Working from home? Here are five tips to create a healthy workspace

Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine clinical instructor Dr. Linda Miller offers live-stream as a way to “give back to the community” during this unprecedented time

Rob Curtis - 09 April 2020

Across Canada, the workforce is suddenly adapting to the “new normal” of working from home as part of the response to COVID-19. This abrupt shift of the workplace to home offices and dining room tables brings with it the challenge of creating a healthy workspace at home, as people are making do with kitchen chairs, makeshift desks and laptops.

Dr. Linda Miller, clinical assistant professor in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta, addressed this issue today in a live-streamed presentation for nearly 600 viewers across Canada.

“I know it’s a difficult time for many and everyone is doing their best to ‘flatten the curve’ by working from home. I see this as my way of giving back to the community,” said Miller (’89 BScOT). Miller also serves as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council and as president of ergonomics firm EWI Works.

How to create a healthy work-from-home office space:

  1. Whether seated or standing, your work surface should be at elbow height. Try using a cushion to help you sit higher, or put your laptop on a short box to elevate it in your lap.
  2. Make sure your back and feet are supported. Consider a cushion behind your back to improve your lumbar support. A short stack of books can serve in a pinch as a supportive platform for your feet.
  3. If working on a laptop, plug in an external keyboard. This will make it possible to elevate your laptop so that the top of the screen is just below eye level. If you can’t elevate your laptop, try putting it on a binder to angle it upwards a bit.
  4. Consider how to share your space with new co-workers. Working in the same space as roommates, partners or children can create distraction. Something as simple as a pair of good headphones can help to minimize noise and help you focus.
  5. Movement is still important. Aim to change your posture every 50 to 60 minutes, or more often if your setup is not ideal. Without the regular routine of the office, you might need to make a conscious effort to get up and move more often.
This live-stream was the first in a new series, Rehab Med Live, presented by the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine in order to make the expertise of its faculty and alumni readily available to the public in a time of need.

“I tried lowering my keyboard and raising my laptop, and I stood up and moved around,” reported a viewer during the livestream. “It’s already made a big difference! Thanks for sharing your expertise and calm and thoughtful approach.” 

For more installments of Rehab Med Live, visit our COVID-19 news page.