Many people have already had the opportunity to work from home, even before the Covid pandemic changed the way we work. So it will be no surprise that the majority of office workers have a space at home dedicated to working.
Some spaces may be fully kitted with sit-stand desk, executive chair and laptop stand. Others may be a little more economical, involving a kitchen bench and a power point. It is obvious which one is better for a long-term working arrangement, for both your physical health and mental wellbeing.
You don’t have to splash out on the most expensive equipment to keep your health in mind. Try shopping second hand on Gumtree or at Lifeline. For the things you cannot buy second hand, try cheaper online retailers like Kogan.
Here are the basic items you need for your home office setup.
A study desk is ideal but a sit-stand desk it better. A study desk will set you back anything from $20 for a second-hand student desk to $49 for desk from k-mart. Officeworks have office desks for around $200 and sit stand desks range between $200 – $400, depending on whether you go with the top of the range electric option. Kogan isn’t much cheaper than officeworks in the sit-stand desk department.
If there is no option but to use the dining table for a work desk, focus on the chair. Executive chairs have more padding and back support, but always go for the ergonomic option. Buying a second hand chair doesn’t always work out well, because the gas lift cylinders wear over time. A decent chair will set you back around $80-$150.
The top of the computer screen needs to be eye level, so to achieve that we need to put the screen on a stand, including laptops. This of course, works best when you have a keyboard and mouse.
An adjustable laptop stand will cost around $70 from officeworks or Kogan. If that is not an option, go with the book tower. It’s free and literally how it sounds – stack books and make a tower until you get the right height.
There are plenty of cheap keyboards available at standard retailers, which cost between $10 – $40. Wireless is more expensive, as is branded options like Microsoft and Apple.
A standard mouse will cost $15-$30 and ergonomic mouses (mice?) fetch up to $140. I personally found the ergonomic mouse to be uncomfortable and prefer to use a gel mouse pad instead. Go with what works best for you, as I see many clients with repetitive strain injury in the wrist and hand, as a result of a lifetime of mouse use.
It’s hard to remember to exercise or look into the distance when you are caught in the productive zone (or eat lunch sometimes). But these small tasks are the most important for your health in the long-term.
Set an alarm on your phone, apple watch or computer for hourly intervals to stretch, change positions, look into the distance and drink water.
Eye strain is very common amongst office workers and eye drops will prevent your eye sight from deteriorating. As will looking into the distance intermittently.
It is common for feet to not touch the ground when trying to setup the 90 degree angles between elbows and table. Sometimes the chair has to come up higher, so a foot stool will create the 90 degrees for your knees.
Lumbar support cushions will prevent lower back strain and create more comfort when sitting for long periods of time. This could be a specialised lumbar cushion or just some rolled up towels.
A headset will give you the flexibility you need to walk and talk or keep your hands free to type and talk at the same time. It has become a necessary item these days for Zoom conferencing.
Natural light will prevent eye strain. Be sure to have just the right amount and make sure it is not reflected in the computer screen.
Another thing we forget about when working hard, is to stay hydrated. It might seem less necessary as we are not physically exerting ourselves, however we burn energy to think, sit and stand.
Having a designated space for work is more about mental health. It creates boundaries so you can separate work from home and make time allocation clearer, otherwise it is easy to overwork. It will also provide an area which is separate from the rest of the house to avoid distractions.
A healthy body equals a healthy mind, so always be aware of how you hold your body when working. A good posture, supported by strong muscles will help keep your body pain free and your mind free from worries about health.
Make remedial massage a large part of your health maintenance, particularly if you suffer from muscular pain from prolonged sitting or standing. Book a massage with me today!