With the unforeseeable spread of the coronavirus still happening worldwide, people are forced to continue staying at home and shifting their work online, if possible. Working from home often requires you to sit, type, and stare at the desktop for an extended period of time.
Though it may not be obvious, these ordinary tasks may cause serious health issues if not addressed properly. Luckily, the study of ergonomics can guide us in resolving this problem and optimize our work experience.
Working from home allows you to arrange your own office in any way you see fit. Usually, people would have the conventional set-up of a chair, a table, and a PC in front of them. However, most people do not realize that poor ergonomics can lead to serious health issues.
The most common risk factor for poor ergonomics is Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs). For example, a bad desk setup can contribute to a poor posture and can lead to serious physical injuries. In fact, studies show that “the stress from poor posture can lead to back pain by causing problems with your muscles, discs, and joints.” Considering that most employees typically render eight to nine hours of work per day, proper ergonomics can instill a safe and healthy environment that can help you be more productive and efficient at work.
According to ergonomic expert Jon Cinkay, adjusting your chair is the first step. This should be tailored fit according to your height and your elbows should be bent 90 degrees, resting on the table. Make sure your feet are touching the floor and the monitor of your screen is arms length apart. In order to avoid hunching your back, the monitor should be eye level.
Although we do our best to maximize our time in work, we must always take occasional breaks to avoid any further damage in our physical and mental health. One example of active rest that you can do is stretching. A WELCOA report titled “Benefits of Work Smart Stretching for the Workplace” states that stretching improves work productivity, reduces stress, increases your energy level, and reduces the risk for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDS).
If you want to do some stretching exercises on your own, here are some examples from the St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center WorkSmart Stretching Plan.
Stand up a bit
There are more than enough studies that claim sitting for long periods of time can cause health problems in the future. One way to avoid the dangers of prolonged sitting is to make sure you have work intervals. You can insert a 10-minute break into your working hours. You can also either stand up and walk around in your workplace, tidy things up, and do anything that keeps your mind off work for a little to recharge a bit. It has also been proven that walking can help you destress and boost your mood.
As science has it, adult bodies are made up of 60% of water. Drinking water plays a critical role in keeping ourselves healthy. As we work throughout the day, we must ensure that we have an intake of 30-50 ounces of water per day in order to maintain the functions of every system in our body.
Ergonomics is a vague topic and people find it difficult to relate it in the work setting. The underlying fact is that with poor ergonomics, you can possibly have long term health issues. However, in the short time of investing and learning ergonomics, this discipline can provide you with healthy habits that can positively contribute to your health in the long run. You’ll find along the way that ergonomics can help you stay healthy, productive, and safe in the workplace.
Visual by: Rissa Kei Chua