Workspace Ergonomics & Modifications
Proper workstation ergonomics are important for safety and well-being, whether working onsite or virtually. Hybrid and virtual teammates should take care to properly set up their virtual workstations to allow for ergonomically appropriate postures. Laptops can pose ergonomic challenges if used inappropriately.
The UNC Health Office Ergonomics policy provides an overview of ergonomic recommendations and evaluation options. The Telecommuting/ Working Virtually policy contains information regarding work equipment provided by UNC Health.
10 Ergonomics Dos and Don'ts for Working from Home
DO NOT hunch over your laptop
It’s easy to work on your laptop for a few hours on the weekend, but doing so for 40-plus hours a week can lead to back, shoulder, and neck strain. If you can, use an external monitor or laptop stand (with an external keyboard and mouse) to prop up your screen. When looking at the screen, your eye line should be level with the address bar on your web browser.
DO work at an appropriate height
Find a working height so that your elbows naturally fall flush with your table/desk height. This will promote better wrist alignment rather than impingement or carpal tunnel stress. If unable to achieve a neutral body posture this way, add a keyboard tray to your workstation.
DO use an office chair if possible
Adjustable features on an office task chair will save you from lumbar and neck discomfort.
DO NOT give up on your current chair
If you do not have the option of an office chair, there are some household items you can use to help you adjust. Putting a firm cushion or tightly folded towel under your buttocks will raise your hips and increase the curve of your spine, making sitting more comfortably.
DO NOT let your feet dangle
Place your feet on a few books or boxes under your desk, so that your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor and your hips are slightly higher than your knees. This will reduce stress on your lumbar spine.
DO follow the 20/20/20 rule
For every 20 minutes spent looking at a computer screen, you should spend 20 seconds looking at something else 20 feet away. This gives your eye muscles a break and helps reduce eye strain.
DO NOT turn your couch into a workstation
As tempting as it is, the couch is not an optimal place to work at your computer for the entire day. Although it may be comfortable, having your legs or full body in a vertical position can lead to muscle numbness and discomfort.
DO customize a space to fit you
Try to set up a workstation that you can make entirely your own. Sharing a workstation means you need to adjust your computer height, chair, and furniture every time you sit down. Often, you may choose to skip adjusting the workstation altogether. If you are the only person using the space, customizing will reduce the time and discomfort of sitting at a station that does not fit you.
DO NOT skip lunch and make sure you stay hydrated
It is easy to snack throughout the day instead of eating like you did in the office. Making a meal and staying hydrated give you the opportunity to stand up, walk around and let your eyes have a rest from the computer screen.
DO make sure you get up and walk around
The goal is to get in as many steps as possible during the day, even if you are at home instead of on campus.
Other Helpful Tips:
Teammates must meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines to be considered for the following ergonomic controls/assistance:
- Sit to Stand Workstations
- Lighting Adjustments
- Larger Monitors provided by ISD
- Dragon Speak translation/interpretation devices
After completion of an ergonomics assessment, teammates will be required to provide medical documentation by having their treating specialist complete the UNC Health approved American Disability Act Form that describes the disability and the requested ergonomic accommodation.
Submit an Ergonomics Assessment Request.