Ergonomically Working from Home

Ergonomically Working from Home

Ergonomically Working from Home

As many Rowan University employees are now staying away from their workplaces due to the Coronavirus, many are working remotely or at home for the first time. So grab your laptop and get to work right?  Not so fast. Unless you regularly work from home, chances are you aren’t prepared.

To help prepare employees, Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) would like to pass along some ergonomic tips you can use as you transition from your office workstation to your home office/telework workstation.

Laptops & Workstations:

Sure, you can do everything from your laptop while sitting on favorite sofa or chair. Do this for a day or two and you’ll probably be fine, but try it for several days or for weeks and you might make yourself uncomfortable or end up putting yourself at risk. To help eliminate or reduce risk here are some quick ergonomic (ergo) tips to help you work with your laptop better and help you set up your workstation or work area:

  • If you have a desk at home, use your desk! If a desk is not available, try selecting a work surface that resembles a desk top or is at a similar height as your desk (countertops, islands, couches/sofa, your favorite chair are often not recommended).
  • Make sure your workstation has ample leg room.
  • Make sure your workstation or work area has good lighting.
  • If you are using your laptop more than a few hours/days, try using an external keyboard and mouse. This will allow you to place your laptop at a better viewing height and give you often a better mouse & keyboard.

 

Check out the RIGHTS AND WRONGS of keyboard set up and wrist positioning.

REMEMBER: Adjusting your seat, table or keyboard height can help you keep your wrists neutral and keep hands in the right position.

  • If your computer has touch screen capability – DO NOT USE IT – this technology can sometimes lead to awkward hand and wrist postures that can lead to issues later on if it is used for extended periods.
  
  • Your shoulders should be relaxed. Keep your upper arms and forearms at about a 90 degree angle. Keep your forearms, wrists and hands in a straight line as much as possible. Keep elbows close to body. See example photos on the next page.
  • Arrange frequently used materials and supplies within a comfortable reaching distance.

 

 

 

  • If possible, select a distraction free or distraction limited area or workspace. This will help you concentrate!

Monitors/Laptop Screens:

  • Your monitor should be directly in front of you; don’t place it to the right or left on your desk as this will cause you to twist to see the screen and can cause discomfort.
  • Position your monitor or laptop screen at a 90 degree angle from your light source/window to minimize glare. Closing your window shades or blinds can also help limit or reduce glare.
  • Position your screen at a height so your eyes are looking at the top 1/3 of the screen. Use props (box, books, paper etc.) to raise laptop if you can’t adjust your monitor screen or laptop screen to the proper height. Laptop users tend to position their screen to low which leads to an awkward neck position.
  • Adjust the contrast, brightness and color of your monitor to a comfortable level.
  • If your computer or laptop font or icon sizes are too small for your viewing screen, try adjusting the settings on your computer. Your eyes will thank you!

Chair:

  • Use an adjustable chair if possible. If not available, choose a chair that allows working at a neutral position.
  • Avoid chairs that have sharp edges along the front. These edges can cause compression in your legs.
  • Select a chair with lumbar support. If this is not possible, you can roll up a towel and place it at your lower back to help promote a neutral back posture.
  • Keep your chair height in mind as well; you should be able to maintain solid foot support on the floor with your thighs parallel with the floor (legs at a 90 degree angle).
  • If you notice your feet are dangling or not quite flat on the floor use a book, box or other object that will provide the necessary support. Your back will thank you at the end of the day or week.

 

Other things to think about:

  • Stay hydrated – drink lots of water throughout the day.
  • Minimize snacking – do not have snacks at your work station – leave your food in the kitchen. If you crave a snack, get up and walk to and from your snack.
  • Reduce eye strain, look away from screen at least every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds and look at something at least 20 feet away.
  • Try switching between sitting and standing throughout the day.
  • Every hour get up and walk around the house and stretch your legs (drinking lots of water will help with this J!!!).
  • Some recommended mini stretches can be found at: https://ergo-plus.com/infographic-office-stretches-prevent-reduce-desk-life-pain/

 

Notes on accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”)

If you are teleworking, but have been previously provided with an equipment-based accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), you should take all reasonable steps to try and reasonably duplicate the equipment accommodation.  This may necessitate a contact with your healthcare provider certifying to the original accommodation as to what would properly suffice in-home with respect to the original accommodation.  For example, if you have been provided a convertible stand-desk (a “vari-desk”) which permits you to both optionally sit or stand while utilizing your computer equipment, you should look to find a comparable physical situation in your telework location that would afford you the same type of flexibility.

In any event, for telework purposes, if you have already been provided with equipment for an approved accommodation and you find that you are unable to reasonably replicate the accommodation at your telework locale, you may want to reach out the Office of Employee Equity (OEE@rowan.edu), and that office may be able to further assist you.

Notes on HR & IRT approvals:

  • To view Rowan University Human Resource’s (HR) Telework Policy go to: https://sites.rowan.edu/hr/ and look for Telework & Emergency Preparedness 3/10/20 forms/documents.
  • To view Rowan University Information Resources Technology’s (IRT) Guidelines on “Working, Teaching & Learning Remotely” go to: https://irt.rowan.edu/remote/index.html

If you have any questions on this document or contents contact EHS at EHS@Rowan.edu or call us at: 856.256.51905.

Thank you!