Working safely from home
Healthy work practices are also key to maintaining your wellbeing while working from home. Follow the tips below to help prevent health problems, such as strain and repetitive motion injuries.
- Maintain good posture. If you sit hunched over or strain your arms or wrists to reach your mouse and keyboard, you can sustain injuries. Sit with your back straight, your shoulders square, and your feet flat on the floor. Your arms should hang straight down from your shoulders and bend at a 90-degree angle at the elbow to reach your keyboard.
- Sit and stand. Sitting all day long can contribute to serious health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. On the other hand, standing all day can cause muscle fatigue, back pain, joint damage, and other ailments. Try to vary your working position between sitting and standing throughout the day. Even if you don’t have an adjustable sit-stand desk, consider standing during phone calls or when you read.
- Move and stretch. Movement and stretching can refresh muscles and nerves, and prevent repetitive motion injuries. Try to move at least once each hour—and consider breaking up your day with a walk or exercise.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Working at a computer all day long can cause eye strain. You can help keep your eyes comfortable by following the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, turn away from your computer monitor and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Preventing accidents and injuries
A well-designed ergonomic home office, combined with good working habits, can help you prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. But keep in mind that office workers and visitors can also sustain injuries from accidents and their environment.
- Slip, trip, and fall accidents. Falling is the most common office accident. You can help prevent falls by routing electrical cords out of walkways, making sure carpet and other flooring is flat and secure, and using a ladder not a chair to reach overhead objects or change ceiling lights.
- Child safety. If you have young children at home, you’ll want to childproof your home office. Plug unused electric sockets with covers. Place hazardous materials and sharp tools—such as scissors and paper cutters—out of reach. You may also want to cover sharp corners on filing cabinets and furniture.
- Air quality. Poor air quality can strain your eyes and irritate your nose and throat. Make sure your home office is well ventilated and that you use and store chemicals safely. Consider installing a carbon monoxide detector as well to prevent CO poisoning.
With a modest financial investment and careful planning, you can create a welcoming, safe home office that enables you to be productive and stay healthy. From time to time—once a quarter or annually—consider assessing your home office and work habits to determine how you can make improvements.