Through the challenges we’re facing during this new “work from home” era, we are now acknowledging the need to transition our mindset from this is a “temporary” model to one that thinks of this as “long-term temporary”. Instead of waking up, rolling through Starbucks, and heading into the office, we now may find ourselves waking up, debating on whether it’s a pants or no pants day, and heading to whichever couch you left your laptop on. While this “routine” may suffice for a week or so, it’s not a sustainable working lifestyle for the long-term.
While lying on the couch, or sitting in your favorite cushy armchair may sound like a dreamy work scenario, this is not ideal for home office ergonomics and can also be detrimental to overall mental health. A simple way to remember how to optimize efficiency while working from home is to make sure you are N-E-S-T-ing.
N– Neutral Positioning:
While in a seated position, ensure that your neck and wrists are straight, and your arms are hanging straight down from your shoulders. Your back should be straight, and your knees bent at 90 degrees. Try to avoid leaning back and hunching forward as much as possible.
E- Eyes and Elbows:
Right angles are essential for relieving tension. Best practices for your keyboard, mouse, and monitor position– Try for elbows at a right angle, and the monitor slightly below level. Make a small adjustment to this positioning and you will notice the amount of tension your neck typically endures… sometimes for an entire workday!
When organizing your workspace, make the most-used work accessories and necessities easily accessible and within reach. Tasks are accomplished smoothly and with less effort when you have all of the available resources. Also, make an effort to have good lighting! (natural if possible). Not only is it important to have good lighting in regards to eye strain and video chatting, but it can also have an effect on your mood and energy levels! Sit near a window, and “treat yo’self” to that Vitamin D.
T- Taking breaks and Transitions:
Remember to move around, take meetings while standing, and eat AWAY from your workspace. Set alerts on your calendar or phone to remind you to stay active and give your eyes and mind small breaks throughout the day. Transition in/out of work– “Mr. Roger’s routine”. Create transitions into work whether this looks like a morning jog and coffee before revving the laptop, or Lucky Charms with the family before logging on. Create transitions out of work– whether this looks like logging out of your organization’s chat platforms and closing your laptop, or playing the Flinstone’s quitting whistle and heading to the kitchen to start dinner, it’s important to create these routines. It’s healthy to create boundaries and separation between work and life, especially when they both occur under the same roof.
Most importantly remember that we’re all in this together. We’re creating the “new normal” so there’s no roadmap for what that may look like. Some workdays may still happen from the couch, but as long as we’re making strides to be better and do better for our minds and bodies, the new normal may wind up looking like perfect posture and at-home efficiency before we know it.