Working from home & COVID: Badly set up workstations can impact your health

The Coronavirus pandemic has forced a lot of workers to set up a working from home ‘office’. As we approach the one-year-on mark, from when the government ordered people to stay at home, some people may have adapted well to the change. Whereas others may still be struggling with an unsuitable working set up, perhaps working from the kitchen table or with a laptop precariously balanced on the sofa. 

Now is a great time to check in on your working from home set up and assess whether it could be improved. 

Here’s some basic tips from Treated.com Clinical Lead Dr Daniel Atkinson on maintaining a healthy at-home workstation:

  1. Health should always be a priority. Feeling comfortable when you’re working from home is important for both your physical and mental health. 
  2. Pick the most suitable spot. Ideally not on the sofa or bed. If possible take some time to set up a workstation area so that it works for you. 
  3. Don’t stay glued to your computer screen. When working from home it is still important to make sure that you take regular breaks, where you move your body and stretch different muscles. 
  4. Don’t be tempted to take your lunch break at your desk. Ideally you should get up, go for a walk and spend the time away from a screen to give your eyes a break. 
  5. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you start to notice aches and pains in parts of your body that are commonly associated with repetitive strain injury (RSI): such as your wrists, neck, shoulders or back; reset your work from home station using our guide to see if that makes a difference, as it can be easy to fall into bad habits. 
  6. Be open with your employer. If you have concerns about the set up of your home ‘office’ speak to your line manager as they may be able to offer some help. 

The position you hold your body in when working can significantly impact how you feel on a daily basis. Good posture can reduce the risk of aches and strains and may even contribute to a better mood. 

A sofa or a bed will not allow your body to maintain a neutral sitting position. This is where minimal strain is placed on any of your muscles and joints. 

When working from home it can be all too easy to stay rooted to your desk. But it is very important to take regular short breaks away from your screen, throughout the day. Stationary positions can inhibit blood flow and lead to aches and pains. 

Movement and stretching can help to alleviate potential musculoskeletal problems and prevent repetitive strain injuries. You should try and move about and stretch different muscles every hour if possible.

Author: Editorial Team

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