Working from home in Corona time

In this Corona pandemic, the cabinet urges us to work from home as much as possible. But at home we often don’t have the workplace as well organized as at work. Although the employer is always responsible for a good workplace (duty of care at work, but also at home), it appears that we often have to improvise at home.

Working from home

FNV, the Dutch Labour Union, recently conducted a research into the health situation of people working from home. This survey shows that 41% of home workers more often suffer from physical complaints (shoulder, neck, back, arm) than before. That’s a pretty high percentage. Many of these complaints can be prevented by good posture and proper movement.

Other research shows that we as “modern people” nowadays sit an average of 12-16 hours a day! This concerns both work and private life. Sitting is also called the new smoking. In addition to sitting, we notice in practice that people often adopt the wrong posture when they stand, walk, drive and even use the phone.

Tips for healthy working from home

Here are some tips and advices for working home in a responsible way. More advice for a good posture and a healthy way of moving can be found at Posture and Movement

1. Discipline (like at work)
  • Act like you are going to work. Therefore, observe the working hours as much as possible.
  • Dress as usual when you go to work.
  • Make arrangements with family members / housemates about the daily schedule.
  • Reserve a permanent place and arrange this place for your work as much as possible.
  • Leave your TV off and don’t play any games during your relaxing moments.  You don’t do that at work either, it provides the wrong distraction and energy, and undermines your daily discipline.
  • Actually end the day by switching off the PC / Laptop and cleaning up the workplace.
2. Siting at the work table
  • Place your feet flat on the floor, keep your back straight and let your shoulders hang down relaxed.
  • Sit with your buttocks as far back in the back of the chair as possible.
  • Do not sit with your legs crossed. This can interrupt blood circulation.
  • Do not turn your sofa or bed into a workplace. It beckons of course and it looks relaxed, but it is disastrous for your posture, which means that you quickly develop additional complaints.
  • Position your work table in such a way that you do not look directly into daylight. The contrast with your screen is too great and that is extremely tiring.
3. Ergonomic working position
  • Make sure that both your chair and your desk / table are ergonomically adjusted and tailored to your personal situation:
    • Adjust your chair so that your feet can be flat on the floor;
    • Seat height: Your pelvis should be slightly higher than your knees;
    • Seat depth: A fist should fit between the chair seat and your knees;
    • The bulge at the bottom of the seat back should start just above your waist belt;
    • The top of your table is the height of your elbows;
    • The top of your screen is at viewing height;
    • The viewing distance is an arm’s length between the screen and your eyes;
    • There is enough space for your mouse (movements).
  • If the table is too high or the chair too low, take a small cushion and place it on your chair so that you sit slightly higher. Make sure that your knees do not come out higher than your pelvis. If necessary, also use a footrest.
  • If the table is too low, put bobbins under the legs.
  • If you work with a laptop or PC (and who doesn’t nowadays?) Make sure that the mouse and keyboard are close enough so that your elbows and forearms can rest relaxed on arm rest of the chair and / or table. This creates a more relaxed neck and shoulder area.
  • If you use a laptop, make sure that it is properly and ergonomically adapted to your needs. Then use a laptop support, a stack of books or a shoe box to bring the laptop to the correct height.
  • Do you work a lot with documents? Then provide a document holder.
4. Phone and video calls
  • If you have to make a phone call, stand up or walk a bit in the meantime.
  • If necessary, take notes while standing. You then have to bend over and come to a completely different position.
  • Make calls hands-free as much as possible (with ‘earphones’ or on the speaker). You then have your hands free and you can easily do mobility and stretching exercises at the same time. Be aware and try to avoid hat!
  • You might call a colleague regularly, even if it is for a social chat. You also do that at work and it can give some relaxation.
  • A video call is exhausting. Everyone tends not only to look at the other persons, but also pay attention to themselves (what do I look like? Do I get a favorable picture? Etc.).
  • Make sure there is sufficient light and a quiet background for a video call.
  • For video calls with larger groups or teams, appoint one person who can mute / unmute the participants (en masse and individually).
5. Regular relaxation
  • Take regular short breaks (every 20 minutes). Do not look at the screen then, but rather (completely relaxed) in the distance.
  • Do a number of simple mobility and stretching exercises in those short breaks:
    • Interlock your fingers and push one hand down / back with the other hand. Alternate regularly and rotate your wrists loosely;
    • Take a very deep breath, shrugging your shoulders; Exhale and lower your shoulders again. Keep your arms hanging loosely next to your body;
    • Sit or stand upright and pull your shoulder blades back and down, and forward and up again;
    • Cross your arms and stretch your elbows forward. Make the back as convex as possible.
    • Place your forearm and your hand flat on the table. Then make a fist and raise your hand as far as possible. Your forearm does not move with it. Then lay your hand flat again;
    • Sit or stand upright and slowly turn your head as far to the left as possible and slowly back again. Then turn to the right.
    • Make relaxed circles (left, top, right, bottom) with your head;
    • Shake your hands and arms quite loose, lowering the shoulders as much as possible;
  • Do everything just the opposite. For example: when using the mouse, your palm is down. Then turn your hand over regularly.
  • Take a break from your workplace. Get a drink. A few minutes away from your workplace is more than enough.
  • Take enough time at noon for a healthy lunch.
  • Go outside for a walk at noon and at the end of the day.
  • If you haven’t already, install a special program on your computer that will automatically remind you of a short break.
  • With Yoga exercises you can create space in your spine and stimulate its flexibility.

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