One of the biggest changes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to our everyday lives is that many people are still working from home. This has presented various needs that must be met, but one that often gets ignored is the need to promote good health whilst working in the home environment.
Offices are set up to provide comfort and a working environment that enables you to do your work without fear of developing injuries such as repetitive strain injury. If they are not, then you can raise a concern with your manager and changes can be made. But when you work from home, you may not have room for a permanent workspace. You may be working with awkward posture at your kitchen table or with your laptop whilst sat on the sofa. If the ergonomics are not optimal, you will find that aches and pains gradually creep in. One of the key factors to consider when setting up your working from home workspace is the correct monitor height. The incorrect screen height can cause health issues, including muscle strain and neck and back pain.
In this article, we will look at how to maintain the correct monitor height to avoid developing problems with your neck or back.
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Read about the importance of having an ergonomic work environment and the ergonomic factors you should consider.
Find out how to ergonomically position your computer screen.
Find out the correct height for your home working desk.
Read how to ergonomically position two monitors at home.
Read our tips on adjusting your workspace at home, including tips on adjusting monitor height.
Recommended equipment to help ensure your screen is the correct ergonomic height.
Frequently asked questions about working from home safely.
How does ergonomics affect your performance?
When you spend long periods doing something such as sitting at a computer, the ergonomics are extremely important. For example, if your desk is too high in comparison with your chair, it can put undue strain on your shoulders, elbows, wrists and/or hands. On the other hand, if your desk is too low, you will have to lean forward when you use your keyboard and mouse, putting additional strain on your neck and back. Over time, this strain can cause injuries that can become severe.
Desk height is not the only ergonomic factor that contributes to the development of injuries over time. Other factors to be mindful of include:
- Keyboard and mouse placement
- Chair height
- Angle of the backrest
- Feet positioning
- Sitting posture
- Taking frequent breaks
- The correct monitor height
What is the ideal position and height for a computer screen?
You should aim to position the top of your screen at eye level. The monitor should be approximately the length of an outstretched arm away from you on your desk, whether you are sitting or standing. By positioning the monitor this way, you will be able to see the full screen without having to move your head or neck, regardless of its size.
Additionally, by sitting a comfortable distance from your monitor, you will protect your eyes as well as your neck. For most people, this position is between 50cm and 100cm.
Placing your monitor at the correct height has the following aims:
- To avoid glare
- To ensure you don’t have to lift your head up and down
- To prevent you from having to strain your eyes
What is the best height for a computer desk?
The height of your computer desk will play a part in determining the height of your monitor. It will also dictate your posture as you work, which has an impact on whether your back, shoulders, arms and wrists are put under undue strain.
Essentially, there is no single height that is correct for a desk. But your desk should be at a height that allows you to:
- Place your feet flat on the ground (or a footstool)
- Sit and work with your knees and elbows bent at a right-angle
- Position the keyboard and mouse level with your elbows
- Place the monitor/screen below the optical axis
Having a chair with adjustable height can be helpful for ensuring your desk height is correct. You can also get an ergonomic arm to mount your screen on, which allows you to adjust the height of the monitor in relation to your desk. You could even consider a sit-stand workstation that can be moved up and down to an optimal position.
What’s the best way to position two monitors?
If you work with dual screens, you need to identify which is the primary monitor and which is secondary. The primary one should be placed directly in front of you, positioned as described earlier. Your second monitor should then be placed beside the primary monitor on the side of the dominant eye at the same height and distance (source).
Bear in mind that working with dual screens does increase your risk of injury. It can place extra strain on your eyes, and the action of rotating your head to look between the two can lead to musculoskeletal problems like repetitive strain injury. By following the instructions above, you can mitigate these risks, but be mindful of them and take regular breaks.
Adjusting your workspace at home
You can improvise ways to make your home workspace more ergonomic. The height of your desk and screen can be altered by using piles of books, for example. You could also adjust the height of a laptop using books or pillows, if you have a separate keyboard and mouse. If you are only working from home temporarily, you may not want to invest in new equipment that you won’t need in a few weeks or months, so improvising is a good option.
Of course, there are plenty of ergonomic desks, chairs and accessories that provide a more permanent solution.
What equipment can help ensure my screen is the correct height?
Monitor stands are available to place your monitor on. They ensure the monitor is held safely and securely whilst enabling you to adjust the height of your monitor to an optimal level. Another option is to go with a monitor arm such as CMD’s Vision Pole. Your monitor is mounted to the arm and can easily be repositioned to find the correct ergonomic height. If you have a dual-monitor set-up, products such as the Vision Heavy Duty Dual Monitor Pole Arm can help improve your home working environment.
If like so many of us, you are working from your laptop; then laptop support can be a great help in enabling you to have the screen and the keyboard at the correct level and angle. If you are working from home long-term, these accessories can be an invaluable addition to your workspace.
Vision H Monitor and Laptop Stand
The new Vision H monitor and laptop stand has been designed specially to provide ergonomic support to home workers. Adjustable to a range of heights, this stylish and compact design helps prevent issues related to poor posture, such as repetitive strain injury and neck, shoulder and back pain.
Are you looking for products to help you work from home ergonomically? Visit our homeworking page here.
Working from home ergonomics: FAQs
What equipment do you need to work from home?
To work from home safely, you need a comfortable chair that supports your lower back, as well as a desk and monitor or laptop that are the correct height. You may also need solutions to optimise your workspace. An adjustable chair is a good starting point if you have one available. If your set-up isn’t ergonomic, consider other options like a footstool, monitor arm, ergonomic mouse mat and keyboard. Your workspace should allow you to stay comfortable and prevent any injury resulting from poor posture.
You can read our full guide to setting up an ergonomic home office here.
How should you sit when working from home?
You need to be sat upright and as far back in your chair as possible, with your chair supporting the natural “S” curve of your spine. Your knees and elbows should be bent at right angles, and your feet should be flat on the floor.
You can find out how to ensure your home office chair is ergonomic here.
Is working from a laptop an ergonomic risk?
Yes. Generally speaking, laptops are small and are not designed for optimal posture whilst you use them. There are adjustments you can make to your workspace to make a laptop more ergonomic, which you can read about here; however, a desktop computer is usually safer.
Are you working from a laptop at home? Read our guide to working from a laptop ergonomically here.
How should your desk be set up ergonomically?
Your monitor should be positioned so that the top of the screen is at eye level and approximately 50-100cm away from you. The desk height should be level with your elbows, and there should be a little space between your keyboard and the edge of your desk where your hands can rest. You should use a mouse, even if you are on a laptop, and ensure your workspace is well lit.
When sitting, should your knees be higher than your hips?
No – this can put extra strain on your lower back and hips joints.
How can I treat back pain due to working from home?
The best advice is to consult your GP. They will be able to provide you with recovery advice which may include pain medication, gentle exercises or a referral to a physiotherapist. It is never wise to self-diagnose an injury, particularly where your back is concerned.