – and now our posture is paying for it!
Work from home spaces
Before the pandemic work from home was a deliberate choice – if you wanted to work from home you more likely than not ran your own business or had gone into a field which was especially well suited to this way of work. Importantly, work from home was a conscious choice – and one which most people were well set up for. Many work from home individuals were really more like “work from my home office” people – with a designated work space properly kitted out to provide a healthy, comfortable and well-organised (well, maybe not that last one) workspace.
While the switch to work from home during the pandemic actually tuned out to be a welcome one which many of us have decided to stick with (at least part of the time) it was an overnight transition which took place with little to no planning – before we knew it we were working from bean bags, sofas and fold out chairs, squeezed into all sorts of odd corners trying to work out what zoom was all about. In the blink of an eye, office furniture ergonomic cushions and computer peripherals became as rare as toilet paper, and that’s the way it stayed for a while!
For those who have stayed working from home, however, it’s important now to recognise that if work from home is part of your long-term plan your work from home environment also needs to be!
Work from home and posture
One big issue which we often just didn’t mention at the time (fair enough, there were other issues going on!) was posture. For decades offices had been implementing policies denied to reduce the incidence of back and neck related issues associated with working in an office environment – then, overnight, we pretty much trashed all of this!
Poor posture is, without doubt, the biggest source of painful complaints that we see here at the clinic – and if you’re still working from home in an environment which isn’t designed for it it’s highly likely you’re eventually going to become one of those people. What can you do though, if you don’t happen to have a dedicated work from home space? There are some simple changes you can make which will help a great deal – and these days, the things you need are probably even in stock!
Top 5 changes for better work from home posture
So without further ado, hers 5 changes you can make to significantly improve your posture:
Get a keyboard and mouse: Most of us today are using laptops are our primary work systems – there’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but the most Significant postural issues will, without a doubt come from hunching over a laptop. Getting a keyboard and a mouse is an inexpensive way to allow you to position the screen of your machine at a height which permits your posture to be more natural. Another option would be to get an external monitor for your laptop – but this is usually much more expensive than a keyboard and mouse.
Get a laptop stand: If you are working on a table which wasn’t designed for office use, it’s probably all on a single level – and if you’re sitting on a non-adjustable chair, it’s also at a fixed height. This makes it pretty much impossible to get your laptop screen to the right height for your natural eye line, which leads to hunching. A laptop stand is a very cheap way to add flexibility to this arrangement and can make a huge difference in the long run.
Get an ergonomic cushion: Office chairs, in case you never noticed – usually now come with an ergonomic seat. That’s not just a design feature, it actually helps to keep the spine and hips in alignment which has a direct impact on issues such as low back pain. If you’re not using an office chair, grab yourself a cushion which does the same job. Again they’re cheap and remarkably effective!
Move around every half an hour: This is by far one of our most repeated tips for all kinds of issues, just breaking away from an unhealthy posture even for a few minutes can help the body to relax and reduce tension significantly. Even better add a 2-3 minute stretching routine to loosen up those tense muscles. Not sure how to do this? Just as on your next visit!
Avoid comfy chairs: Yes, for many of us the vision of a “good” work from home reality is one where we work from our favourite armchair or sofa – and while a bit of this can be fine, chairs which are designed to be especially comfortable tend not to be optimised for posture. They’re made primarily for lounging or lying down which may actually make it even harder to maintain a healthy posture while sitting in one.