Edmonton·Video

Working from home on a laptop? 5 ergonomic tips you should click on

How are your shoulders feeling? How about your back and wrists? If the pandemic means you're working from home on a laptop, these are the kinds of questions you need to be asking yourself according to one ergonomic expert.

Laptop shouldn’t be in your lap for long, look for ‘stable surfaces’ instead of the sofa

Many of us are attempting to juggle work at home in the wake of COVID-19 including the ergonomic use of our devices, like laptops. (Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock)

How are your shoulders feeling? How about your back and wrists?

If the pandemic means you're working from home on a laptop, these are the kinds of questions you need to be asking yourself, according to Edmonton-based occupational therapist and certified ergonomist Linda Miller.

In an interview with Russell Bowers on CBC Radio's Daybreak Alberta, the president of EWI Works says we're living in different times.

"A lot of us have worked at home before but it might be in the evening for an hour here or there, now we've been deployed with a laptop and a cellphone and you're here all day."  

We're sharing five tips that might help you when working from home. 0:58

Laptop not really meant for the lap 

Miller suggests using a stable surface instead of the sofa. Ideally, that means setting up on a flat, hard surface that's free of clutter. 

"I've heard from people, they're either sitting at a dining room table, or a kitchen island, others are even set up in a bedroom because they're trying to get privacy, with their spouse and kids home," she said.

When possible, use a chair with a backrest that supports the lower back. Miller says knees should be bent at 90-120 degrees with two to three inches of space behind your legs and the front edge of the seat. 

Occupational therapist and certified ergonomist Linda Miller offers suggestions for people working from home including a new free app at EWI Works. (Crediting REEM)

Feet should be supported either on the floor or on a footrest.

Arrange the keyboard and mouse so they're beside each other at the same height, and close to the front edge of the work surface. 

If you can elevate the monitor so the top of the screen is at eye level this will prevent next strain. Miller recommends maybe raising it with some books or a box.

Take a Break 

Petey the four-year-old cat is a welcome distraction for owner Jasmin Joe while she works from home. (Jasmin Joe)

Take a break every 30 minutes and a short walk around your work area every hour. 

"I think if you could set a timer on your phone or I even have people going back to old-style egg timers, so it dings, it kind of gets you building a new routine because we can get lost in an activity pretty fast," said Miller.

She points to the free online resources out there, including a new free app her company has just developed.

"Start with the free resources and see what you can solve on your own. There are lots of things you can do very simply."

How are your shoulders feeling? How about your back and wrists? If the pandemic means you're working from home on a laptop, these are the kinds of questions you need to be asking yourself, according to Linda Miller, an Alberta based Occupational Therapist, Certified Ergonomist and President of EWI Works. 13:15

About the Author

Adrienne Lamb is an award-winning journalist based in Edmonton. She's the host and producer of Our Edmonton featured weekly on CBC TV. Adrienne has spent the last couple of decades telling stories across Canada.

now