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Hybrid Workspace and Ergonomics

05 September 2023

As the hype of the pandemic slowly subsides, businesses have started going back to normal and people have returned to work. However, most companies across the globe have now adapted a hybrid model - a strategy that allows employees to work from home as well as the office. Employees have the freedom to decide when they want to work in the office or from home. In addition, many employers have become flexible in terms of where and when employees should work. But what does switching between your home office and workplace entail for ergonomics? How do employees manage two workstations, move their equipment around, and organize their time?

Most employees chose to work in hybrid mode throughout the pandemic. The hybrid model promotes a better work-life balance and greater flexibility. This is made possible by the many agreements on working from home and the creation of hybrid work, which combines a home office and a physical office space. Each employee now has the choice to select whether they want to work from home or share a desk at the company. Employers even provided laptops to most of their employees to make the transition even smoother.

However, if the laptop is used continuously for an extended period of time without any external devices, it may cause posture issues. For the safety and wellbeing of the workers in the hybrid workplace, whether in the desk-sharing office or elsewhere, good ergonomics are crucial.

It is up to each individual to ensure that their workspace is set up properly at home and at the office to permit a neutral ergonomic position. Today, a large portion of our daily work is done while staring at a screen all day. This may result in musculoskeletal system discomfort and agony.

Hybrid Workplace Ergonomics

Depending on the firm, some employees may need to share a desk, while others will go back to their regular desk when they arrive for work. Ergonomics are still crucial in hybrid work. Make sure that you properly set up your workspace before getting started. It's crucial to arrange your workstation each day so that it works for you when you share one. To prevent discomfort, it's crucial to consider elements like monitor height, armrest and chair adjustability, desk height, and lumbar support. On the other hand, your desk at home is probably already organized. If not, try to stay sorted and invest in a wall shelf or a movable cabinet to store your belongings.

At both workstations, make sure you're seated comfortably. Since it's unlikely that your work desk and workstation at home will be precisely the same, invest in equipment that is environment-friendly.

Before transporting supplies, tools, or even furniture from your business to your house, consider whether having it there would be more beneficial. Where do you spend more time working? Think about investing in portable devices like a foldable laptop rise, a standing desk, and a tiny keyboard and mouse. Investing in ergonomic equipment will prevent eye strain and improve posture while working from home as well as at the office.

Transporting mobile equipment from the office to the house or vice versa is simpler. It's best to avoid bringing your heavier equipment home because it will need a lot of lifting and transporting. Larger equipment, such as footrests and chairs can be shared in the office.

Encourage a comfortable setup

Whether you're form from home or the office, you must aim for a neutral, upright posture when working to lower the risk of musculoskeletal discomfort. Here’s how:

Keep your shoulders straight and relaxed

Elbows should be 90 degrees bent

Sit parallel to the work surface

Keep your wrists straight

Maintain the 'S'-shaped spine curve

Align your shoulders and head

Setting up the Workstation

Employers should advise personnel on how to reduce the health risks associated with prolonged sitting when working from home or the office, including:

Monotonous work should be broken up into shorter bursts by taking rest breaks

Avoid awkward, stationary positions by often shifting your position.

Move around or perform stretching exercises

Prevent eye tiredness by blinking or altering the focus

Equipment and Furniture

The workstation should have the necessary components, such as a footrest, monitor arm, standing desk, ergonomic chair, etc. to ensure maximum comfort and productivity. It is not necessarily required to utilize an office-style adjustable chair, as long as users can adopt the ideal posture and find their seat to be pleasant and supportive. If necessary, a variety of body and back support pillows may be provided.

Most workers are not aware of the benefits of having an ergonomic desk, such as a sit-stand workstation that allows users to alternate between sitting and standing while working. Investing in a high-quality ergonomic desk not only relieves pressure on our muscles, but also enhances our focus and motivation to work.

Moreover, standing desks are a fantastic option and provide the perfect answer for the home office. For instance, an LED control panel can be used to set the proper height. The extra legroom and space to include extra equipment, such as an ergonomic mat, under desk treadmill, or a footrest are additional benefits. Height-adjustable workstations are appropriate for hybrid work environments, allowing all coworkers to perform at their highest levels while simultaneously enjoying the health benefits of desk sharing. Plus, this modest table can be converted into a full computer station, making it a unique piece of technology.

An adjustable office chair can also be used to create a neutral and comfortable sitting position. An ergonomic office chair typically has adjustable and supportive armrests that don't obstruct the work surface. When arranging desk-sharing workspaces in the company, ergonomic office chairs should also be taken into account.

An exercise bike that doubles as a desk bike for the home office could replace the standard office chair by providing a more comfortable sitting experience. Sedentary behavior contributes to a variety of health issues. A desk bike is a health and fitness solution that could be beneficial in the home office.

In general, you should refrain from sitting on couches and chairs with soft seats. This makes you want to slump. We suggest that you move around and take regular breaks to reduce tension in your muscles and promote muscular recovery, regardless of the position you choose to sit in. If you're sharing a desk at work, pay close attention to specific workspaces and examine in further detail how they change in terms of occupancy frequency over time.

How to Avoid Postural Issues while Working

Avoid using the laptop continuously for longer than two hours. This is due to the ergonomic posture issue caused by the size of the keyboard, which might result in posture issues even after very brief use. Back, shoulder, and neck pain will result from spending a lot of time stooped over gazing at your laptop. It is crucial to pair your laptop with the following items:

The laptop screen can be elevated to eye level by using an external mouse and keyboard that are linked to the device.

An external monitor to which you can connect your laptop to

In both private settings and in businesses with desk-sharing workspaces, the proper screen height is crucial when using a computer. You can also use a monitor arm in case your computer screen is not at optimum eye level.

When the top of the screen is at eye level, the monitor is properly positioned. Depending on the screen's diameter, the distance from the viewer must be between 40cm to 50cm. Place all of your screens at eye level, if you have more than one. You can use a laptop stand or a monitor arm to raise your laptop, which is great for desk-sharing workplaces.

These should ideally be accessible at all desk-sharing locations in the office, together with external displays to facilitate work. Every seat used in the hybrid desk sharing office concept must be equally ergonomically designed!

Final Thoughts

Your workspace should be set up with the most ergonomic equipment possible. The frequently used items—the keyboard, mouse, and phone—should be placed at a convenient distance to avid eye strain.

In order to maximize the benefits of hybrid working, office days should be scheduled when there is the chance to engage with and develop relationships with coworkers and clients in person, while home office days should be set apart for concentration with little interruptions.

If you want to prevent eye strain and poor posture, don't forget to move around frequently and take regular breaks. For instance, gazing out the window allows you to see into the distance while relaxing your eye muscles. It's also advised to blink sometimes because it helps to prevent headaches and dry eyes. Stretch, get some water, and take a food break to avoid sitting still for too long. This advice is applicable to both desk sharing and home offices!