Making a home workstation comfortable
Refer to these tips to make your home workstation more comfortable and avoid health issues when working.
To make our stations more comfortable many of us are improvising and using what we have around the home.
Setting up a desk or table
Firstly, it is preferable to always sit at a desk or a table when using your laptop rather than on the sofa.
Seated height may need to be adjusted depending on the height of the table or desk.
If possible, select a chair which has a high back rest which will help support your back. Depending on the height of your table /desk you may need to use cushions or pillows to raise your seated height and / or support your back.
If your feet do not comfortably reach the floor there are many items around our homes which we can substitute for both a footrest and screen stand. Think about using books, boxes, plastic containers.
The keyboard and mouse on the edge of the desk/table your upper back should remain down and relaxed, elbows bent to 90-degree angles and fore arms parallel to the floor with knees slightly lower than hips.
Standing set-up using a kitchen bench or high bookshelf
Look for a countertop which can safely fit your laptop, keyboard and mouse. Ensure your upper back and shoulders remain down and relaxed with forearms parallel to the floor. It is better to have a surface which is slightly lower than elbows (when standing relaxed).
Raise the laptop using a plastic container, books adjusting as needed to optimal height. Use a mat to provide added cushioning when standing, do not stand still.
Screen Height and Distance
Laptops screen height should allow natural neck position. As above use books, containers to achieve required height, (eye level upper third of the screen. Ideally the screen should be less than arm’s length from your eyes. Try and ensure there is no glare on the screen.
No matter whether standing or sitting staying in the same position and using the same muscles for hours at a time is not good for your back or neck. Use outlook or another tool to set an alarm to remind you to take breaks. There are also a number of useful apps which you could down load to your phone.
Looking at a computer screen for extended periods causes some changes in how your eyes work, including blinking less often and exposing more of the eye surface to air. Every 15 minutes, briefly look away from the computer screen for a minute or two to a more distant scene, preferably something more than 5 metres away. This lets the muscles inside the eye relax. Also, blink your eyes rapidly for a few seconds. This refreshes the tear film and clears dust from the eye surface.
Micro-breaks are less than two minutes long and perfect to do between bouts of typing. Most people type in bursts rather than continuously. Between these bursts of activity, rest your hands in a relaxed, flat, straight posture. Though micro-breaks are short, you can stretch, stand up, move around, or do a different work task (such as make a phone call).
A micro-break isn't necessarily a break from work, but it's a break from using a set of muscles (such as the finger flexors if you're doing a lot of typing).
Every 30 to 60 minutes, take a brief rest break. During this break, stand up, move around, and do something else, walk away from your workstation, get a drink. If possible take a walk outside. This allows you to rest and exercise different muscles, and you'll feel less tired.
There are many streaching and gentle exercises you can do to help relieve muscle fatigue. You should do these every one to two hours.
Links to other resources
HabitAtWork is an educational tool promoting self-help and problem solving for preventing and managing discomfort, pain and injury.
Learn more and assess yourself by choosing your work environment.
Last Updated: Mar 2020
Next Review: Mar 2023
Approver: Associate Director, Health Safety & Wellbeing