Ergonomics & Working From Home (What You Need to Know)

Ergonomics & Working From Home

Working from home has never been so prevalent. 

We are not only navigating a historical public health crisis ---- we are in the midst of a workplace sea change. As of this writing, almost all employees that can work from home are doing so. Even before this recent adjustment, workers have seen a dramatic rise in opportunities to work from home.

Just since 2011, there has been a 50% rise in access to work from home benefits in the United States. Approximately 60% of employers offer their employees the option of telecommuting or working remotely occasionally or regularly. Employers enjoy the cost-savings and employees enjoy the flexibility.

And, because of this demand, remote-work technology and 24/7 connectivity have vastly improved. These are great workplace advances. We are benefitting from those advances now.

What has not advanced as quickly is an adequately comfortable, ergonomic work environment in your home.

Working from the comfort of your home 
is not always comfortable. 

This problem cannot be overlooked any longer. Proper ergonomics should not be exclusive to the office. 

What is ergonomic? 

Ergonomic  -  from the Greek word ergon meaning work, and nomoi meaning natural laws. Ergonomics is the science of refining the design of products to optimize them for human use. 

What’s an ergonomic work space?

It’s a work space designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment. It removes those things that cause musculoskeletal pain and injury and promotes your productivity. Some computers, computer desks, and chairs are designed with ergonomics in mind. It’s time to bring all of that ergonomic know-how and technology into your home work space. 

You need to do it for your productivity AND your body.

Working on the Floor - Poor Ergonomics

Here’s the truth:

Most of us who work from home don’t have a private office. Our home wasn’t built with that in mind.  When we ask our patients that work from home to describe their workstation setup, very few report having a separate office and desk. 

A more typical reply?
They are slouched over a laptop on their couch or at the kitchen table. 

Believe it or not, we’ve even had patients tell us they work on their laptop while lying in bed.
That may SOUND comfortable but it won’t be for long.

Soon the lower back will ache. Then it’s the neck aching from looking down all day long.

We know from experience here at Daniels Chiropractic that prolonged laptop use leads to both immediate and long-term injuries. Among them:

  • Neck Pain (“Tech Neck”)
  • Tension Headaches
  • Mid-back pain

Home Workspace

How can I make my home workspace more ergonomic?

Designate a workstation devoted just to work.
Laptops are amazing inventions but they don’t have the best features for ergonomic comfort. Their keyboard spacing, screen size, screen position relative to eye-level, and pointing devices are all poorly designed for ergonomics. 

Find a comfortable office chair with proper support.
Ideally, this chair is designed for office work and is adjustable in height and positioning. This is critical if your flat work surface is not adjustable.Your chair should also have good back support and have arms for support. You will want to keep your knees at a 90 degree angle with your feet on the floor in front of you.

Use a height-adjustable desk.
If you don’t have room for a desk, use a flat and stable surface such as a kitchen table or a countertop. If you can invest in a proper desk, first find your optimum desk and chair height in our table below.

Your Height - Without Shoe Heels

Optimum Desk Height in Inches

Optimum Chair Height in Inches

5’2” - 5’3”

25” - 25.4”

16.7” - 16.9”

5’4” - 5’5”

25.8” - 26.2”

17.2” - 17.5”

5’6” - 5’7”

26.6” - 27”

17.7” - 18”

5’8” - 5’9”

27.4” - 27.8”

18.3” - 18.5”

5’10” - 5’11”

28.2” - 28.6”

18.8” - 19.1”

6’ - 6’1”

29” - 29.4”

19.4” - 19.6”

6’2” - 6’3”

29.8” - 30.2”

19.8” - 20.2”

Standing desks are popular for good reason. If you don’t have that option, then switching between a chair and standing position throughout the day can really help. Look around the house for something to use as a standing desk such as a freestanding bookshelf.

Alternating a standard and standing desk, along with breaks for walking and stretching, will give your neck and back the best chance at remaining strong and not over-stressed from prolonged sitting. 

Working From Home - Ergonomics

Adjust your computer setup.
Invest in an external keyboard and possibly a monitor. Attaching these to your laptop can make it more ergonomically friendly. Arrange the computer and keyboard to help your arms and neck. The monitor or computer screen should be right at or just below eye-level and about an arm’s length away.

Proper Desk Posture

Using an external keyboard with your laptop will allow you to type close to yourself - arms at a 90 degree angle - but have the screen an arm’s length away and up at eye-level. Either use an external monitor or place your laptop up on a stand or set of coffee table books at eye level.

What’s so bad about my laptop?

Laptops are amazing inventions but they don’t have the best features for ergonomic comfort. Their keyboard spacing, screen size, screen position relative to eye-level, and pointing devices are all poorly designed for ergonomics. 

Most laptop designs can put undue strain on the hands, wrists, and forearms. It’s also nearly impossible to have good posture when using a laptop keyboard. We tend to slump into a rounded sitting posture and that puts excessive stress on the upper body and neck.     

In other words, they are terrific for short periods of time, but not so great for extended and daily use without some attachments and help.
Prioritize Your Health 

Take some time this weekend to create a more ergonomically-friendly work environment at home. You will not just see an improvement in productivity and quality of your work. The changes you make now will prevent stress and injury later.

Still in pain?

If tech neck or back pain is not going away, give us a call. We are seeing patients in our clinic, taking all precautions necessary.

At Daniels Chiropractic we can get your spine back into its normal position and increase its mobility. We can also design a stretching and exercise plan for you to practice at home while you work there.

We are committed to helping you feel, move, and live better. Give us a call at 262.638.9999 to make an appointment.

Daniels Chiropractic Office

2609 Rapids Drive
Racine, WI 53404
Phone: 262.638.9999
Fax: 262.638.0742


​This article was produced with the help of the Chiropractic Success Academy.