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All of a sudden, like thousands of people around the globe, you find yourself working from home every day. Maybe you took over the kitchen table, had to dust off your desk or - sigh! – established residence on the living room couch. After a week (or two…), your back might be hurting, and your productivity might have decreased, and it’s now time to reimagine your workspace. Or maybe this is not new to you at all. You’ve worked from home for years, but need a little upgrade, or just want to review the basics.
Making sure you are in a comfortable, healthy workspace while keeping you productive is our raison d’être. So, we want to help you create an environment that will boost your energy and motivation, an active workstation you will thrive in, one that will last. Whether you are looking to invest in quality furniture and accessories, or need tips to DIY your way to a functional home office, here is our advice for creating an ergonomic and productive workspace.
Adjusting your desk' height
The ideal desk height is dependent on your body measurements. It is, therefore, important to check in with yourself to make sure your work surface is the appropriate height. Here is what to look for:
- Your elbows should be bent at a 90-degree angle and be at the same height as your desk.
- Your arms should hang loosely near your torso, with most of the forearms on the desk or the chair’s armrests.
- Your wrists should be straight in front of you and remain in a neutral vertical position.
Kitchen tables are often too high, and traditional desks are mostly designed at a height ideal for writing, not typing. Our sit-stand desks aim to tackle this exact problem. With an easy one-touch adjustment, you can set up your desk at the perfect height for your height and body type. Take a look at our guide to help you use our sit-stand desks correctly.
Already have a desk surface you love? You can get the adjustable Ergo frame, which supports most tops and allows you to build your sit-stand desk. If you are not ready to invest in an adjustable desk just yet, there are simple hacks that can help you elevate your desk. You can either modify the top by adding wood, plastic or other materials over your current desk to increase its height, or add risers or solid blocks under the legs of your desks – but make sure it stays steady and safe!
Sitting comfortably at your desk is one of the most crucial aspects of a health-conscious work environment. Being sure you have a good chair and footrest, if needed, should be a priority when it comes to setting up a home office. Here are a few pointers:
- Your thighs need to be parallel to the floor, with your knees bent so your legs are at a 90-degree angle and steer clear of the desktop.
- Your feet should be flat on the floor or a footrest.
- Your armrests must slightly touch your forearms, but allow room for your shoulders to be relaxed (if they don’t allow this, you can remove them altogether).
- Your back should be supported by the chair, preferably with adjustable lumbar support.
- The seat pan needs to be the appropriate length to support your thighs without hitting the back of your knees and at least one inch wider than your hips on either side.
You can adjust the chair you use at home by adding a cushion for height and a rolled towel for lumbar support. You can also use a small stool or books as a footrest. But for best results, we’ve partnered with Allseating to offer you an ergonomic chair that fits all these criteria. But careful, while a good chair will help you keep back pain at bay, it is essential that you also practice good posture. Click here for a few tips from our team to help you prevent back pain.
Next step: take care of your eyes, head, and neck by making sure your monitor’s placement is optimal. Here is what to look for:
- Your monitor needs to be at an arm’s length distance from you.
- Your eyes should be vis-à-vis the address bar of an internet browser page, so your head is in a straight, neutral position.
- The screen should be straight in front of you, protecting your neck from unnecessary torsion.
- Place your monitor perpendicular to, and about a meter and a half away from, a source of natural light (or any bright light source).
To facilitate this, we created a monitor stand and a desk shelf to elevate your screen(s) to the perfect height to prevent neck strain. If you are working on a laptop, try our laptop stand, or consider buying an independent keyboard and mouse, or an auxiliary screen to prop on a stand. In the meantime, you can try stacking books or boxes to support your monitor or laptop.
Want additional protection for your eyes? Try blue light protection glasses from our gift guide! And remember to practice the 20-20-20 rule: after 20 minutes of looking at your screen, look at something 20 feet (ca. 6 m) away for 20 seconds, or get up and move a little.
We believe movement should be a fundamental part of your workday. After all, we are built to move! This can include small stretches to prevent back pain and short walks to get the blood flowing, but the ultimate way we include movement in our workday is by using a standing desk. Standing desks have been shown to increase productivity and lower back pain (psst: you burn a few more calories too!). Here are a few tips to make the most out of them:
- Alternate between sitting and standing every 20-30 minutes.
- Make sure you follow the guidelines mentioned above for your desk height and monitor placement. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
- Use an anti-fatigue mat to prevent tiredness.
- Keep your posture in check.
Our sit-stand desks allow you to program 2 different heights to make the switch from standing to sitting easily. While somewhat more complicated, you can also DIY a standing desk at home before investing in one: create height by stacking books, boxes, or adding a small shelf on your desk. No anti-fatigue mat? Make sure you wear comfortable shoes with proper support and alternate which foot you put your weight on, either by doing it consciously or by using a small footrest to elevate one foot at a time.
Do some corrective exercises
In addition to getting moving, think about adding a few corrective exercises to your routine to counteract long workdays. Moving regularly will redistribute the stress on the different tissues of the body. It is, however, important to also activate the deep muscular system that will allow you to support your positions without too much effort and, above all, not to overload the so-called "tonic" muscles. The latter tend to do all the stabilizing work and thus become chronically short. In the long term, this could create orthopaedic problems.
It is essential to do the stretching first and then do the corrective exercise afterwards. Stretching will "deactivate" the overloaded muscle, and the exercise will teach the body how to maintain the ideal posture using the right muscles. Here is a stretch/exercise duo to use during your long working days.
Stretching the scalene muscles (video)
1. Sit at the end of a chair and grab the edge of the chair.
2. Lower your shoulder and extend your head toward the ceiling.
3. Keeping your head in the initial axis (do not rotate), lean towards the opposite side of the hand, grasping the chair while exhaling.
4. Do three (3) stretches of 15 to 20 seconds per side every hour.
Tip: It is important to relax while stretching; we are trying to stretch the envelope of the muscle and not the muscle itself. If you force the stretch too much, the tissue will try to contract.
Activation of the upper back muscles (video)
1. Lie face down on the floor or a yoga mat.
2. Tuck your chin in and make sure you feel the muscles in the front of your neck.
3. Begin the movement by lowering and bringing the shoulder blades towards each other; the arms will then follow by rising. Note that it is important not to lift only the arms without movement of the shoulder blades.
4. Hold the position at the top of the movement for 4 seconds.
5. Reverse the movement. Make sure the shoulder blades "slide" across the rib cage and away from each other.
6. Perform two (2) sets of 12-15 repetitions 2-3 times a day.
Tip: Relax your arms and stretch your upper back muscles before starting the movement.
In general, it is better to do a simple exercise in the right way than to undertake an overly complex one using the wrong mechanics.
The exercise recommendations are from Julien Couvrette, founder of Studio Synergex: a new concept high-end training space located in Laval. It links therapy and training. You can benefit from exceptional supervision that will ensure that you reach your goals while enjoying a luxurious space all to yourself.
The best workstation is one that would allow you to work in the most neutral body position to create the least amount of strain. The adjustability of your workspace is, therefore, crucial to a healthy environment. We believe that with the appropriate desk height, an option for standing, a comfortable chair, and a monitor stand, you are creating an active and ergonomic space to make the most out of your workday.
Now that you have the ergonomics down, here are few links to help further ease your transition into the WFH (work from home) life:
- Keep your desktop organized with these
Learn how and why music can help you stay focused and distraction-free - tips for staying on top of your mental health and productivity at home.
We want to know: how are you adjusting your workspace at home?
- Laughlin K., (1999). Stretching and flexibility. Pymble: Simon and Schuster
- Chek P. (2004). How to eat, move and be healthy. San Diego: C.H.E.K institute
- Frederick and Frederick (2006).Stretch to win. Champaign. IL. Human Kinetics