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Ergonomics for working at home

The occupational health care service Avonova has developed a number of practical advice and tips regarding ergonomics for when you work at home.

Practical advice

  • Position yourself so that you are not disturbed by sunlight and avoid glare, reflections or mirrors in the screen. Daylight should come in from the side.
  • General lighting should provide sufficient light for the task.
  • Be attentive to your postures: sit with a good posture in the back and neck.

If possible, borrow home your computer screen, keyboard, and mouse to adjust your workplace to these ergonomic fundamental principles:

  • Place the upper edge of the screen just below eye level so that the neck can be kept straight.
  • Place the keyboard so that your arms can rest near your body.
  • Place mouse centered in front of your stomach.
  • When working with laptop it is recommended that the screen be raised up, use a rack or a pile of books and supplement with a separate keyboard and a mouse.
  • Sit near the table with your arms resting near your body.
  • If the table is too high, it is recommended to sit on a pillow or cushion to avoid working with raised shoulders.
  • Switch between sitting, standing and half lying, with support in the back, neck and arms and with the laptop resting on the lap.
  • Take frequent motion breaks at least every hour preferably every half hour. Take the opportunity to perform movements that stimulate circulation in the body effectively. The more and larger the muscle group that is activated, the better the effect will be.
  • Stretch working muscles in the neck, chest and arms get a recovery.
  • Listen to the body’s signals! Make an analysis of causation (work, leisure, training) and possible actions.

On Avonova's website, you can watch two videos with tips on how to work ergonomically while sitting on the sofa and by the kitchen table. Some practical advice for working at home, subtitled in Swedish (www.avonova.se) .

The mobile workplace

In accordance with government and employer guidelines to limit the spread of corona virus infection, more and more employees are forced to work from home. Digital solutions have helped to develop and transform the office workplace in recent years and enable more work in a home environment. At the same time, the home environment may have ergonomic limitations that increase the risk of overloading the body’s joints and muscles. This requires employees to make their own active choices that are beneficial for the body’s well-being. In this context, motion and recovery are two key words.

How we sit matters

Sitting posture increases the load on the back but this can to some extent be counteracted with a good posture that is achieved by sitting with a retained lumbar spine. A lumbar support, e.g. a rolled towel or ornamental pillow, can contribute to a relief for the back and neck. The active seating position can be a sitting position to alternate with, the pelvis is tilted forward and a natural stretch in the back is achieved.

The load on the lumbar/lower back is significantly lower if you stand with a good posture compared to sitting with a good posture. Use an ironing board or kitchen counter to switch between standing and sitting work. The recommendation is to alternately stand and sit equally during the working day.

The posture is crucial for the load on the body

Work in front of a computer a low persistent load that adversely affects the body. The position of the body parts, such as the placement of the trunk, arms and head, affects the load on muscles, vertebrae and disks and increases the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The height of the screen and vision are crucial for the head in an upright position. Regularly visiting the optician to ensure good vision and, if necessary, visual aids are a prerequisite for a good sight ergonomics.

Understand the body’s early signals

Being able to sense the body’s early signals is important to prevent musculoskeletal disorders. Soreness, tension or stiffness may be signs of overload. Pain can be a late response to overload or the result of an overload injury. Pain can in many ways be limiting and affect work effort, everyday activity, mood, recovery and sleep. In consultation with your manager, you are welcome to contact Avonova for an assessment of workrelated complaints and advice on appropriate actions and measures.

Physical activity on and off work

When working in front of a computer, there is a risk that the muscles will be kept tense for long periods of time. It is called static muscle work and impairs the bleeding in the muscles and the risk of musculoskeletal disorders increases. During dynamic muscle work, the muscles are alternately tense and relaxed. This increases blood circulation in the muscles and thus oxygenation and metabolism, which creates the conditions for gentle muscle work. In order to reduce the static load on the body and increase blood circulation, it is important to have motion breaks, preferably every half hour or at least every hour, which can be achieved by, for example, switching between sitting and standing posture, performing simple housework or taking lunch walks.

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Last changed: Nov 13, 2020