Four Easy Ways to Improve Your Work From Home Experience

Making a few adjustments can help make your work from home experience more practical and pleasant.

Working from home can mean sitting in an ergonomic desk chair in your private home office or sitting slumped over on the couch in your living room. While no two home office environments are the same, there are ways to modify most spaces to fit your body and reduce injury. Here are four steps to make sure your home office is as comfortable as possible.

Choose the right chair.

A soft couch or plush chair might be comfortable for napping or watching TV, but sitting in one for eight hours every day is another matter. Instead of picking the coziest option, it’s better to pick a seat that offers proper back support and sits at a height that enables you to easily use a keyboard, monitor or other equipment if needed. Look for a chair that:

  • Supports your lower back (lumbar spine)
  • Allows your feet to be flat on the floor
  • Positions your hips just above your knees
  • Makes your arms form a right angle to the table, desk or other work surface

Remember that the most expensive chair isn’t always the best option. A chair that offers lumbar support and sits at a comfortable height from your work surface is better than a fancy option that promotes poor posture.

Sit and stretch properly.

While choosing a supportive chair is half the battle, sitting properly is just as important. If you’re hunched over a laptop on your couch, you’re likely putting stress on your neck, shoulders and back, which can lead to muscle aches and increased wear and tear on your ligaments. Remember to choose a seat that supports your lower back and allows you to lean back slightly when sitting to ensure you relax and protect your spine. Rather than sitting up straight, leaning back allows your pelvis to be aligned properly, forming a straight line from your upper to lower back. If you’re sitting too hunched over, your lower back might look like the letter “C,” and if you’re too upright, there might be a noticeable gap between your lower back and the chair. Ideally, your feet should also be flat on the floor. If you need to cross your legs, cross them at the ankles instead of the knees.

Remember: stretch breaks are essential, too. Generally, for every hour you sit down, you should take a 10-minute standing or stretching break. If you’re on a call, walk around outside, stretch inside or do a bit of both to promote blood flow. When there’s no time to spare, try a quick seated stretch like toe touches or arm and shoulder stretches, which increase blood flow.

Position your monitor correctly.

Staring at a screen for hours every day can cause eyestrain, especially if the screen is too close or too far away. If you have a monitor at home, make sure it’s at least an arm’s distance away, and positioned so your eyes are about two to three inches below the top of the screen. This makes sure that you’re viewing your work at a comfortable distance and height, which prevents neck and shoulder discomfort. A common—and free—workaround to not having a monitor is to use your TV. Often, you can connect your laptop to a Smart TV wirelessly, or use an HDMI cable to project your computer screen onto your TV. This set-up will especially help if you are working from a laptop, which often don’t allow users to maintain a proper distance from their screens. If you don’t have a TV, or prefer to look at a smaller screen, consider purchasing an external keyboard to plug in to your laptop. This will allow you to move the laptop’s screen to an arm’s length away and create less eye strain.

Limit distractions.

This might be the most difficult step in improving your office space. Without a structured office environment free of distractions, many at-home employees might be tempted to sneak in some social media time. While a break from work isn’t a bad thing, looking from one screen to another isn’t an ideal way to relax in between tasks. Opt to clean the kitchen, grab a quick snack or play with your pets instead of reaching for your phone or bingeing an episode of your favorite show. If you’re looking for a way to relieve stress and stay focused throughout the day, try meditating for five minutes before you begin working or during the day to help keep you calm, collected and focused. Another way to relax is to try listening to music or white noise to tune out those unwanted sounds.

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