Even with the pandemic and the shift to work from home (“WFH”), business owners remain responsible for making sure employees’ home work spaces are safe, comfortable, and effective. For employees working at a computer most of the day, bad ergonomics can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and sciatica. MSDs can be uncomfortable or painful for employees. Beyond the impact on productivity and job satisfaction, MSDs often require medical treatment and can result in longer term disabilities.
When employees work from home, the are unlikely to have the same chair and workstation options as they do at the office. Businesses should do what they can to help employees maintain good posture and relieve strain.
This short checklist can help you evaluate work from home environments. Have employees answer these questions to determine if any changes are needed and appropriate. Often, small adjustments to the work space can improve ergonomics and reduce the risk of injury.
- Are items that you frequently use located close by?
- Are items positioned equally on both sides, i.e., not all on the dominant side of your body?
- Are feet resting flat on the floor, with hips slightly higher than knees?
- Does the chair fit the contour of your back? If you can, adjust the back rest up or down to fit the
natural curve of your lower back with the curve of the chair.
- Is there a two-finger gap between the back of your lower legs and the seat of your chair? If
possible, adjust the seat pan forward or backward to correctly fit it to the length of your legs.
- Are both chair arms are at the same height to prevent you from leaning one way throughout the
- Can you use your keyboard and mouse without twisting or reaching? Note: If you can’t get the
keyboard or monitor low enough for your body type then raise your chair and use a footrest to
obtain the ideal height for the chair, keyboard, and monitor.
- Is the keyboard close to elbow level to help keep the wrists straight? Note: Don’t use high force to
type on your keyboard as force can put strain on your muscles and ligaments.
- Is the mouse located right next to the keyboard so it can be operated without reaching?
- Can you move your mouse cursor from one end of your screen(s) to the other without picking it
up? (Adjust mouse/pointer settings as needed in your software)
- Can you see the display of both monitors without looking downward or to either side?
- Does the distance from your monitor(s) to your eyes allow you to read the screen without leaning
your head, neck, or trunk forward or backward?
- Is the monitor positioned so the top line of the screen is no higher than eye level? Note: If you
wear bifocals and you feel like you’re always looking down, you should adjust your monitors lower
than the normal height to use the bifocal part of your glasses.
- When possible, do you make small adjustments to your chair or backrest to keep from staying in
the same posture for long periods of time?
- Do you stretch your fingers, hands, arms, and torso throughout the day?
- At least hourly, do you stand up and walk around for a few minutes periodically?
- If possible, do you perform some of your tasks in a standing position? Note: When adjusting height of your
desk or monitor, ensure it is on a sturdy surface with proper adjustment of your mouse also.
If you cannot answer “Yes” to most, if not all, of these questions, we can help. Cumulus Global can provide ergonomic aids — from keyboards and wrist supports to monitor arms and sit/stand desks. Email us or complete our contact form for information and solutions.