More of us work from home than ever before. And although most of us spend a considerable amount of time and money keeping our homes looking nice and comfortable, that doesn’t always translate to our home offices. In fact, it’s a good bet that relatively few of us give much thought to our home office décor at all, let alone whether or not the space where we spend so much of our time is ergonomically sound.
In layman’s terms, ergonomics is the practice of ensuring your work space and equipment are adapted for your own maximum comfort and overall good health. Large corporations and even more medium-sized businesses have been taking the ergonomics movement seriously for quite some time now. As well they should. Numerous studies have shown that implementing even the simplest ergonomic practices in the workplace can save companies big bucks when it comes to such critical bottom-line killers as employee healthcare costs, absenteeism and its resultant lost productivity, and overall staff well-being, which ultimately affects such things as morale, level of effort and even loyalty.
The truth is that when you decide to buy a business opportunity or franchise and become your own boss, it’s quite possible that your office will be in your home and right down the hall. If that’s the case, no one else is going to be looking out for your well-being but you. It’s entirely your call when it comes to ensuring your work environment—the one place you spend such an inordinate amount of time each week—is ergonomically sound so that it doesn’t end up making you sick.
Here are some tips to get started making your home office the safe, comfortable and healthy haven it can and should be:
- Your chair matters most of all! Funny that something like a simple chair can make all the difference in your health, but it most certainly can. Your back health, as well as your overall sense of well-being is more affected by how you sit all day long than perhaps anything else. After all, it’s not as if we were created to sit all day! If you spend a lot of time in front of the computer or at a desk, then your chair matters. It must allow you to put your feet flat on the floor, with the lumbar support in the small of your back. It should be completely adjustable with two or three inches between the rounded edge of the chair and your knees. Padded, adjustable arm rests, lumbar support and a good backrest are all musts. Expect to pay $300 and up for a good one, and don’t feel an ounce of guilt about indulging. After all, it’s the one place you spend as much or more time than you do in your bed. And hey, you can also write it off your taxes!
- Desk, meet my chair. Given your health is so tied to what kind of chair you’re sitting in, then it’s really important to make sure your desk suits the chair. First, you need enough space to accommodate your equipment and paperwork within easy reach, and second, you have to be a able to get to everything you need without hunching over, Most importantly, you must be able to sit straight-backed and comfortably in your chair and function easily. Marry your chair and your desk correctly and your body will thank you!
- Watch your monitor. Our eyes were not created to look directly into anything too bright for too long, hence the invention of sun glasses. No surprise then that looking at a computer monitor for hours on end causes all kinds of problems for many people. To minimize the negative effects, try to eliminate any glare coming off your screen, stay about two feet away from it if you can and clean the screen regularly.
- Consider a tray for your keyboard and mouse. Carpal tunnel, tingling fingers and cracking wrist joints are all unpleasant and very real side effects of typing for hours at the wrong angle. Consider installing a tray system if your desk doesn’t have one already, one that allows you to adjust the height of both your key board and mouse. Make sure it’s not so low that you slump or so high that your wrists are reaching and uncomfortable.
- Adjust the lighting in the room. Eyestrain is a common complaint in any workplace, one that can cause very serious problems, such as chronic headaches. It’s important that the lighting in your home office is not too bright. Also, light should be directed at your papers, not your eyes. Keep outdoor light to a minimum, while minimizing the bright light coming from your monitor.
Taking some time to look around your office and figure out where you can make even the most basic ergonomic adjustments will go a long way toward ensuring you enjoy maximum health for many years to come. And remember, being healthy not only means you can get the job done, it also means you get to enjoy the fruits of your labors and play a little bit too.