Tips for Healthy Teleworking

The associated image is not a good example of a healthy teleworking set-up. In this article you will discover why.

Do you work from home more often now?

Not everyone has a fully equipped desk at home. Maybe you have turned your kitchen table into a work-from-home desk. We are creative and improvise so that we work well and efficiently from home.

Even when working from home, it is important to consider a healthy work posture. By creating a healthy workplace you can avoid muscle and joint complaints. A few simple tips will go a long way.

  • Chair with lower back support
  • Table at elbow height
  • Screen, keyboard and mouse
  • Still stiff muscles?

Choose a room with sufficient lighting and depth of field.

  • Natural light comes preferably from the side.
  • It is less tiring on the eyes if you have a depth view of at least 2 metres. Are you looking at the wall? Preferably turn your table/desk perpendicular to the wall so that you can see into the room.

Chair with low back support

  • Office chair: adjust your office chair so that it supports your lower back. An office chair usually has a convex shape at the bottom, which should fit the lower back.
  • If your office chair can be adjusted further, refer to the user manual (you can look it up online) for the correct instructions.
  • Simple (kitchen) chair: place a cushion in the hollow of the lower back so that the natural curve of the back is well supported.
  • Regularly alternate seated work with movement to prevent muscle fatigue and stiffness in the joints.

Table at elbow height

  • When you bend your elbows at an angle of 90°, your forearms should ideally be level with the table top.
  • Are you tall? Then an average table is often too low. You can solve this by placing (wooden) blocks under the table so that you can sit up straight while working.
  • Are you short? Then an average table is often too high. Place a support under your feet while working. This could be a block of printing paper or a sturdy shoe box. If your seat is too low and the chair is not adjustable in height, place an extra cushion on the seat of the chair.
  • Alternate sitting work with standing or walking work:
    • Working in a standing position: place the computer on a higher surface. Ideally, the height should be equal to the height of your forearms when you bend your elbows at a 90° angle while standing. Possible examples: a medium-high cupboard, a kitchen counter, etc. If the height is too low, you can place books under the computer, keyboard and mouse. Can't find a suitable place and do you still want to work standing up as a change? Place a sturdy cardboard box or curver box on the work surface and create the right height for working standing up.
    • Tip: a Skype meeting or video consultation can just as well be done in a standing position. Your body will be happy to be able to assume a different position.
    • Working while walking: a telephone conversation is the ideal moment to stand up and move/ walk back and forth.

Screen, keyboard and mouse

  • Sit close to your desk, stretching your arm forward. When your fingers touch the screen, the screen is at the right distance.
    • Large screen: If you have a large screen, preferably use it when working all day.
    • Laptop: If you have a laptop holder, you should preferably use it. If you do not have a laptop holder, place your laptop on a stack of books. In both cases, use an external keyboard and mouse.
  • Screen height:
    • Large screen: place the top edge of the screen at eye level.
    • Laptop: Place the top edge of the screen just below eye level.
    • If you wear bifocal or progressive glasses, you should adjust your screen height to fit your viewing area. This may mean that you have to lower your screen.
  • Keyboard and mouse: Use an external keyboard and mouse. Place the keyboard and mouse so that you can work on them with your upper arms parallel to your torso.

Still stiff muscles?

It is possible that you have been sitting in the same position for too long and have not had enough variety of movement. It is advisable to change your posture/movement every half hour: stand up straight, walk around for a while and/or do some simple exercises.

The following simple movements can be used as an alternative to sitting in the same position for a long time. Repeat each movement 5 to 10 times

  • Stand up straight and stand on your toes and heels one after the other. In this way you stimulate the circulation in the legs.
  • Back stretching: place the hands on the back of the buttocks and stretch the back.
  • Shoulder movement: Stand up straight, place your arms stretched out beside your body and move them sideways up to your ears. Then do the same, but forwards.
  • Loosen up the upper back and shoulder neck line: place your arms stretched out in front of you at shoulder height. Alternately make one arm longer than the other. Then do the same exercise, but now with the arms pointing downwards from the shoulders at an angle of 45°.

Source: COVID-19 Ergonomics at telework - About UZ Leuven

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