During the past month as many work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNM staff, faculty, and students have moved to a reality where working from home is currently the new norm. For some, proper office space and equipment could be limited in the home environment. Many times, a desk doubles as a dining space with only a laptop to work with.
Ergonomics is the idea of fitting a task to the capabilities of the human body. Remember the acronym N-E-W when setting up your work space.
N - neutral posture. To maintain a neutral posture the neck should be straight, shoulders straight, elbows at right angles, wrists straight, and the lower back supported against a chair back or pillow.
E - Eyes and elbow height. The top of the monitor should be at or below the eye level and the elbows are in line with the home row keys of the keyboard.
W - Work area. Keep items used often in the primary work zone so you are not reaching repetitively.
Here are some basic ergonomic ideas for working at home at the kitchen table with your computer or laptop:
Sturdy but comfortable chair:
- Foam seat cushion for comfort, support and to raise the height of your chair
- Add a footrest for leg and foot support (i.e. small box or old textbooks)
Raise the height of your monitor or laptop:
- Use textbooks or small box as a to raise your monitor or laptop height (remember your laptop requires ventilation from the bottom to keep it cool; try using a baking rack to allow air circulation)
- Distance from the screen or laptop should be 18 to 33 inches, or arm length (stretched out) so the figure tips are barely touching the center of your monitor screen
- Use an external keyboard and mouse. (For hand and wrist support, use a rolled up-lengthwise-face towel as keyboard rest and small rolled-up washcloth as mouse rest).
Working on the laptop at the table:
- For hand and wrist support, use a rolled up-lengthwise-face towel as a keyboard rest
Helpful ergonomic links for working at home:
- UNM SRS: Ergonomics guidelines
- UNM SRS: Ergonomics PowerPoint
- OSHA E-tools (computer work stations)