What You Need for an Ergonomic Home Office

29 October 2018

According to Upwork’s 2018 Future Workforce Report, 63% of companies are taking advantage of “flexible talent” in the form of fully remote workers or work-from-home policies. Hiring managers expect that number to grow by 168% in the next decade, with 38% predicting that their employees will be predominantly remote within 10 years.

Those numbers are part of a rising tide of remote work arrangements throughout the American workforce. Recent data from FlexJobs reports that 3.9 million U.S. employees work from home at least half the time, up from just 1.8 million in 2005. An NPR survey found that 1 in 5 jobs in America is held by a worker under temporary contract. Freelancers and contractors may make up 50% of the workforce by 2030.

The Pros and Cons of Remote Work

Freelancing or working from home comes with many perks. You set your own hours, can work in your pajamas, have more independence—and of course, you get to work from the comfort of your own home. However, that can also be a downside.

Sitting in bed while taking conference calls may have a novelty appeal when you first start working from home, but the novelty will wear off right around the time the back pain sets in. Even if you have the discipline to actually sit at your desk while working from home, your back, neck, and joints are probably still feeling some strain.

While the percentage of companies offering wellness benefits and ergonomic workspaces increases by the year, most home offices are not designed to be ergonomic. In 2014, 20% of employers offered standing desks to their workers. In 2018, that number jumped to 53%. Home offices just can’t compete.

Ergonomic Home Office Furniture Essentials

Whether or not you currently work from home, if the predictions are right and over half the U.S. workforce is remote 10 years from now, you might as well start making your home office more ergonomic now so that it’s ready when your time comes.

Here’s what you need for an ergonomic home office:

  1. Height-adjustable sit-stand desk. Going with a height-adjustable model rather than fixed-height desk gives you more flexibility, so you’re not stuck standing all day long. It also allows for the recommended routine of alternating between sitting and standing every 30 minutes throughout the day. With an electric model, you can even set a timer to remind you.
  2. Ergonomic office chair.Sitting on a dining chair you pulled from the kitchen isn’t going to cut it if you’re spending a full 40-hour work week seated at your home office desk. When you make the shift to working from home full time, do yourself a favor and invest in a high-quality ergonomic desk chair. Your back, neck, and joints will thank you.
  3. Dual monitor mount. Not only is it more convenient to have two or even three screens to spread your work across, a monitor mount also allows you to adjust the height and tilt of your screens so you can find the perfect ergonomic position for your neck. Craning your neck to look at a screen that’s too high or too far away can cause chronic neck pain. Prevent the discomfort with a dual monitor mount.
  4. Padded ergonomic keyboard.Normal keyboards require us to angle our wrists in unnatural positions. Using an ergonomic keyboard with wrist padding allows you to type comfortably and will prevent strain injuries caused by repetitive motion, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
  5. Anti-fatigue mat. Standing for too long can be just as hard on your body as sitting for extended periods of time, causing back or leg pain. Anti-fatigue mats provide a cushioned layer of support for your feet. High-quality models will also include massage mounds to promote movement and healthy blood circulation.

If you’re concerned about the cost of setting up an ergonomic home office, ask your employer to subsidize the cost. As more workers go remote, employers will likely shift dollars from providing in-office benefits to covering at-home comforts. Just because you no longer work in the office doesn’t mean your employer stops caring about your wellness—and neither should you.