Saskatchewan

Is your laptop the right height? How to work from home without getting stiff and sore

Ian Lewis is an occupational therapist who has some ideas on how to make your home office more ergonomic.

Ian Lewis is an occupational therapist who has some tips and tricks

How to ergonomically work from home

CBC News Saskatchewan

11 months ago
0:49
Here are a few tips from an occupational therapist on how you can ergonomically work from home. 0:49

As thousands of people work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many are turning to tables and kitchen islands as desks.

An occupational therapist is offering advice on how to make your home workspace — whatever it looks like — easier on your back, shoulders and wrists.

"You really want to settle into someplace that's going to be really good for your body," Ian Lewis, who focuses on workplace solutions and mental health, said. 

Many people who don't have a desk go to the kitchen table. Lewis cautions that may be too tall. Instead, a person should look for something that's the average desk height 28.75 to 30 inches.

For a chair, Lewis said it's important to find one that doesn't recline and instead keeps you upright — just like at the office. 

"You want to support your back really well, so you want to start with your feet on the floor," he said. 

If your feet don't reach the floor, he recommends using a telephone book or stack of paper as a footrest. 

Ian Lewis is an occupational therapist who has some tips on how to make your home office more ergonomic. (Submitted by Ian Lewis)

If you need more back support, Lewis suggests putting a pillow on the small of your back. 

"When you're sitting there, you want to think, can I sit with my shoulders relaxed and still reach my keyboard," Lewis said. "So if you're still reaching out for your kitchen table you might need to sit on a pillow to bring yourself up a little bit higher."

If someone is used to a standing desk, Lewis suggests heading to the kitchen. He said standing desks are usually about 40 inches tall and kitchen countertops are usually between 30 to 36 inches. 

Ian Lewis suggests having your feet flat on the ground and using a pillow at your back if you need more support. (Submitted by Ian Lewis)

Once you have picked your spot, Lewis suggests using an external keyboard at elbow height and finding a way to raise the monitor to eye level.

You don't want to be hunched over, Lewis said.

"Over 60 per cent of office workers have some sort of back, neck or shoulder pain. So all of us need to get up and move and so we encourage people to get up and move two or three times an hour," Lewis said.

Try to separate work life and home life: Lewis

Keeping your work and home life separate is also healthy, Lewis said. Not everyone has the space to separate the two, but some people do.

"Creating that space away from the hustle and bustle of your home life can be really helpful because then you can arrive at work in the morning — close the door on work at the end of the day and recreate some of those regular routines," he said.

For a person's mental health, Lewis said it's important to interact with people in more personal ways than sending emails back and forth.

"Put some personal remarks in those emails, open up some chats, do some video chats, make the phone call — most of all to recreate those social routines that we have with work."

About the Author

Heidi Atter

AP/Journalist

Heidi Atter is a journalist working in Regina. She started with CBC Saskatchewan after a successful internship and has a passion for character-driven stories. Heidi has worked as a reporter, web writer, associate producer and show director so far, and has worked in Edmonton, at the Wainwright military base, and in Adazi, Latvia. Story ideas? Email heidi.atter@cbc.ca.

With files from The Afternoon Edition

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