How to Setup an Ergonomic Home Office

We’re far from out of the woods, Covid is on the rise and working from home is more important now than ever. While you are hibernating and protecting the most vulnerable in our society, you still need to work in comfort. Comfort doesn’t mean working on the couch though. What seems comfortable for an hour turns to back, neck, hip and shoulder pain pretty quickly, it ultimately impedes your work performance too. There are a myriad of solutions though so there’s no need to suffer through the pain, potentially causing long term damage. Ergonomic furniture is the best remedy and preventative measure against work-related injuries. The science behind ergonomics is complex, but luckily setting up an ergonomic workspace is simple and it can be done in a jiffy. Here’s what you need to know…

Diagram example of setting up an ergonomic desk
Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Why You Need an Ergonomic Workstation

You may otherwise succumb to injuries in the absence of an ergonomic workstation but these injuries will also have a knock-on effect on your mood, productivity and the quality of your work. Should you choose to invest in proper ergonomic home office furniture, the investment will be repaid many times over, if you are unable to though, all is not lost! There are many simple solutions which will go a long way to improving your productivity and general health and wellbeing, which won’t cost you a thing.

Setting up your ergonomic home office takes a bit of time but it’s really not complicated and your body with thank you for it in the long run. You might not have all the tools and equipment you need in the beginning but there are ways around that. Books and shoeboxes will come in handy too.

The Perfect Home Office Spot

Before you brush off the importance of the right spot, consider the impact a noisy street, glare on your screen, inappropriate room temperatures and the inability to move freely will have on your general comfort levels after only a full day of work. When you pick the ideal spot for your new home office consider your comfort first and foremost. Your nook, corner or room will have enough natural light during the day and the right light in the evenings, it will be warm enough in winter and cool enough in summer, it will also offer shelter from potential distractions.

Your Desk Layout

It’s easy to underestimate the effect that the incorrect placement your tools might have. You’ll realise quickly though if you are constantly reaching for your mouse or keyboard that small adjustments are essential if you want to avoid repetitive strain injuries. In our usual office settings, we take our separate keyboards, laptop stands and spare screen for granted. The problem with laptops is the distance to your keyboard and the height of your screen. 

Laptops were designed to be used on the go, unfortunately they aren’t ideal if you are looking for an ergonomic solution but most of us are stuck with them and it’s nothing that can’t be fixed. To prevent yourself from reaching over constantly and looking down at your computer screen, ensure that your keyboard is far enough away that your elbows can rest on your desk, your mouse (the tracking isn’t a long-term solution either) is equally close and your screen is raised to eyelevel. 

When it comes to notepads and extra desk accessories, depending on the size of your desk it might be best to keep it to a minimum. Things that get in the way, end up affecting your posture and comfort levels so essentials only should be on your desk.

Here are some more specific things to take note of:

The Perfect Screen Arrangement

Again, the screen needs to sit at eye level. More specifically, you want your eyes to rest between the top of the screen and the top one-third of the screen. The less your neck is angled down the better. The best bet if you don’t have a laptop stand is to stack a few books or even shoeboxes under your screen to get the perfect height.

If you are using more than one screen, arrange them so that you don’t have to turn your neck and head too far or repetitively to see your work. Ideally, you want to sit right in the middle of the two screens if you use them both equally, otherwise your primary screen can take precedence in your view. 

To prevent eyestrain and headaches, remember to also adjust your screen to prevent glare, the best bet is to keep your screen at a 90 angle to the desk. Sitting further from your screen will help too. 

Your Dream Ergonomic Chair

Along with an ergonomic desk, an ergonomic chair is an essential part of your arsenal in the fight against workplace injuries such as back, neck and shoulder pain. Ukhuni has a brilliant selection of fully adjustable ergonomic office chairs in their Home Habitat range which will allow you to choose the height, seat depth and backrest of your chair as needed.

Photo credit: ukhuni.co.za

If you are on a budget, you can also place a cushion between the backrest and your back for extra lumbar support. In addition, you can put a shoebox under your feet so that your feet don’t dangle off the floor, which will result in back pain later on. If you’re taller, sitting on a cushion is great too.

The Perfect Home Office Desk

Next in your list of essentials is an ergonomic desk. The term ergonomic desk may sound like a misnomer but in truth there is such thing as the wrong desk. The wrong desk will not allow your elbows and equipment to rest at the right height. On a budget, a kitchen table or dining room table has to do, but they may later result in back pain. The reason is this: the right ergonomic arrangement will ensure that your feet rest flat on the floor, your calves are at a 90⁰ angle to your thighs, to prevent shoulder pain and your elbows need to rest at a 90 angle too. A desk of the wrong height will throw this entire system out of balance. 

Ukhuni’s solution to this lies in their new range of home office furniture. The desks are the right height to ensure comfort and improve your productivity. Better still is a standing desk, the best way to prevent any pain at all is to move around regularly and a standing desk allows this. Some people may prefer to remain seated but a height-adjustable desk means that you don’t have to choose. With an electronically adjustable height, you can swop between heights throughout the day. 

Photo credit: ukhuni.co.za

Physical Movement

The last and most important step to preventing work-related pain is to stand up and move regularly. If you must, set a timer to make sure you get up from your desk every hour. Taking a walk to the restroom, kitchen or just standing up and stretching will ensure that your muscles don’t sit in the same position for long periods at a time. There are loads of great stretches you can do to alleviate cramps or pain, just remember to ask your physiotherapist for stretches that are right for you.

Another thing which will aid your ability to move and adjust your spine is the right chair. One which you can lean back in and sit comfortably without throwing out the natural curvature of your spine will really help.

Lastly the ability to move around behind your desk, to stretch out now and then will also come in handy. If your desk is too close to a wall or there is too much furniture in the way you are far less likely to move around sufficiently. 
With your ideal home office setup, you will never look back at the days you may have spent hunched over or craning your neck, filled with the worst pain, discomfort and physiotherapy sessions. Ukhuni has a number of home office solutions for when you are ready to invest in the perfect ergonomic home office furniture. For more information and advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch.