Support your body while working from home

Working remotely has its challenges — here’s how to stay healthy and motivated

Mixed race businesswoman using laptop

Roughly one year ago, when COVID-19 hit a global scale, many packed up their office belongings to work from home.

At first, some thought it might be for just a few weeks. But here we are. A year later.

The majority of U.S. workers — 56% — are still working from home at least some if not all of the time, according to a recent Gallup poll. Many of those same workers said they’d prefer to stay working from home.

Prevent injuries: Schedule a workspace assessment from Sanford Health

Even as more vaccinations roll out, it’s still unknown how long businesses will keep employees working remotely.

Working from home does present its challenges. Here’s a few tips to stay motivated from Grant Judah, senior physical therapist at Sanford Health in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Work surface

Judah said creating a space that’s similar to an in-office setup can help with productivity.

“Get a nice firm work surface. You want to pick something that’s close to the height of your desk at work,” he said.

He also said if you work in an office setting, you’re likely sitting for longer periods of time. Because of this, having a supportive chair can work wonders in maintaining your overall health.

“Most chairs are pretty standard in terms of chair heights. The majority of chairs are probably 16-20 inches. Find a chair with a back rest, because then you can prop cushioning off of that for back support,” said Judah.

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He recommends adding cushioning not only for your back, but also where you sit. That way, you keep yourself elevated to avoid sitting too low.

“Simply just putting an extra pillow or an extra cushion, even a towel that raises them up 1 to 2 inches can significantly change posture,” said Judah.

Another component to take into account, Judah said, is the positioning of your laptop or monitors.

He said it’s important to keep the screens close to eye level, “to avoid looking down for too long.”

He said you can even use items around your home, like books or a box, to help get your monitors to eye level.

Risk factors

Judah said poor posture is the biggest risk and can lead to more health problems in the future.

“You can be exposed to musculoskeletal injuries — things like tendonitis, muscle strains, those kinds of things.”

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He also says while you’re home, it’s important to find times to take a break from looking at screens.

And listen to your body.

“Whenever you feel fatigue, either from eyestrain or from a body standpoint, it’s probably a good time to take a break.”

As far as breaks go, Judah would like to remind everyone to incorporate some movement into the day. This can be tricky, as it’s often easier to go for quick walks at the office.

He also said you can schedule someone to look at your current at-home workstation, and offer some feedback. Sanford Health offers ergonomic workspace assessments through the Occupational Medicine program.

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Posted In Healthy Living, Rehabilitation & Therapy, Wellness, Workplace Health

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