Tips for Creating an Ergonomic Home Office for Remote Work


As an employee, you’ve likely had the opportunity to work from home in recent years. As an employer, chances are you’ve offered an employee to continue their duty off-site. The idea of a home office has always been around, but the option to work at home has become more prevalent since the quarantine era of 2020. As the popularity of remote work among employers and employees increases, your consideration of remote worker safety should increase, too.

On an average workday at home, you wake up at a reasonable time, get ready for a day at the desk, and sit in your chair from anywhere between seven and nine hours. Without proper movement, care, or desk setup, you risk unnecessary strain on your back, neck, and shoulders. Proper lighting and airflow will help keep your eyes and lungs healthy. What can you do to practice home office safety? While you can find recommendations for home office upgrades, we’d like to offer a few space accessible and affordable approaches.

Here is our Working From Home Health and Safety Checklist:

The following is a working-from-home ergonomics checklist for employees and employers alike. It is important to choose the right space. Good lighting, quality air flow, no noise, and minimal distractions are key to a healthy and safe setup.

Choose the Right Space

Lighting: Your home office should have adequate lighting to reduce the risk of eye strain. Avoid overhead lighting as much as possible. Warm-toned light bulbs, lamps, and natural lighting are great alternatives. Exposure to Light Causes Emotional and Physical Responses in Migraine Sufferers is a study from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center that details the harmful effects of using overhead lighting and why you should plug in a lamp instead.

Air Quality: Proper flow of quality air is important. Your work office takes care of this with filters, HVAC maintenance, and indoor air management programs. Your home office can use these, too. Air purifiers are great for filtering the air in a home office, while an air humidifier will reduce the dryness of that air. In addition, ensure you check your return air filters and change them at least quarterly or more often, if they become overloaded.

Noise: Your home office should have minimal noise. Try hanging posters, drapes, or any other types of sound dampening items to help keep your space quiet. Noise-canceling headphones are a great way to reduce the noise from your surroundings while working from home.


Set Your Space Up Right

Desk: Keep your monitor at eye level and at an arm’s-length away. If you don’t have a chair with lumbar support, use a firm pillow for backing. An adjustable chair with armrests is key for appropriate chair height to keep your hips level with your knees. Obtain a wrist rest, and keep your keyboard low enough for your hands to sit comfortably.

Laptop: If you use a laptop, keep it on a raised platform to reduce neck and eye strain. You can use a desk shelf unit, a laptop stand, or even some books to provide extra height. A separate USB mouse and keyboard will provide more freedom of movement and less strain on your wrists.

Handhelds: It’s best to keep common-use items close at hand. Frequently used items such as a cell phone, notepad, pens, and other handheld equipment can cause shoulder issues if not all within immediate reach. Keep these objects within reach to reduce these potential risks.

Additional Tech: Printers and scanners may be staples of your home office. It is important to keep them accessible to reduce the risk of interruption yet ensure they are far enough away that you have to stand up and walk to them! This counts towards your 5 minutes of movement every hour. All tech should be plugged into a surge protector to protect your electronic equipment as well as your home.

Comfortable Alternatives: Give yourself some more flexibility and use a sit/stand desk. A sit/stand desk allows you to sit comfortably when needed and stand when you need to stay on task and stretch your legs. A walking pad under your desk is great if you want to include some extra movement while at your workstation. These allow you to walk at a moderate pace, 1 to 2 mph, and still use your tech!

Keep Moving: The ability to choose to sit or stand at your desk will be beneficial to a degree. It is also important to move in other ways, when possible. It’s suggested to step away from your workstation and practice safe movement at least five minutes every hour. Don’t sit or stand for too long, and keep appropriately changing posture.

Neck Stretches: Stretching is equally as important to home office health as movement is. Chin tucking is a good start. It keeps the muscles in your neck loose and will prevent the tightening that pulls your head forward and down. Laying down with a rolled pair of socks behind your neck is also a quick and affordable method to stretch your lower neck and upper shoulders.

Back Stretches: Place your hands at the side of a doorway and lean forward while holding the frame. This will pull your arms back, alleviating the tight muscles in your chest. A similar movement of pulling your arms back behind you can be achieved with a long foam roller. Place the roller between your shoulders, along your spine, and lay down on it for one or two minutes. You may also do this against a wall.

What Can You Do as an Employer for Remote Employees?

You’re an employer who wants to ensure your employees’ health, comfort, and safety. How do you accomplish that when your employees are working from home? You could take the initiative and cover appropriate home safety topics with your employees and provide a checklist for employees working from home.

Remote work is still fresh and evolving, and it is up to you as an employer to take the initiative to ensure your employees are set to be safe and successful when working outside of the office.

Promote Healthy Habits

As an employer, you want what’s best for your employees. You can conduct virtual assessments of home office ergonomics, administer appropriate training, or follow a home office safety inspection checklist.

A home office safety inspection checklist may cover HVAC maintenance, proper home internet setup, evacuation procedures, smoke and carbon monoxide detector maintenance, and proper placement for office equipment.

Importance of Ergonomics in the Home Office

Remote work isn’t going anywhere and will continue to become more common. Many find working at home preferable to the office. If you’re able to work remotely, you should practice ergonomics and remote work safety.

It’s easy to let your body sit in those uncomfortable positions and not fit the form of our office chairs and desks. It’s also equally easy to practice good ergonomic habits to keep safe and healthy. The long-term health effects of back, eye, and leg pain are easily avoided when guided through proper workplace safety.

FACS can help you set up your home office and provide the necessary assessments needed to maintain a healthy and ergonomic workplace. We can help set up the proper programs and instructions for employers and employees.

Contact FACS online here: Ask FACS.