Home office

Home office - Ergonomics

Working from home can offer a few challenges, and a health risk in terms of both physical and mental health. There’s also a huge difference between working from home when needed, and doing it full time. Below are a few tips for creating a safe and good work situation at home.

Norsk versjon: Hjemmekontor - ergonomi

Remember that you can always contact Occupational Health Services if you need to talk to someone.

Ergonomics in your home office #

Some have a proper work station at home, with a desk, a good chair, an external screen and a keyboard and mouse, while others don’t have an office space, and have to work on their laptop. A disadvantage of working in the kitchen or living room at home, is that the tables and chairs aren’t as adjustable as the ones in your office.  

A laptop is a great tool in meetings, when travelling and for short work sessions at home. However, working on a laptop permanently can cause challenges for your neck, shoulders, arms and back.

For those who have their own work station at home, the same principles apply as for the campus workplace. 

If you are working from home over time, and you have to use your kitchen or living room table, it is important that you find an optimal working position. It might not be perfect, but try to adapt your work station as best you can. 

How to set up a good work station in your kitchen or living room #

  • Chair: Use a comfortable chair. Make sure your back is in good contact with the backrest.
  • Table: If the table you are using is too high, you can put a pillow on your chair to get higher. To reduce the stress on your neck and shoulders, it is important that your forearms can rest on the table. You elbows should be in an approx. 90 degree angle when your arms rest on the table. Use a small box as a footrest if you can’t reach the floor with your feet. 
  • Lighting: You should have daylight coming in from the side to avoid reflexes and blinding.
  • Screen, keyboard and mouse: 
    • Screen: If you work in front of a laptop screen, you need to be aware that the screen is small, too close and too low! If you have access to an external keyboard and mouse, you can place the laptop on a stack of books, a box or a laptop stand to elevate the screen to a better working height. This will also allow you to increase the distance to the screen a little. 
    • Keyboard: The keyboard should be placed 15–20 cm from the table’s edge, to allow your forearms to rest on the table. 
    • Mouse: If you are using a regular computer mouse, you should place it right next to the keyboard, or between the keyboard and your body, to avoid a working position that puts stress on your shoulder muscles. It is also possible to use a Rollermouse or Mousetrapper for a more centred working position. 
  • Because the screen is smaller than what you are used to, it can be a good idea to zoom in to increase the readability. You can combine CTRL and +/- to adjust the zoom setting while viewing a webpage. Avoid leaning forward to read what’s on the screen.

While working #

  • It is important to vary your working position and tasks. 
  • If you work on a small screen, you should take breaks more often than you would working on a regular screen. Work for 30 minutes, then take a short break.  Get up from your chair, move around, stretch, and roll your shoulders to increase the blood flow in tired muscles.
  • Let your back rest against the backrest. You should lean slightly backward in a relaxed position, rather than leaning to much forward. You arms should rest on the table, but you should not be putting weight on them; don’t use your arms to “hang” on the table. This will put unnecessary stress on your neck and shoulder muscles.
  • Relax your fingers when you’re not typing.
  • If you need glasses, use them.
  • Move the screen a bit closer to you if it’s too far away – not the other way around. You ears should be in line with your shoulders, not ahead of them.
  • Movement can often spark creativity.

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