Ergonomics Mistakes to avoid while Working from Home – STOP doing this!

Ergonomics Mistakes to avoid while Working from Home – STOP doing this!

Looking at the current number of covid community cases in Singapore, it looks like working from home (WFH) will be the default for at least a few more months. Some of us do not have the proper set-up at home, compared to our work office ergonomics. Many of us spend our working hours crouched on our bed/sofa or slouched at the dining table. To make matters worse, our working hours are even longer now. Therefore, it’s important that we start looking at solutions to improve our posture. After all, preventing is better than cure.

The ideal set-up would be to have an adjustable standing desk so that we can alternate between standing and sitting. But what if we don’t have an adjustable table?

Fault #1 – Sitting on the sofa with the laptop on the legs

If this is you, please keep reading. Our sofa is made for relaxation/leisure, and therefore are usually softer than office chairs. They are not able to properly support the spine. So if we are sitting for long hours crouched on the sofa, it puts a lot of pressure on the lower back (lumbar region) and causes compression on our intervertebral discs. In mild cases, we will have aches in our lower back and neck. In severe cases, prolonged compression may also cause intervertebral disc compression, leading to chronic back pain. Besides, when we are crouched, we start to develop a “turtle” neck, which strains our upper shoulders and neck. Similarly, in severe cases, it may compress out intervertebral discs.

Tips to improve

We recommend sitting on a chair with more support so that the lower back is better supported. Secondly, instead of putting the laptop on your legs, try using a foldable laptop stand so that your eyes are more leveled with the laptop screen. Take frequent breaks at least once every 45mins. Stand up and walk around for a minute to stretch out your legs. Bonus point: it helps to improve your concentration too!

Fault #2 – Slouched on a dining table

This is one of the most common position for most people. Our dining table now doubles as our workstation and also where we have our meals. However, our dining tables are usually too low, therefore causing us to slouch, which will also strain our eyes and neck. Or, some may even put legs on table when no one is watching you work at home! Slowly, we develop a hunched posture and start having aches and pain over the midback region. Some may even develop pain in the wrist (a.k.a. carpal tunnel syndrome). Besides, we may start to lean on our sides because of the aches and pain, which can further contribute to our pain.

Tips to Improve

As advised above, take frequent breaks in between meetings and calls. You may consider getting a laptop stand and a separate keyboard. Adjust your laptop stand so that your eyes are level with the screen. The separate keyboard gives you more comfort especially when you need to type for long hours. Be aware of the lighting as well, as a dim workstation will strain your eyes, causing you to want to sit closer to the screen. Lastly, get a chair with suitable height – your feet should be on the floor, knees, hips and elbows should be 90’ bent, and rest your back on the backrest

In conclusion, our therapist suggest that you set an alarm to stand up every 45mins. You may also walk around (if possible) while you are on a call. Always be aware of your posture and avoid slouching, crouching or leaning from side to side. If we are able to follow these simple tips, working from home can actually be enjoyable. If you have any aches that you are concerned with, feel free to contact us! Our therapists are always ready to help reduce your pain and help you maintain better posture. Stay safe and take care!