Several companies have extended work-at-home rules and it looks like many of us will be working from home at least for the next year. It’s time to talk about a problem that is hardly addressed: having a pain in the neck. Working from home has introduced new problems that challenge proper ergonomics.
For instance, your furniture at home is not designed for work. And so unless your employers are fitting your homes with offices, chances are you are sitting down each day to work on that couch or dining table you bought ten years ago. And while those are excellent for entertaining guests or enjoying movies, they may also be causing severe neck pain.
What can you do to prevent neck pain while you work from home? In this post, we’ll talk about common mistakes people make as they work from home that can lead to neck pain and its associated problems.
How working at home is causing pain in the neck
Check your eyes
Our eyes are not designed to stare at a screen for 8-10 hours a day. Yet, for most of us, this is the reality. Between getting on Zoom calls to completing our assigned projects, it is easy to be glued to a computer screen all day.
The problem with that is:
- Overexposure to blue light which can interrupt your sleep as well.
- You may be forced to strain your eyes to look at objects on your screen. When people strain their eyes, it is also common that they stretch their necks to have a closer look at their screens without thinking much about it. You may be unintentionally doing this and causing neck pain.
When you get your eyes checked, chances are you will receive prescription glasses or contact lenses that will help you see better. Better sight means less straining and that reduces the probability for neck pain.
Your eye doctor may also prescribe glasses that block blue light. This will help with reducing the effects of blue light on your health.
Working from the couch is fun but not helpful
By now, many of us may have come to the realization that working from your couch is fine for about 10 minutes. Your couch is not designed for you to work in. It was designed for you to relax in.
Thus, when you work on your laptop computer on your couch, chances are that you are looking down at your screen as you work. This strains your neck and ultimately on your back.
If you must work from your couch, elevate the computer you’re working on so that it is at your eye level. When you work on a couch, it is easy to get twisted in awkward positions as you work. Avoid a twisted position as you work from your couch!
A standing desk is helpful…if you have space for it
If you have the space for it, a standing desk is helpful. A lot of standing desks can also be adjusted down so you can sit down while you work.
So you don’t have to worry about standing all day long! A standing desk will relieve your back and neck of the stress that happens as a result of sitting for long periods of time.
They currently do cost a lot of money. If you’re a company that provides office equipment for your employees, this could be one way to support employee wellness as they work from home.
Get a document holder
If you work with several documents during the course of your day, get a document holder. Instead of looking down to read these documents, use a document holder to hold them up in front of you for a more comfortable reading posture.
Watch your phone use
The average US adult spends 2 hours and 55 minutes on their smartphones a day. This includes answering and making phone calls, using social media, using rideshare apps and shopping online.
Chances are that you will be doing the same throughout your workday – looking at a small screen with your neck bent.
Here are a few tips on making sure that your phone use is not contributing to neck pain and its associated problems.
- When you make or receive calls, use a Bluetooth headset or earphones. This reduces how much you hold your phone and bend your neck when you speak on the phone.
- Practice turning your phone off for an hour of interrupted work time. You will be less distracted by notifications on your phone and you will get more done.
- When your workday is over, choose a time to put your phone in airplane mode. This frees your evening up so you are not brooding over your phone but enjoying time with loved ones or spending the time doing activities that relax and rejuvenate you.