As a result of the pandemic, three-quarters of Dutch people with an office job are working more or always from home. Half of them like it so much that they want to continue doing it after the Corona era. While there are certainly benefits to working from home, there is also one major drawback: your body suffers.
Your improvised workplace has a lot of impact on your body. You may not notice that at first, but you can definitely feel it later. It can lead to pain and other health problems that you can continue to suffer from after the corona crisis.
Working from home without an ergonomic working posture
Most Dutch people are not set up to work from home and work on a laptop on the sofa or at the kitchen table. Working without an ergonomic chair and without a keyboard or computer screen has consequences for your body and chances are that you have already felt it in your neck, shoulders or back.
In that case, you’re actually already too late, says Alan Hedge, director of the human factors and ergonomics research group at Cornell University. “A workplace that is not ergonomic will accelerate the development of musculoskeletal problems.” This means that you can get complaints ranging from the neck, shoulders, back, hand, wrist and legs.
Cornell University made a “Where it hurts” guide to avoid this. Below you will find complaints that you have or may get in the future, and what you can do for a better ergonomic working posture.
Your neck and shoulders hurt
If your neck and shoulders are bothering you, it’s probably because you’re gazing down all day. Every inch that moves your neck forward adds an extra ten pounds of weight to your neck. A laptop stand with which you can place your screen at eye level is therefore ideal. With a few books under your laptop, working from home is a lot more ergonomic.
Your eyes are tired
Because we stay indoors as much as possible, we not only look at a screen while working from home, but also during the virtual Vrijmibo. Looking at a screen too much causes your eyes to work harder, which can lead to headaches and other complaints.
The solution is to occasionally give your eyes a rest. You do this, for example, by going around the block during your working day. In addition, stick to the 20-20-20 rule. Every twenty minutes you look at an object at a distance of six meters for at least twenty seconds (that is, twenty feet).
You get leg cramps
Leg pain or cramps while working from home is a sign that you are not in good posture. Your blood has not been able to circulate properly. Normally you would adjust your office chair so that your feet can be flat on the floor. Don’t have an office chair? Then use a box or other footrest. Your thighs should be horizontal for an ergonomic working position.
You have sore wrists
If your hands and wrists are not in a neutral position, it can cause pain. In the long term, this can even lead to carpal tunnel syndrome (a condition in which a nerve is pinched in the wrist). A separate keyboard and mouse can prevent these complaints, Princeton University recommends.
Also remember that your arms normally rest on armrests. Does your dining room chair not have that? When working from home, slide your chair as close to the table as possible so that your forearms can fully lean on the table.
You have backache
We often tend to lean forward, especially when working on a laptop. Try to be aware of your posture, and sit up straight if you find yourself bent. Cornell University recommends trying a towel. You roll this up and put it behind your back.
For all these complaints, getting up regularly and taking short breaks already makes a world of difference. Let the freedom to organize your day and take breaks is just one of the benefits of working from home.