Working remotely – Workstation guidance

Mireille Stocker

Mireille Stocker
Consultancy Services Manager, Assurity Consulting
13th March 2020

Setting up your workstation at home

During the time that you will be working from home it is important that your home workstation is set up so that you can achieve a comfortable position and avoid aches and discomfort. During this temporary arrangement it will not always be possible to achieve a perfect workstation set up, but do use best endeavours to achieve comfort by following the advice below.    

For optimum comfort place your laptop on a table and sit on a hard chair. This will help you adopt a good posture; your spine sits naturally in an ‘S’ shape, try and sit so that you can keep this posture (as you would if you were using an office chair*). Avoid sitting on the forward edge of your chair and try and make sure the chair is fully supporting your legs. Remove any obstructions from under the table so that you can sit without restrictions.

If you have a separate keyboard, then connect this to your laptop and raise your laptop on some books (or similar) so that you can ensure the top of the laptop screen is level with your eyes. This will help you adopt an upright posture. Place the risen laptop at arm’s length from you so you can comfortably read the monitor without squinting or leaning forward; adjust accordingly to your preference.  

If you have 2 screens, place the screen, that you use the most, directly in front of you and the other to the side. If you use both screens equally then position them so that they are equally in front of you.

  • Place your screen(s) and keyboard directly in front of you, so that you are not twisting.
  • The screen(s) should be at a 90o angle to your table, not tilted upwards.
  • If you do not have a separate keyboard place your laptop directly in front of you so that you are not twisting.
  • Try and achieve a position so that when you are using your keyboard your wrists are straight and your elbows are at a right angle. You may need to put a cushion on your chair to achieve this.
  • Position your laptop or screen(s) to avoid glare from direct sunlight, i.e. at a 90o angle to a window. If this is not possible use blinds or curtains to avoid glare on your laptop or monitor. Avoid bright lights directed onto your laptop or screen(s).

 

  • Avoid sitting in a draft.
  • If you are referencing a source document, if possible, place it at the same distance as your eyes having to refocus.
  • If you have a separate mouse, make sure that you use it, this reduces repetitive movements on the laptop. Keep it at a close distance to the laptop or keyboard, to avoid stretching.
  • Avoid holding your telephone and using the keyboard at the same time. Put your phone in speaker mode.
  • Take regular breaks from continual use of the keyboard and looking at your screen. A few minutes break every half an hour is better than 15-minute break every 2 hours. Getting up will improve your circulation and ensure your eyes can rest from the screen.

 *If you have an office chair at home

  • Adjust the seat height so that when you place your fingers on your keyboard your elbows are at a right angle and your wrists are not bent. If your feet do not touch the floor put your feet on something that they can rest on, i.e. a pile of books, or similar.
  • Adjust the chair back height and tilt so your lower back is supported in its natural curve by the curved back support of the chair. Adjust the seat pan of your chair, there should be about a fist distance between the edge of the seat of your chair and the back of your knees. The cushion at the front edge of the chair should not cut into your legs as this may impair circulation.

If you have a desk and separate computer at home, follow the guidance you have already been given in the office for correct workstation set up and if you are experiencing any discomfort you must contact your organisation and report this.

The advice that the HSE has given for display screen equipment says: 

"For those people who are working at home on a long-term basis, the risks associated with display screen equipment (DSE) must be controlled. This includes doing home workstation assessments. However, there is no increased risk from DSE work for those working at home temporarily. So, in that situation employers do not need to do home workstation assessments."