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6 Work From Home Ergonomic Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)

When the coronavirus outbreak began and social distancing become the norm, hundreds of millions of workers across the globe transitioned from working at a job site to working from home. More than a year later, it’s fair to say that landscape has permanently changed.

While some offices have opened back up since the height of the pandemic, many employers are still keeping their employees at home, or instituting hybrid work policies that allow employees to continue regular remote work alongside days in the office.

With work-from-home here to stay, making sure your home office has an ergonomic setup is more important than ever. Poor posture can leave you feeling sore and exhausted, not to mention reduce your focus and productivity at work. In some cases, long-term ergonomic issues can even increase your risk of developing chronic health problems, from back pain to cardiovascular issues.

Are you making any of these ergonomic mistakes in your own home office? If so, a few adjustments may be able to dramatically improve your health, happiness, and overall feeling of Zen at work.

RELATED: Why Zen Matters In Your Home Office

Mistake 1: You Have the Wrong Chair (or It Isn’t Adjusted Properly)

High-quality office chairs typically offer many points of adjustment—not just seat height, but also seat depth, armrest height and position, back support, and more.

Those features aren’t just gimmicks. Having a chair that can put your body in the right position for work can make a huge difference at the end of an 8-hour workday.

Unfortunately, a lot of home workers are still using a spare dining chair or other unsuitable seating arrangement in their home office. And even if you do have a nice office chair, it may still be configured improperly.

What’s the Solution?

Although everyone’s tastes will be a little different, here are the basic points of ergonomic office seating:

  • Chair height: The right height should allow your feet are comfortably flat on the ground while keeping your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. If you stand up, turn, and face the chair, the seat should be positioned just below your kneecaps. If you are especially short, it may be helpful to put a footrest in front of the chair so your feet aren’t dangling.
  • Seat depth: There should be about 1-2 inches of space between the front of the seat and the back of your knees.
  • Backrest: Sit up straight in the chair, then adjust the backrest (up, down, backward, forward) as necessary so you feel the lumbar portion of your lower back (also called the “hollow of your back”) supported. If your chair does not have built-in lumbar support, you may consider purchasing a lumbar pillow.
  • Armrests: Ideally, your armrests should be wide and tall enough to allow your arms to rest comfortably at your sides, without any tension in the neck or shoulders, while also keeping your elbow height about level with the work surface. If this is not possible, it’s probably better to not use the armrests at all.
  • Materials: This comes down to personal preference, but in general aim for breathable fabrics that offer good cushioning, without being too soft or too hard.

Good office chairs can be expensive, but if you plan to work from home for an extended period of time, they are an important investment that can pay for themselves through improved productivity and reduced risk of fatigue, injury, and chronic pain.

In the meantime, if you don’t have access to an adjustable office chair just yet, modifications such as cushions, pillows, and footrests can help you position yourself more comfortably.

RELATED: Use Ergonomics to Get More Comfortable at Work

Mistake 2: Your Desk Is the Wrong Height

Here’s a problem you may have noticed while reading about seat height adjustments, or maybe even experienced firsthand after adjusting your chair according to ergonomic principles: your desk itself may be too high or too low!

Worldwide, the height of a typical desk is around 29 inches (73-74cm), give or take an inch or so. Ergonomically speaking, that’s ideal for someone who is around six feet tall. If you happen to be much shorter or taller than that, however, your desk may be too high or too low. (And if you’re working from a 36-inch kitchen counter, you’ll have even more problems!)

What’s the Solution?

If your desk isn’t adjustable, then you’ll need to find the best possible compromise between seat adjustments and desk height in order to sit comfortably without tension. This may require the use of a footrest, particularly if you’re short.

A better solution is to have a height-adjustable desk, like our eZGO collection. Not only will this allow you to fine tune your desk height to the perfect position while seated, but also allows you to switch between sitting and standing—a more comfortable way to work for many.

After properly adjusting your chair for good ergonomics, set your desk height so that your forearms are parallel to the desk surface when using the keyboard and mouse, with the elbows bent at about a 90-100 degree angle.

Mistake 3: Your Screen is Too Low (or Too High)

Most people who work from home do so on a laptop computer, with or without a secondary monitor. While laptops are great at being portable, they’re not really designed with optimal ergonomics in mind.

If your normal approach is to simply set your laptop flat on the desk, you’ll be forced to hunch over your computer, leading to neck and eye strain.

What’s the Solution?

For optimal ergonomics, your eye level should be in line with the top of the screen. This allows you to see everything you need to see clearly without craning your neck uncomfortably. You should also keep the monitor about an arm’s length away from face.

A laptop stand or riser is an essential piece of equipment if you plan to be using the laptop screen regularly. If you have an external monitor, you may have to experiment with different adjustment settings (or even placing it on top of a riser of its own) to get it to the correct height.

Mistake 4: You Aren’t Using an External Keyboard and Mouse

If you’ve read this far, it should be fairly clear that using a laptop in an ergonomically correct position for hours at a time is going to require the use of an external mouse and keyboard. There’s simply no way to use the built-in keyboard and trackpad while keeping your head and neck at the correct angle and the screen at the correct distance from your eyes.

Remember: laptops are made for portability, not ergonomics!

What’s the Solution?

Simple: Get an external mouse and keyboard! To potentially improve ergonomics even further, keep the following in mind:

  • Keep the keyboard straight in front of you, centered with your body.
  • Consider getting a wrist pad to place in front of the keyboard to help support your forearms and keep your wrists straight while you type.
  • Consider an ergonomic keyboard with a curved or split design meant to reduce unnatural arm and finger movements while typing.

Mistake 5: Remaining in One Position for Too Long

Even if your posture is as close to perfect as possible, it’s still not a good idea to remain fixed in the same position too long. Our bodies aren’t designed for it!

In addition to the ergonomic consequences, sitting still for long periods of time day in, day out (i.e., a sedentary lifestyle) can increase your risk of chronic health problems, including obesity, poor circulation, and more.

What’s the Solution?

There are several steps you can take to increase your comfort and improve your overall wellness and health even when working from home.

  • Alternate between sitting and standing. This is another strong argument for investing in an adjustable height desk. Simply switching things up a few times per day—even if it’s only for 30 minutes at a time—can have profoundly positive effects on your health and comfort.
  • Take regular, short breaks. Every 30 minutes or so, get up and take a minute or two to stand, walk around, and stretch your legs. These breaks not only keep your mind focused, but keep your body healthier, too.
  • Move while you work. You don’t have to remain completely still. Wiggling your toes, moving in place, and even doing some light stretching while you sit or stand at your desk helps keep the blood flowing and the mind at peace.

RELATED: How Long Should I Stand Up at My Standing Desk?

Mistake 6: The Room Is Too Dark (or Too Bright)

When it comes to ergonomics, your eyes might not be the first body parts that come to mind. But your eyes need optimal conditions to function, too. And one major contributor to eye strain (and the resulting headaches, fatigue, and other problems that can come with it) is lighting.

If you find that you’re still dealing with aching, tired eyes even after setting up an ergonomic space, poor lighting may be to blame.

What’s the Solution?

In general, you want the brightness in the room to match the brightness coming from your screen. If your monitor appears to be illuminating the surrounding area, your room is probably too dark (or, alternatively, your screen is too bright).

It’s also important to minimize the amount of glare reflecting off your monitor. In general, screens with matte or anti-glare finishes tend to be easier on the eyes, although you do sacrifice some crispness from the image. If your monitor has a glossy screen, try to position it so it’s not reflecting light sources directly into your eyes.

You should also practice the 20/20/20 rule for eye strain at work: Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to focus your eyes on a fixed object that’s at least 20 feet away from you. This “micro-break” for your eyes helps relax eye muscles and reduces strain.

Introducing e-ZGO: Affordable Ergonomic Workspaces for Work From Home

Work-from-home is here to stay, and that means workers everywhere need budget-minded home office solutions that meet their ergonomic needs without compromising on durability or quality.

That’s what you get with e-ZGO. Our newest line of height-adjustable desk frames, e-ZGO was designed specifically with the home office in mind.

RELATED: View the e-ZGO Collection

Standard features include:

  • Slim design to fit tight spaces in home office settings
  • Accommodates most common tabletop sizes from 24” x 48” to 30” x 60”
  • UL 962 certification for household and commercial furnishings to meet electrical, flammability, and personal injury safety requirements.
  • 3 Memory positions for ease of adjustment
  • Anti-collision detection
  • Gyroscope safety technology
  • Easy assembly and installation

With eZGO, you have the performance of an industrial office desk, tailored to your home office needs.

Thanks to ZGO Solutions, Working From Home Has Never Felt Better

Led by a Danish designer, a Chinese engineer, and American businessman, ZGO Solutions is a global company with a unique approach to designing beautiful, functional, and sustainable products that bring productivity, balance, and Zen to any workspace, including your home office.

To learn more about how ZGO Solutions can help you or your employees improve their workplace ergonomics or performance—in the office or at home—please feel free to review our website, complete our simple online contact form, or call your nearest regional office. We look forward to speaking with you!


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