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In today’s podcast, Julie Clements, Chief Solutions Officer at Managed Outsource Solutions discusses top ergonomic tips for working from home.

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Hello my name is Julie Clements. I am the Chief Solutions Officer here at Managed Outsourced Solutions. As a lot of us are working from home right now due to the pandemic, I wanted to talk about some of the top ergonomic tips for working from home.

So, more than seven months have passed since companies – actually, my goodness, it’s been even more than that we’re getting close to a year it feels like – switched to work-from-home policies to keep going as the pandemic changed our lives. Fortunately, strategies like video meetings supported by digital transcription services are helping organizations to communicate with their employees seamlessly and to get their work done. However, for many people, working from a bed or kitchen counter that’s too high or too low has led to back, neck and shoulder pain and other issues and problems. Making some simple modifications to your working arrangements at home can help you stay productive, injury free and healthy.

00:53 Survey Report on Poor Ergonomics

The common reasons for neck and back pain or sore wrists and fingers is poor ergonomics when you’re seated in front of your computer or laptop. HR Reporter referenced a University of Cincinnati survey of their 4,300 staff and 4,200 faculty members which found that:

  • Many remote workers do not have the tools they need to be comfortable working from home.
  • While 58% have some type of office chair, 27% use dining chairs while 15 per cent work sitting on beds or couches.
  • Up to 41% use chairs that were too low, which resulted in poor body or poor head posture, while 63 per cent sit on chairs with a hard surface.
  • While 53% of the workers have armrests on their chairs, 32% do not use them or the armrest is improperly adjusted, which is about 18 percent and this can cause contact stress on forearms and strain across the upper back.
  • More than 90 per cent of workstations have a hard, sharp edge. We are all not doing this right.
  • 69% do not use the support of the back of the chair and 73% often do not have the lumbar support.

These are incredibly funny and looking that everything I’m doing wrong, as I’m going through all of these!

02:10 Tips for a Safe, Ergonomic Work-From-Home Setup

These findings show just how important it is to have a comfortable work-from-home arrangement to ensure the long-term health of remote workers. Here are five top tips for a safe, ergonomic work-from-home arrangement:

  • First is to ensure you have correct chair height. Looks like I need to do some shopping. So you need to use a chair that will maintain the natural alignment of your spine. The chair’s height should be adjusted so that your elbows rest at the height of your table. This is important to keep your wrists in the correct position and prevent carpel tunnel syndrome.
  • Use the right desk/table: There should be sufficient space under the desk for comfortable placement of your knees, thighs and feet. A desk that is too low or too high should be adjusted so that you can sit correctly. This means you should sit comfortably as close as possible to your desk with your upper arms parallel to your spine. Use a wrist pad or pad the edge if your desk has a hard edge. Don’t store things under your desk.
  • Maintain good posture: To understand good desk posture, you need to understand what bad desk posture means. So, rounding your upper back and shoulders hunching forward when you sit at your computer is bad. It can lead to pain and it stresses your back, your shoulder, and your neck muscles. So, ensure that your computer screen is level with your eyes and your eyeline is level with your web browser’s address bar. If your screen is too low, it will make you flex forward which will affect your neck.
  • Ensure adequate equipment spacing: Ideally, you need a dedicated space for a long-term work-from-home arrangement. If you do not have one, find one. Find a niche where you can space out more properly. Your home or office space should be able to accommodate all the equipment you need to do your work – the laptop, external keyboard and mouse, and monitor (if you have one) as well as any other necessary material. Place your mouse within easy reach at the same time and the same level as keyboard.
  • Don’t work from the couch or bed, if possible: It can be tempting to work from a soft bed or couch but this is not good for your body. It can lead to a lot of problems, including numbness. It will likely ruin your posture by encouraging you to slump your shoulders and lean forward. A Healthline article explains that even if you sit in your bed, you’re still sitting on an uneven surface for an extended period of time and having the monitor at an incorrect height, and likely curving your back. So, this can create pain either immediately or over time, which can also decrease sleep quality.
  • Make sure you change your position frequently. So, take breaks. As you sit at your desk, it’s important to vary your posture often to avoid back, neck and shoulder pain. Eric Robertson (he’s a physical therapist and spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association) says it’s best to alternate your position about every hour. Experts also recommend taking regular breaks. So, an ideal option would be to walk around and stretch for five minutes after an hour of work. This will help relax your body and keep you alert. Another break you should take is from the computer screen. Do follow the 20/20 rule, says the BU Today. For every 20 minutes spent looking at a computer screen, spend 20 seconds looking at something else at a distance of 20 feet. This will reduce strain on the eye muscles.

So, while ergonomics is paramount when working from home, having the right tools, technology and services to support online work is also critical. Forbes reports that 30% of IT executives surveyed by ESG believe that, from a technology perspective, the ability of workers to effectively incorporate online collaboration tools into daily work patterns will be the most significant lasting change of the COVID-19 pandemic. With video conferencing being a top online communication tool, efficient video transcription services can ensure that the content is accurately documented for reference and easy access.

So go through this again, let us make sure that we are all doing these correctly. If you have any other further questions, feel free to go to our website. I posted this article on our website

Thank you for listening!