Best Practices for At-Home Ergonomics

To view a PDF version of this information, please click HERE.

Many of us are suddenly working from home, in less than ideal circumstances. To avoid work becoming a (literal) pain in the neck, use these strategies to ensure your at-home-workstation is as ergonomically correct as possible.

Wherever you’re sitting, whether it’s an office chair or kitchen chair, make sure that:

  • You have adequate back support so the ears are in line with the shoulders and hips.
    • If not, try adjusting your chair (if possible) or adding a pillow to act as a lumbar support for your lower back.
  • Your shoulders are relaxed and level when keyboarding and using the mouse.
    • If not, raise/lower your chair or work surface height – try using books to prop up monitor screens or your laptop if you’re using an external keyboard. Consider using your ironing board as a height-adjustable desk!
  • Your hands are in line or slightly lower than your elbows.
    • If not, try folding a small towel to use as a wrist rest along the length of your keyboard.
  • Your arms are relaxed and your wrists are in a neutral/straight position (not up, down, or to one side).
    • If not, try the homemade wrist-rest as above.
    • Make sure your wrists are at the same level and as close to the keyboard as possible.
    • Adjust your chair height, if possible.
    • Align your keyboard, monitor, and chair in a straight line.
  • Your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees are at the same height as your hips.
    • If not, try raising your chair (if possible) or adding a footrest – use books or old binders.
  • You have adequate space beneath your work surface to move legs.
    • If not, remove any objects under your work space.
  • Your documents and equipment are positioned correctly.
    • Keep frequently used items at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions and avoid reaching across your body.
    • Position your computer screen with your eyes naturally hitting the top of the screen, and reduce glare and brightness by adjusting your blinds and overhead lights. Use a task lamp if available; shine it away from the monitor.

Extra tips:

  • If you’re working at home on a laptop, see if you can bring your external keyboard and mouse from your workplace, or even your monitor if allowed. This will give you more flexibility in your at-home work space.
  • If your workstation is not ideal, try to vary your tasks so you’re not in the same position and posture all day; take frequent mini-breaks and get up and move around! Try standing or pacing when taking phone calls.
  • Try to set up an area that is dedicated to work that you can leave at the end of the day.

OHC’s Ergonomist, Andrew Dolhy, gave a webinar presentation to Prairie members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Please visit the PSAC website to view the video and get access to further resources on the best at-home ergonomic practices

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