Correct: The back is straight and the height of the monitor is exactly at eye level.
Incorrect: A downward view creates excessive tension in the neck area and impairs posture.
Home offices have now become the norm, but how many of us have the same working conditions at home as we do at work? At home people often work behind their kitchen table and sit on the dining room chairs, sometimes even on the sofa holding a laptop. This is neither sensible nor healthy!
"It's worth investing in your health now rather than worry at the age of 50 about the aching hands and back," says Jan Rist, the Product Manager at Euronics. He makes sure that their customers get the most comfortable and ergonomic products for their home offices. What is the best way to set up your home office?
1. The desk - depth is important
There is one simple rule when choosing a desk - the bigger, the better. However, the depth of the desk is more important than the width. According to Jan, the correct depth starts from 80 centimeters. He explains that it would be perfect if you could rest your arms almost completely on the desk. That would eliminate tension in your shoulders and arms. It would be especially good if the desk could be adjustable (with a motor). Doctors recommend office workers stand up from time to time during office hours. The adjustable desk could be easily lifted to a suitable height. Jan believes that during an eight-hour day, it would be fine to stand for a couple of hours. If that is not possible, it would be good to take a ten-minute break every hour. Maybe go for a walk, go to the balcony, go to the kitchen for a glass of water or cup of coffee. You will feel rejuvenated again after that.
2. The chair - the creator of comfort
When choosing a chair, you need to consider how many hours a day you will spend sitting on it. The work chair has to be comfortable, ergonomic, and offer support to your back and arms. The backrest should be at a 90-degree angle, so you can lean your back against it freely.
Our apartments tend to be quite small, so a large desk might not be an option for you. If your desk is narrow, then it is worth investing in a chair with proper armrests to improve the working position. The armrests of the chairs are not just for design, their function is to extend the desk. The armrests should be at the same level as the desk to give more comfort and avoid unnecessary tension in your body.
Some office chairs have additional headrests and backrests. The so-called gaming chairs usually already have a pillow in place to support the lower back. It is because the person's back is always slightly curvy. From an ergonomic point of view, the neck support pillow is not needed, but it offers additional comfort when resting.
Before buying a chair, Jan recommends trying it out to see how comfortable it is. The best option also depends on the person's weight and height. The chairs in the lower price range can usually carry less weight and their backrests are also designed for a shorter person (usually up to 170-180 cm).
Some people prefer to use a health ball to reduce tension in their back and to increase spinal mobility. However, when practicing this, it is worth making sure that the ball is large enough so that the monitor stays at the correct height.
A good working position is when you can rest your arms almost fully on the desk.
3. Monitor - check the height
The perfect height for the monitor is when looking at it, your eyes are at the same level as the upper edge of the monitor. When the monitor is lower than that, it will cause tension in your neck because you are looking down. If you sit like that for a long time then it can cause more serious posture disorders. However, if the monitor is too high and you are looking up, it will also cause tension and pain in the neck and shoulder girdle. The biggest downside of a laptop is the small size of the screen, which puts a lot of strain on your neck as you look down a lot when working. In addition to the laptop, your home office needs a monitor, a mouse and a keyboard. All you need is a 24–27-inch monitor with an adjustable stand to make sure that the screen is at the right height. If you wish, you can get an additional tiltable mount for your monitor. It allows you to move the monitor to an upright position - a nice option for those who use word processing programs a lot.
The padded wrist rest perfectly supports the transition from hand to the keyboard.
4. Keyboard - wrist support
The keyboards come in different shapes. From the point of view of ergonomics, the shape is not very important, but the curvature can make it easier to use. More expensive keyboards often have a wrist rest, which makes the transition from desk to keyboard more comfortable and enjoyable.
Some models already have a plastic wrist rest or you can buy it later on. The wrist rest may be a necessary addition for gaming keyboards with high keys. Whether the keyboard has a low or high key, whether they are noisy or not, depends on the personal preference of every customer.
When working with a mouse that is too small, your fingers and wrist are tense.
Your hand rests on the right-sized mouse.
5. Mouse - let your hand rest
Mice can be small and large. So, which one to choose? Laptop mice are smaller because they are designed to be carried around and used for short periods. Larger mice are designed to be used behind a desktop computer and can be difficult to fit in a smaller bag.
"Some customers often think: oh, it's a nice little mouse, I'll take it, but when they put their hand on the mouse, you can immediately see that the hand is in a very strange position and they can't use the mouse effectively," comments Jan. “When working for a long time and constantly with a small mouse, your hands tend to cramp up and you get tension in your fingers”, adds Jan.
Jan suggests that when you feel like your fingers are resting on the mouse and you can reach the buttons without any strain, then that is the perfect mouse for you. So, choose the mouse based on the size of your hand.
Why are some mice vertical? To some extent, this has to do with ergonomics. In most cases, the vertical part of the mouse is inclined towards the right hand, meaning it is intended for right-handed people. The options for left-handed people are very limited. Symmetrical mice are suitable for both hands.
Who needs a mousepad? "An ergonomic mousepad is helpful if, for example, your employer has given you a mouse that is too big for your hand - if you place your hand on the mouse and your fingers don't reach the mouse buttons properly, you'll need a pad that lifts your hand and points your fingers forward". The ergonomic mousepad is also helpful for people with small hands who have to use a larger mouse with more buttons, for example, designers.
Text by: Evelin Kivilo-Paas
Photos by: Aivar Kullamaa