Work/Life Resources

Creating a Safe Work from Home Environment

Woman sits on couch to work from home

Ergonomics, or information related to your body's comfort in your working environment, is an important consideration for those working from home. Back aches, head aches, and strained eyes all result from having a work set-up that does not put your comfort first. You'll be spending a few hours a day in your home-work environment, so take a moment to make sure it meets your needs.

Follow these tips from MIT's Environmental Health & Safety Office to avoid injury while working form home.

  • Take your laptop off your lap. The position encourages slouching and learning your head forward. This can load your cervical spine with extra pounds of pressure, causing muscle and joint aches.
  • Raise your screen higher. The ideal position for your screen is one that lets you view the screen easily without bending or rotating your neck. Elevate the laptop with thick books or a laptop stand. You'll know the monitor is in the correct position when your eyes can naturally look at the top third of your screen as you look straight ahead.
  • Use a separate monitor, keyboard and mouse. If possible, plug these accessories into your laptop so you can better position them in your work space. With your monitor at eye level, your laptop's keyboard won't be as easy to reach. Having an external mouse and keyboard allows your shoulders and arms to relax.  Your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle, tucked close to your body, and your wrists should be in a neutral position when typing. This posture helps keep you from rounding your shoulders and pulling your neck muscles.
  • Increase font size or screen magnification. While laptops are designed to be portable and easy-to-use, be sure that your laptop’s screen is big enough for your needs. A smaller screen may cause you to strain to see text and objects. If you find yourself hunching forward to read from your screen, you can also increase the font size.
  • Put your feet up If you have to raise your chair to position your arms and wrists comfortably, check to see how your legs are angled. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and your knees should be at an even height with your hips. If your hips are too high or your feet don’t reach the floor, use a step or block to support the bottom of your feet. This can help you maintain a neutral lumbar spine and reduce strain on your lower back.
  • Stand up. Working from a standing position can help alleviate pressure on your back and leg muscles
  • Take a Break Set a reminder on your phone to take a brief break. Get your eyes off the screen and let them rest on something in the distance. You can do simple stretches at your desk, such as stretching your neck, shoulders, arms, and legs. Leave your desk to walk around to get your blood flowing and muscles loose. If it is not possible to walk, at least stand, stretch and move. You can also use the 20-20-20 technique which means:
    • Every 20 minutes on screen time
    • Look away for ≥20 second
    • At something ≥20 feet away


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