Friday, 17 March 2023 19:42

This is why ergonomics in the home office should not be underestimated

standing desk standing desk pixabay

Many people have probably heard of ergonomics, especially if they have a job. After all, there are regulations on this subject in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Occupational Safety Act and in various ordinances on workplaces and business premises, which can also be found in the DGUV regulations.

But all of these apply in companies, where they can also be verified, not in the home office. Ergonomics as such deals with designing furnishings and work equipment at the workplace in such a way that they are optimally aligned to people and do not harm them, even insidiously, such as postural damage caused by an unsuitable chair-table combination. At home, very few workrooms are set up according to these specifications.

Where no one checks whether someone is doing too much for themselves

There, the employee himself must ensure that his work equipment and the room design are not such that his health is damaged. No one from the trade supervisory authority or the professional guild comes by to take a look at everything; here in the private home, no one has anything to say. Someone in a home office is on his own, but it should be in his interest to keep an eye on his health. If he has a good employer, the latter may even take over the investments for ergonomic measures at the home office workplace. But he is not obliged to do so. Fortunately, many interventions can be made by the home office worker himself without costing (much) money.

Out of the dark corners, into the light

It starts with providing good lighting conditions. Even the location of the desk is decisive and can be corrected by moving it. Office work is one of those jobs that are considered to have higher visual requirements, for which 500 lux lighting intensity is provided, or above. A desk near the window usually regulates this matter sufficiently. A gloomy winter day outside still counts ten times this limit in lux. Of course, daylight should not dazzle, but it should provide brightness. For optimal sitting, the desk should offer a work surface at a reasonable height in relation to the chair, or you can use a standing desk, in which case it is correspondingly higher.

Set up the desk and chair first

The rule is that bent arms can be rested on it, so the work surface is about level with the elbows. If it's a standing desk, this is accomplished solely by adjusting the height of the table; if it's a classic seated workstation, the height adjustment of the office chair is used; if that's not enough to get the arms there while the feet are flat and relaxed with the legs at right angles to the floor, then the table height adjustment assists (if there is one). This all also plays into the hands to proven guidelines on viewing axis and distance to the screen, which should be about 60 to 80 cm in front of the face, with the top of the screen 25 cm lower than the user's eyes.

A little more space never hurts

A reasonable desk size is between 200 and 160 cm wide and about 80 cm deep, to be able to reach everything without straining. It should also be well organized. When sitting, avoid working in a cramped, hunched posture, which promotes back pain and can even lead to a hunchback. With a straight back posture, tension is less likely to occur. However, it is also important to take breaks and stretch your legs from time to time. The home office should also not be a broom closet, but should have a certain minimum size to accommodate additional furniture such as shelves and cabinets. One meter to the side and behind the chair (or stand) should be left free.