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Consumers should focus on their workspace and habits while working from home, experts say

Researchers encourage consumers to get up and stretch their legs as often as possible

Photo (c) FreshSplash - Getty Images
With many consumers now working from home for the long haul in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study is highlighting some best practices to make the most of this time at home. 

According to experts from the University of Cincinnati, finding the right chair, putting the computer at the right angle, and taking breaks to walk away from the designated work space are all key for consumers currently working from home. Consumers’ home setups may not allow for the same kind of room or flexibility that their traditional offices offer, but they can still tweak their home arrangements to best work for them while also minimizing the risk of shoulder, back, or neck injuries. 

“The body doesn’t like static postures continually,” said researcher Dr. Kermit Davis. “You don’t want to do all sitting or all standing all the time. You want to alter your position and change it up throughout the day.” 

Making the most of the home set-up

Davis and his team wanted to look at how consumers were creating their work-from-home set-ups, so they surveyed nearly 850 faculty members at the University of Cincinnati after quarantine orders had begun in the area. To accompany the surveys, over 40 employees also sent in pictures of what their work stations looked like at home. 

Based on the photos and survey responses, Dr. Davis says that there are several improvements that consumers should be making to their work-from-home spaces. His main areas of concern were tied to computer monitors/laptops, chairs, and armrests. 

From an ergonomic perspective, the study found that over 50 percent of the survey participants were setting up their computer screens at an angle that’s too low. To optimize comfort and also prevent straining, the researchers recommend propping up the monitor, laptop, or keyboard on a stack of books. 

When it comes to chairs, over 40 percent were found to be too low to the ground. It’s certainly not necessary to spend a ton of money on revamping an entire workspace, but placing a pillow on top of the chair or pulling it closer to the desk can work to ease some of the back pain that could crop up. 

Back support was an issue for many of the participants in the study. Over 70 percent of respondents reported having no lumbar support, while just under 70 percent reported not using their chair’s back support at all. Putting a towel or cushion on the back of the chair can help alleviate some of that stress and promote better posture while sitting in front of a screen all day. 

When it comes to armrests, the researchers were concerned that many participants were using them incorrectly. Having armrests at the wrong angle can cause pain and discomfort, and nearly 20 percent of the participants had incorrectly arranged arm rests. The researchers recommend putting something soft around the armrests to avoid some of this discomfort. 

Getting up more frequently during the day

It can be difficult for consumers to create an ideal set-up in their homes to work from for the large majority of the day. However, one of the biggest things the researchers recommend is not staying in one spot for too long.

Standing desks are encouraged, as they offer flexibility in the home space and give consumers freedom to move around throughout the workday. 

Consumers can see a full rundown of Davis’ suggestions by checking out the full study here

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