Working from Home – Applying Ergonomics Principles
Many people are now working at home either full time or as part of a hybrid working plan.
It is an opportune time to review some key ergonomics principles to help ensure that you can work from home in a safe
and productive manner and do not incur a sore neck or back due poor working conditions. You do not want to have to
visit a doctor for a musculoskeletal disorder that could have been prevented by implementing the following workstation
set up guidelines.
1. Select an appropriate work location
If you don’t have a dedicated home office, how do you pick the best working spot? Consider picking a spot with a table
or work surface that is 27-29” high. Any higher, and you may find an increase in shoulder and neck discomfort that
comes from working on a work surface that is too high.
2. Select the best chair available
In an ideal world, this means a fully adjustable office chair that you can adjust to your stature and that allows you to
vary your posture during the day. If you don’t own an adjustable office chair, take stock of your kitchen, dining room,
and other chairs and pick a chair that provides back support, allowing you to sit upright (hip to back angle of 90-110
degrees) with your upper body weight supported on the backrest. If your chairs have slightly different seat heights, pick
the chair that, when you sit on it, places your seated elbow height as close to level with your work surface height as
possible. If your work surface remains slightly higher than your seated elbow height, consider tilting your keyboard
slightly (using the feet on the back of the keyboard) to promote straighter wrist posture. Keep in mind, that the less
“ideal” your seating, the more often you need to get up and move around.
3. Find a footrest (if needed)
Once you are seated, take a look at your thighs. They should be parallel with the floor, with your feet firmly planted. If
you are of average stature or shorter, there is a good chance that you would benefit from use of a footrest. A stack of
legal -sized copy paper, or a large flat book are options you can use while working at home if you do not have a footrest.
4. Use external devices with Laptops
The CSA Z412-17 Office Ergonomics Application Standard for Workplace Ergonomics states that laptops should not be
used for prolonged computer entry, unless they are docked or connected to external input devices. Working directly off
your laptop results in a monitor height that is too low and increased strain on the neck. The only exception to this is for
bifocal lens wearers who view the screen through the bottom portion of their lenses and find a low monitor much easier
to see. For those who do not wear glasses, or whose lenses are a single prescription, raise your laptop on a stack of
books so the top of the screen is close to being level with your eye height and plug in an external mouse and keyboard.