Much of the US workforce has moved to working at home.  We thought this might be for a brief period, but it has stretched on into Fall, and in many cases, what looks like 2021 Winter.  Nontraditional office and clinic jobs have found spaces in homes, even some of our children are participating in virtual classrooms, going to school from the comforts of their own homes.  We have had great new advancements for therapy services, telehealth for example allows staff to work remotely.  More “desk time” brings an opportunity to review some basics in ergonomics and activity levels.

Being cooped up at a home office gives you an opportunity to look back at basics.  It is a great idea to structure your day to mimic more of a pre-pandemic normal day.   Most of our days start with some type of activity before you leave the house, you walk around, usually have to drive to work, walk into an office or clinic, sometimes stairs are involved…the point is there is some type of activity involved.  This applies to children no longer riding the school bus as well. 

Do not be tempted to crawl from bed to computer. Create ways for normal daily movement like walking to from parking lot, school bus, and bathroom breaks.  Get innovative and think of ways to get moving at home for you and your kids.  Do not be stagnant in front of a screen all day.

Create safe spaces for you and kids working from home; do not let the temptation to spread out on the couch propping laptop on knees take over.  It is vital to make sure that any home office setup is ergonomically sound ensuring proper body positioning and mechanics.  Also consider comfort and safety while performing work tasks.  By addressing this situation early, you are reducing the risk of injury or aggravating a pre-exiting condition.

Prevent back and neck issues. Bending over computer screen and slouching overtime may overstretch muscles in back and shorten muscles in chest.  This may lead to imbalance and fatigue and could result in potential injury in due course.

Most all displaced employees needed to create an office space in their home.  Ideal posture while sitting would place earlobes over shoulders and shoulders over hips while sitting.  When standing, consider knees and ankles in that line as well.  Ideally, you should be able to drop a plumb line from head to toe which should line up all those anatomical markers.

While sitting in a chair at a keyboard, your elbows should be slightly higher than the keyboard. If you do not have an adjustable chair, use pillows to raise your seat.  Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor. If you are creating an ergonomically correct workspace for your child who is in a virtual classroom, make sure their feet are on the floor, if not find some solid items to create a platform allowing feet to rest with knees and hips at 90 degrees.

Not only the physical environment needs to be addressed, businesses need to review current policies and ensure they have appropriate policies in place for the telecommuting staff.   Establish a set of guidelines outlining the rules about how employees can work remotely, instead of physically coming into the office.

Don’t forget to get your breaks!!  If listening to a webinar, take advantage and stand.  Maybe use a pedometer to get an idea of how moving to home environment has changed your activity level. Remember, the goal is to structure your day to mimic your pre-pandemic activity level.