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How can I create an effective work-at-home office?
Great question! Here are my top tips, based on working exclusively from a home office for nearly twenty years.
- Find a separate space with a door that closes. Yes, you can work on the dining room table but you’re going to be distracted by your spouse, kids, pets, etc. A separate space will give you some peace and quiet and will shield you – and your housemates – from noise when you’re talking on the phone or participating in a Zoom meeting.
- Get two monitors. Having a second monitor is life-changing and I can’t imagine doing any serious work with it.
- Make sure you have a great Internet connection. You’re going to be spending a lot of time in front of your computer and you don’t want to wait while files upload and download, or for frequent outages to correct themselves.
- Get a hi-rez web camera and a good external microphone. Depending on your workspace, a headphone with a boom mic might be a good option as well.
- Check your Zoom background and lighting. A cluttered background or a bright window can be very distracting to the people with whom you’re Zooming. Make sure you’re lit from in front rather than behind – which can wash out your face entirely.
- Get rid of the clutter. We all have enough distractions and it’s hard to concentrate when your desk is covered with pens, papers, staplers, tchotchkes, etc.
Dave Archer is President / CEO of NCET
How do I improve my home workspace so that my back and neck don’t hurt?
Working at home doesn’t have to hurt, if you practice some basic ergonomic practices.
Wherever you’re sitting:
- Sit tall and straight to maintain three curves— neck, upper and lower back.
- Keep your feet flat and even, and don’t cross your legs.
- Forearms should be supported by the desk/work surface or chair arms.
You don’t need an expensive office chair to have good ergonomics, but you do need one that supports good posture and helps you employ the rule of 90s:
- Chair height should enable you to have feet flat and knees at 90˚ — you can use a footrest to adjust for this
- Maintain 90˚ at the hips and elbows
- If the chair doesn’t support your lower back’s curve, place a rolled towel or small pillow behind your lower back
Here are a few other things to consider:
- Use a stable work surface at the right height to maintain correct posture.
- Your lap is rarely a good position for a computer, but it is improved by use of a lap desk.
- Don’t lay on a bed or the floor to work on the computer, as this strains your neck and lower back.
As sitting for too long isn’t healthy, you’ll want to get up every 20 to 30 minutes and walk around. You can use this time to unload your laundry, water your plants or take the dog for a walk. Your pets and your home will thank you, but you’ll probably get the most gratitude from your body.
Dr. Joel Peck is the director of physical therapy at Great Basin Orthopaedics. He is board certified as an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist and certified in dry needling. For more information, visit www.GreatBasinOrtho.com.
NCET is Northern Nevada’s largest member-supported non-profit that produces educational and networking events to help people explore businesses and technology. (www.NCET.org)