Ergonomics when studying from home

Studying from home involves challenges of various kinds. This text will only deal with how you can work better, from an ergonomic perspective, as we tend to be better set up ergonomically in the office than we are at home.

The best posture ergonomically is a straight back and neck. The legs should be at 90 degrees at the knees with the feet stable on the floor and the arms next to the body at a 90-degree angle at the elbows. Rest your forearms on the table. Make sure your lower back is properly supported. 

If you are unable to achieve the above, it is important that you:
Vary your working posture! If you have a desk that is adjustable in height – use it. If you don’t have such a desk, try to vary your posture in some other way. For example, sit at a dining table for a while, sit on the sofa for a while, sit on the floor for a while, stand and work with your computer on a box on the table or use an ironing board so you can raise the height, and maybe even lie on a bed for a while. The key to better ergonomics is variation. If you get a phone call, walk around the room while you speak, so that you get some movement as well. Think about what works best for you and base your decisions accordingly. Listen to your body!

Take a lot of breaks. If you do not have a perfect working posture, you should be extremely conscientious about taking breaks. Move around, have a coffee or do some stretches. And consider changing your working posture when you’ve finished your break.

Be careful not to bend your neck too much. Try as best you can to sit with a straight neck. The head weighs about five kilos and has a substantial impact on the cervical vertebrae, potentially producing what is called “iPad neck” if you sit and look down too much, which we often do when using a laptop or a tablet/smartphone. An external keyboard and setting the screen up on a box can be a solution.

If you need to speak on the telephone at the same time as you sit at your computer – use a headset or speaker. Don’t crook the telephone between your ear and shoulder as tension in the muscles can lead to problems.

Avoid direct sunlight in your eyes or glare reflecting from the screen. Use curtains or similar, or sit/stand somewhere, where you can avoid this.

If you have an external mouse connected to your computer – try to change hands so that you are not using the same hand all the time.

Social interaction remains important even for your ergonomic health. Call your friends and have “e-coffee” on Skype or similar service.

If your ordinary exercise isn’t available, take a walk or go for a run.

Take all the warning signs seriously. If you experience any problems – contact your Director of Master's Programme or Study Counsellor. 

Page manager Published: Fri 03 Apr 2020.