Last month I spoke with, Carlee Ackland, an Ergonomics Consultant and Exercise Physiologist, at GHD in Perth, WA, who has been working at home since the COVID-19 shutdown. Carlee has provided some advice that she has found most beneficial.
If you are lucky enough to be working from home, or in any office environment, I have compiled a list of a few essential tips to help you improve your level of comfort, increase productivity, reduce pain and tension, and hopefully improve your understanding of office ergonomics.
If you are working from home, hopefully your employer has provided you with some information about how to set this up. If not, click here
for the guidelines recommended by WorkSafe Victoria. Also, click here
to complete the Australian Government's working from home checklist.
Carlee's recommendation is to try to build a permanent workspace, or have an area of your home you will work from. The experience for her “has reinforced the importance of good office equipment
” and “a set up that finds a balance between comfort, efficiency and productivity
Change it up
Most likely, your home office isn't perfect. But that is fine. Always start with the recommended ergonomic guidelines, however, do some trial and error on what FEELS best for you.
So how long should I sit for?
A consensus of the perfect positioning for the body when working in an office environment over an hour period is to sit for 40 minutes of that, stand for 15 minutes, and walk or move for 5 minutes.
Carlee has found a good way to apply this at home is to make your posture task related. For example, Carlee recommends “mixing it up! For document writing, be comfortably seated at your desk; when checking emails, try standing with your laptop on the kitchen bench; or walk while on telephone calls around the house/block
Have you ever heard the phrase "motion is lotion
"? This means quite simply that moving your body is the best lotion or therapy for lengthening shortened or tense muscles, and to mobilise and lubricate stiff or restricted joints.
Please take some time during the day to complete some stretches or go for a walk. This will help refresh your energy levels and allow you to come back focused and ready to take on the next task! Our website has some postural stretches that maybe beneficial to you http://www.launcestonosteopathy.com.au/exercise
All chairs are not created equal. So a comfortable, adjustable chair (for height and angle) is recommended. You should feel comfortable when sitting, just don't get too comfortable and sit for too long.
Carlee’s top recommendation is to get your office chair set up first, and if you need help – seek it out. “It is important to find the balance between comfort, efficiency and productivity”
Be mindful or set reminders
If you can ‘check-in
’ with yourself and listen to your body when it needs a break - that is fantastic. However, most people will benefit from having a reminder pop-up set up on your computer, an alarm on your phone or even a post-it note reminding you to MOVE.
Are you getting it now? Movement will help alleviate any discomfort in your neck, shoulders, or low back better than anything else. Movement also promotes circulation, mental alertness and it is exercise!
How is your mental health
Please talk to your supervisor if you are feeling isolated working from home, or seek professional help www.lifeline.org.au
If you require more assistance or are getting some pain and discomfort, please seek a professional opinion. Contact your local osteopath, physiotherapist, exercise physiologist or chiropractor who can provide you with hands on treatment for pain relief, give specific ergonomic advice and prescribe exercises to prevent the pain and discomfort coming back.
There are also Ergonomics Consultants like Carlee, who can assist with setting up your home office (via video link); and provide simple solutions to avoid discomfort; and maximize your productivity and efficiency specific to you and your job role.
Marshall Anderson is a Launceston-based osteopath and Pilates instructor,
and Clinic Director at Bodyfocus.
Working as an osteopath, I have continued to see patients face-to-face in our clinic. We have also been conducting Telehealth appointments, however, for these I have still been coming into our clinic.