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Ergonomic considerations for working from home

Author: UNB Alumni

Posted on Jun 30, 2020

Category: Insights

Wayne Albert is the dean of kinesiology at UNB and specializes in ergonomics and occupational biomechanics. He says that any UNB alumna or alumnus who has further questions about the ergonomics of working from home can reach out to him at walbert@unb.ca.

The goal when working from home is to arrange your workspace to avoid neck, wrist and back pain that can result from make-shift workspaces such as converting a dining room table or coffee table. If you are fortunate enough to have a dedicated home office, you can refer to this diagram on proper posture set up.

However, if your workspace at home is temporary and you find yourself working on a kitchen counter or dining table, take a look at this video, courtesy of Annie Barnwell (BScKin’02, MSESS’06), a former graduate student from the Occupational Performance Lab who now works with EWI Works Consulting Group.

Is your desk ergonomically set up?

Additional considerations

Monitor adjustment

Your monitor should be set at eye level with a 15-degree tilt back. The eyes naturally accommodate scanning upwards. Think about how you would hold a book or a piece of paper in your hands to read, it would be angled back not straight out in front of you. Micro breaks are critical. The monitor should also be placed a minimum of one arm length from your eyes.

Make the dining room chair more comfortable

The dining room chair for many will double as the office chair during the day. To provide better support, use a throw pillow on the seat and roll a towel and place it in the small of the back to provide lumbar support. Your back will get tired and sore when you don’t allow its natural ‘S” curve to be preserved. Also, make sure your feet are on flat on the floor. Since the dining room table is 30” high it will be 3”to 5” too high for most people. To set your sitting height to work at this table you may not be able to have feet on the floor. Place a box or books under your feet to provide a surface for them to rest. This will reduce the onset of back pain and headaches.

Working from the couch

If you are working from the couch with a laptop for a prolonged period of time, try placing pillow on your lap (if you don’t have a lap desk). This will raise the laptop monitor to reduce your neck flexion (forward bend).

Get up and move around

Take a walk and stretch (see suggested stretches below).


Keep connected. Arrange a virtual coffee break with a friend or colleague.

Practice 20-20-20 rule

Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. We spend an extended period of time looking at our screens, less than a metre from our eyes. We need to have our eyes accommodate on objects at a further distance. This will help avoid neck and eye strain.


When on a video conference, make sure your monitor is a or above eye level as this will allow you to make an eye-to-eye connection with the people you are engaging with. Placing the monitor too low gives the impression that people are looking up at you or worse, looking up your nose.