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When you work for yourself as a freelancer, you have the opportunity to set up a comfortable and ergonomic workspace in your home.
The main aim of an ergonomic workspace is to prevent musculoskeletal disorders and tissue injuries caused by repeated movement, inappropriate posture, or pressure.
It’s important that each ergonomic workspace is individually tailored to the person who will be using it. It can take a bit of effort to get it just right, though. It also can cost money if you don’t already have good office furniture you can use. For those reasons, a lot of freelancers don’t bother with ergonomics.
You really should, however, have a good ergonomic home office setup as a freelancer. An ergonomic workspace is really important, not only to your productivity but to your health. Keep reading and you’ll learn how to set up an ergonomic home office and how you can make ergonomic adjustments to your current workspace without spending any money.
Choose an ergonomic chair
Do you know that posture while sitting is very important to prevent backaches and strains? For this reason you should choose an ergonomic chair for your home office.
The height of your chair should be appropriate to your own height. In order to set the height correctly, when you’re working make sure you can rest your feet flat on the floor. Your back should be straight and have comfortable support. You may not be able to sit straight and at the same time reach the floor to keep your feet flat. If that is the case, you should try to use a footrest or a small stool so that your back is kept straight. You can also keep a towel rolled up to support your spine.
To also ensure your desk and chair are adjusted to the right height for you, when working, your arms should be placed comfortably with the wrist getting adequate support.
The quality of the chair also matters when it comes to support. It should be sturdy and not shaky. This helps in avoiding backaches and lets you concentrate on working effectively. If you have pain, in the long run it could be taxing on your spine. This can cause serious injuries.
Choose the correct desk height
Many freelancers use whatever table is available at home, like a kitchen table or dining room table, to do their work. The height of these, though, may not be suitable for using a laptop. This may result in posture problems.
The height of your work desk really matters. While choosing a desk, sit down and stretch your hands in front of you as if you’re working on your computer to see if it feels comfortable. You can also choose a desk with an adjustable keyboard tray. Your mouse and the keyboard should be placed at elbow height when you are working.
Your desk should allow your feet, thighs, and knees to stay comfortable by fitting them beneath it. Your knees shouldn’t hit the table. It’s best to choose a height-adjustable desk.
Place your monitor properly
The next important thing is the positioning of your computer monitor.
The top of the monitor should be equal to your eye level or slightly below. While looking at your computer, you should be able to do so comfortably without bending your neck. For this, you can adjust the height of the monitor. If the height is too high, you should raise your chair’s height or lower the desk height.
The distance of the monitor from you also matters. It shouldn’t be too far or too near. Place the monitor an arm’s length away from you for comfortable viewing. If the monitor is very large, it can be placed further away.
Also, try to adjust the tilt of the monitor so that you can view it without bending. Also be sure to position it to reduce glare. Care should be taken so that the light source does not fall directly on the monitor.
Use good lighting
The lighting in the room you work in also plays a role in ergonomics. In a 9-5 office setup, the lighting is decided after careful consideration. But your home office lighting may not be suitable for working all day. You may need to modify it.
If you have a home with lots of natural sunlight, utilize it to help light your home office space. If there is no natural light or not enough natural light available, you can use a daylight lamp for the desk. You can also install LED lights in the room so that it is comfortable for your eyes.
Be sure to avoid working on your monitor without having lights on in the room. This can cause serious harm to your eyes. What light you do have should be soft on the eyes.
Keep necessary objects within reach
There are so many objects that you reach for while working. Place these at a comfortable distance from your work table so you can avoid frequent movement.
Place things like stationery, documents, and files in a drawer that you can reach into easily. If you’re placing these items on a shelf behind the table, make sure you can reach them easily. Do not stretch too far from your desk to reach them. instead stand up and pick them up. This will reduce the strain on your shoulders.
Take regular breaks
Working as a freelancer is not easy. Sometimes you become so overwhelmed with work that you forget to get up from your chair. Creating an ergonomic workspace not only involves setting up suitable furniture; it also means you need to watch your posture, take breaks, and otherwise take care of yourself.
Even if your posture is perfect, sitting for long hours can put too much pressure on your lower back. Taking breaks regularly can help significantly with this. Move around for a while every 45 minutes or so. Stretch your hands and legs to eliminate stiffness.
Wrapping up on how freelancers can create an ergonomic home office
Working from home as a freelancer has a lot of benefits. At the same time, though, you have to be sure to take care of yourself. If you don’t, over time you may start experiencing back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, wrist pain and eye strain. Once pain steps in, it not only will decrease your productivity, it may take a toll on your overall health. So set up a good ergonomic workspace for yourself. You’ll be more productive and more healthy too.
Want to learn more about freelancing? Enroll in my free mini-course Get on the Right Path to Freelancing here.
Image by Samule Sun
Srikanth Acharya is the CEO and founder of THO and OffiNeeds. Offineeds is a leading corporate gifting company, headquartered in Bangalore and with branches in Hyderabad and Chennai. He started OffiNeeds back in 2005 and since then the company has served 200+ clients across the globe.