Since the first lockdown began in March millions of office workers found themselves working from a home. But not many people have a real home office environment that is designed for working for eight hours a day, five days a week.

Dining tables, breakfast bars, beds and even ironing boards have become replacement desks and chairs. Phil Johns of Guildford-based Healthy Home & Office says “We have seen a large increase in customers coming to us with aches and pains, having either bought a ‘quick fix’ item or trying to make do with what they have.”

The ergonomic truth

Phil explained that internet searches for “Ergonomic Furniture” can be very misleading whereby the product has very little or no real ergonomic functionality.

Adjustable desks are a good idea, because if your desk surface is too high then you will be lifting your arms/shoulders to work which results in added stress on your upper arms, upper back and neck

Adjustable desks are just one example of a good option, because if your desk surface is too high then you will be lifting your arms/shoulders to work which results in added stress on your upper arms, upper back and neck

“Back, neck and shoulder aches along with headaches have resulted in them seeking advice from us” he adds. “The importance of the correct furniture and an understanding of the overall workstation set- up can greatly reduce the risks of aches and pains and in the long run will enable you to work more comfortably”. 

Back pain scenarios

Typical examples that Phil gave included a customer who was 6’3” choosing a desk with a deep drawer going the full length of the top, so he needed to get his legs under the drawer (59cm) which is the recommended height for a school table for 6-7yr old children.

Another customer had a desk with a drawer and a chair with fixed arms so when she pulled herself into the desk the arms hit the drawer which resulted in her having to perch on the front edge of the chair resulting in no back support and after a few weeks the resulting pain just got too bad and she has had to review her complete set up.

We are also seeing many people using 4 legged dining chairs – you would not use a four legged chair in your office so why are we using them at home.

Phil concludes “Our biggest piece of advice is to find a showroom that has a range of products and a specialist who can advise on the right equipment for you. It may be as simple as changing the height of your monitor or needing an upright ergonomic mouse”.

Unsuitable Home Office furniture:

The most common mistakes:

  1. Choosing a generic chair without having it matching your needs. Tailor making the chair to fit you and the tasks you carry out are key. Working on a four-legged chair puts enormous strain on your back when you get up and sit down. Choose a chair with high levels of adjustability which ensures that you can set the chair up to your specific requirements. Remember one size does not fit all.
  2. Desks with fixed drawers running the length of the desktop or drawer/pedestal units to the sides can limit your leg room resulting in more static sedentary sitting, which is proven to cause various postural problems. Avoid desks that provide limited space for your legs, Check the height to the underside of the desk, ideally you want your knees slightly lower than your hips to create a more open angle at the hips to reduce pressure on the lower back.
  3. Desk height and depth also need to be considered.  If your desk surface is too high then you will be lifting your arms/shoulders to work which results in added stress on your upper arms, upper back and neck (Current guideline for desk height is 74cm +/- 2cm). If your desk is too shallow or deep this may result in screen/monitors being closer than needed, which may result in eye strain and headaches. If the screen/monitors are too far away you will lean forward causing you to change your posture which will add stress to lower back, upper back and neck 
  4. Buying an item of furniture without consultation. The saying “Try before you buy” holds very true for home office furniture and accessories which will make your working life more comfortable and productive.  

Healthy Home & Office can help with free expert advice either in their Covid-Secure showroom or remotely over the phone or email. 

You can contact Phil at Healthy Home & Office on 01483 600085

www.healthy-homeoffice.co.uk


This article appears in the winter edition of Premier Magazine