Working from home can be a real pain in the neck – literally.
People have converted spare rooms, dining room tables and bedrooms into makeshift offices during the pandemic. But few have had much guidance on making these new spaces ergonomically safe, says Kermit Davis, an expert in office ergonomics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
“You can use your laptop from home, but it is designed to be a short-term option,” he says. “It should be used for a few hours while travelling. It is not meant to be used for eight or nine hours each day.”
The reality of using a laptop for a full working day, multiple days a week, is that it starts to take a toll on your back, shoulders and neck.
The issue is that screens are smaller, so you often have to look downwards as they sit well below eye height.
There’s also a temptation to work from your bed and sofa – a survey by Nuffield Health found a quarter of Brits have taken up residence on their sofa with a laptop, and one in four are sitting in bed or the living room floor (17%) to work.
And this is wreaking havoc on posture. The same survey found seven in 10 Brits working from home are experiencing more aches in the back, neck, shoulders, and legs, more problems with eye strain, and more headaches than usual.
After analysing photos of work from home setups submitted by employees at the University of Cincinnati during the coronavirus pandemic, Davis identified some key issues that could be adversely affecting workers.
Many chairs were the wrong height: 41% were too low and 2% were too high. Support of the back of the chair wasn’t used by 69%...