Your Home Office is an Ergonomic Disaster. Here’s How to Fix It.

April 9, 2020 4 Minute Read


As many of us enter our third or fourth week of remote work, a new pain point is emerging – and it’s in our backs, necks and wrists.

Though some workers are lucky enough to have an ergonomically designed at-home office, many are using makeshift workspaces like the kitchen table or, yes, the couch.

While in the short-term these set-ups won’t cause lasting harm, the pain of a poorly designed workspace will soon start to make itself felt.

Those working-from-home should follow ergonomic best practices as closely as possible to avoid stiff muscles and potential injuries.

Meanwhile, companies must consider how to support the health of their remote employees during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

Read on for CBRE’s breakdown of everything you need to know about at-home ergonomics.

Your Home Office Ergonomic Disaster. Here’s How to Fix It

Why Are Ergonomics Important?

You might not put much thought into the height of your monitor or the back of your office chair, but someone else has.

Having an ergonomically designed workspace spares employees from everything from lower back pain to wrist injuries and eye strain.

That’s why most offices have been carefully designed by professionals with employee wellbeing in mind.

While your home office’s dangers might not be obvious at first glance, you’ll likely start to feel the impact on your body in a few weeks.

“Two weeks of working with less than desirable seating, desk and keyboard height can create major physical discomfort, and in some cases injuries,” says Lisa Fulford-Roy, Senior Vice President and Head of CBRE’s Canadian Workplace Strategy Practice. “With everyone working from home, ergonomics needs to be top of mind.”

Your Home Office Ergonomic Disaster. Here’s How to Fix It

Temporary Fixes

While nothing will replace a professionally designed workspace, there are simple things each of us can do to improve our at-home workstations.

First, work with a separate keyboard and monitor whenever possible. If you must work from a laptop, consider adding an external keyboard and placing your laptop at monitor height, to prevent your neck from bending while you work. You can do this with a laptop stand, or a simple stack of books.

If you’re working at a desk or table, keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your wrists at table height. But don’t be afraid to get up and move throughout the day.

Consider standing or pacing to take phone calls, sitting crossed legged on the floor to write or even lying flat on your back for a few minutes when listening to audio files.

Break up dedicated work time with on-your-feet tasks like making lunch or going for a walk around the block.

The most important thing is to ensure you’re not sitting in a single position throughout the day – and yes, that means you’ll have to stop working non-stop from your couch.

Your Home Office Ergonomic Disaster. Here’s How to Fix It

The Future of Home Ergonomics

Now is the perfect time for companies to review the quality of their remote employees’ workspaces.

After the COVID-19 crisis, it’s likely that some organizations will expand their remote workforce, while others will continue to maintain a few dedicated remote employees.

“Some companies might decide that people should have an allowance to purchase the equipment they need to work safely from home for extended periods, whether it’s a dual screen or a proper desk chair,” says Fulford-Roy.

“It will be interesting to see the different allocations of funding for those who truly do work-from home and how well set up they are.”

Now that company executives have experienced working from home, Fulford-Roy believes they may have greater empathy for their remote employees.

“That could lead to an investment in better workspaces for those who work from home either permanently or on occasion.”

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