Working remotely comes with its own unique set of pros and cons. One of the perks is that you’re able to establish and optimize your office according to your wants and needs. As you do so, make sure you design an office that’s ergonomically friendly!
The N-E-W Acronym
“Ergonomics is about fitting the tasks being performed to the capabilities of the human performing them,” EHS Today explains. “To this end, key ergonomic concepts can be summed up with one word ‘N-E-W’. Remembering this acronym will help people working at an office or home maintain productivity and more importantly, reduce injury risk.”
The N-E-W acronym stands for:
- Neutral Posture. The goal is to maintain a proper posture whenever you’re sitting at your desk. This means having your neck straight, shoulders back yet relaxed, elbows at a right angle, wrists straight, and lower back fully supported on the back of the chair. Hips should be at 90 degrees, as should your knees. Both feet should be flat on the floor directly in front of you.
- Eye and Elbow Height. Regardless of whether you’re sitting or standing, your keyboard and mouse need to be directly in front of you and accessible without straining. The top of your computer monitor should be at or just above eye level.
- Work Area. If there are any office items that you use frequently - like a stapler or notebook - they should be within direct reach. All other items should be moved to a secondary work zone where they’re accessible, but out of the way.
If you pay attention to these three components of your remote office or workspace, you’ll be happier, healthier, and more productive.
3 Tips for Your Remote Office
Keeping the aforementioned principles in mind, here are some practical tips you can implement to transform your remote office:
1. Choose the Right Office Chair
The problem with most office chairs is they’re either too rigid or too forgiving. If an office chair is too rigid - meaning it’s stiff and unable to manipulate - you’ll be unable to optimize according to your needs. (Not to mention you’ll feel uncomfortable.) If an office chair is too forgiving, it could lead to slouching and improper back support.
The right office chair is firm and supportive, but can be adjusted to account for your specific needs, including height, weight, body position, etc.
Here are a few good office chair options on Amazon. See if there are any that stand out, read the reviews, and consider upgrading.
2. Consider Buying a Standing Desk
Even with the perfect office chair, it’s important that you don’t spend six, eight, or 10-plus hours sitting down during the workday. A standing desk allows you to remain productive while being able to effortlessly alternate between sitting and standing. Here’s a good guide to help you find the right option for your needs.
3. Pay Attention to Lighting
Lighting is something that’s very important, yet often gets lost in the shuffle. Not only do you need adequate lighting in your office to reduce the tendency to squint your eyes or crane your neck, but you should also avoid glare.
There are three basic types of glare: direct, indirect, and contrast. Direct glare comes straight from a light shining in your eyes - like a beam of sunlight through a window. Indirect glare is light that bounces off an object (like your monitor) and into the eyes. Contrast glare occurs when there’s a light colored object next to a dark object. This forces your retina to simultaneously become large (to see the dark object) and small (to see the light object).
Proactively reduce glare by installing the proper window coverings and using balanced lighting throughout your workspace.
Take Care of Yourself
The average remote office worker will spend somewhere between 150 and 250 hours at their workspace every month. If you’re going to spend this much time sitting at a desk and pecking away at a keyboard, it makes sense that you optimize it in a manner that’s conducive to health and productivity.
Analyze your current remote office setup and contrast it against the tips discussed in this article. Are there one or two items that stick out to you? You don’t have to change everything at once. A few small tweaks can make a huge difference.