Home Office Ergonomics: Tips for Working “Correctly”, Part II

September 2, 2020 | Ann Dimiero

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Home Office Ergonomics: Tips for Working “Correctly”, Part II

Office Ergonomics is the science of fitting the task to the worker to maximize productivity while reducing discomfort, fatigue, and injury. In our previous post, we addressed the first three key factors- your chair, worksurface, and keyboard and mouse placement. The next three factors will help fine tune your newly ergonomic home office space and address the concerns of eye strain.

  1. Monitor and Document Placement

The angle at which you need to turn to look at your display monitors, documents, and important tools can have a significant impact on your posture through the day. You’ll need to take into account not just the height of the monitor, but also its angle, tilt, and how far away from you it is placed.

  • Start by aligning the top of the monitor at or just below eye level. This will reduce strain to your neck from looking upward throughout the day.
  • Place the monitor at least an arm’s length away while reclining. The optimum viewing distance should be 20-30 inches, with a minimum of 16 inches.
  • Center your keyboard spacebar and the monitor with the midline of your body. The screen you use most should be directly in front of you, reducing your need to twist to see.
  • Bi-focal users should have the lower edge of the monitor tilted upward.
  • If you’re utilizing multiple monitors, align them at the same height side by side, and angle them inwards.
  • Many officer workers need to refer to documents as they type. Lying these papers flat on the desk or beneath the monitor can cause neck and back strain, as you bend and twist to read the documents. Using a document holder or copy holder creates a viewing angle that enables you to work with a straight neck and proper posture.
  1. Laptop Considerations

For all of the laptop’s flexibility, the combined design can often make it difficult to keep both the screen and keyboard in ergonomic positions at the same time. For those using a laptop as their primary computer while working from home, one solution may be separate keyboards and mice on an articulating keyboard support.

Additionally, an adjustable laptop holder or an external monitor attached to a flat panel monitor arm corrects monitor position and improves upper body posture.

  1. Proper Lighting

When lighting is only delivered to a worksurface from the ceiling, there are two major issues. First, your monitors and documents will have completely different lighting levels. Second, individual task lights have completely different lighting levels. The differences will force your eyes to adjust constantly between tasks.

The solution to this issue is to utilize dual source lighting, positioning a task light opposite your writing hand and below your eyes. Be sure not to direct the light on your monitor, which will cause glare, and that the lighting goes across your viewing area.

Now that you know all of the individual pieces of an ergonomic office, how do we put them all together?

Many of us and our team members have been working from home and with the shift toward WFH, many will continue to do so. We all may be starting to feel some aches and pain. Now is the time to take action to ensure we are supported and working comfortably in our home workstation or office to reduce the risk of pain and injury. Be sure to review your risk factors, signs and symptoms of workplace strain, and how to attain an optimal posture while working.

Once you’ve had the chance to adjust your home office, let us know: Do you feel more comfortable or efficient in your new set up?

About the Authors

Ann Dimiero, NCIDQ, has over 30 years of experience on federal, defense, and commercial projects providing interior design management, federal government design, space planning, facilities management, and construction management services. She recently served as the change management and move manager on the GSA, Department of Health and Human Services Renovation and Relocation Project in Philadelphia, PA, winner of the CMAA Mid-Atlantic Project of the Year Award. Ann holds a BS in Environmental (Interior) Design from Syracuse University, and is a Certified Professional Ergonomist.

About AFG Group, Inc.

AFG Group, Inc. is a woman-­owned firm focused on multi-­disciplined program, construction, and relocation management, with a national portfolio of work in healthcare, laboratories, courthouses, educational facilities, and government buildings. With 30 years of business acumen, AFG has earned a reputation for providing strong expertise, responsiveness, and project execution that helps owners navigate through complex design, procurement, construction, and activation processes.