Working from Home? Sit Right While You Sit Tight
Have you heard of ‘sitting disease’? It's a term coined by the scientific community to refer to the ill-effects of an overly sedentary lifestyle – a bane of modern times where technology has turned us into sitting ducks (pun intended) for a myriad of health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, musculoskeletal ailments and even the universally dreaded ‘c’ word (no, not the virus, the other one!).
Unfortunately, for a very large percentage of people, sitting at a desk or computer is unavoidable – and in this year of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of us are forced to work from home where our ‘workstations’ may not always be ergonomically ideal.
In the coming days, WFH would most likely be the norm rather than the exception – and the right furniture, among other things, will make all the difference.
So, how do you choose the right ergonomic home office furniture? Two things are of utmost importance: a) right dimensions and b) comfort, where b) is essentially the by-product of a). Right dimensions are good for the body: they ensure that you maintain good posture while working, don’t stress your back, legs, arms and spine; comfort is good for the mind: it makes you more productive and efficient, and helps you enjoy your work.
In this blog post, we’ll share information on some standard dimensions, which may help you in buying the right home office furniture in a store or having one custom-made [which is where we come in 😉]
Choosing the right dimensions
One of the most important things to consider is the height of your home office desk and chair. Since human body structures vary across the world, standard office table and chair heights usually depend on the average furniture standards used in a particular country. Having said that, there are a few industry guidelines that can be followed.
The industry standard for desk height is between 28–30 inches (71–76 cm), which generally works well with an adjustable chair. A customized home office desk could give you the flexibility to choose the exact height and design that works best for you and your household.
So, how to check whether the desk height is right for you? Keep your upper arms at your sides and your forearms on the desk – your forearms and elbow should make a 90° angle when resting on the desk (see illustration below).
Whether you decide to go for a free-standing desk or a wall-mounted Murphy-style desk, a large desk with storage or one with a minimalist design, the key is to have a work surface
that is large enough to accommodates your necessary devices, at least 48x24 inches (122x61 cm)
that has a finish that prevents devices from slipping
is stable and not wobbly or lopsided
that comfortably fits your home office space
Another very important aspect to keep in mind is the legroom or space underneath the desk, also called under-desk clearance. The minimum clearance depth (measured from under the table top to the floor) should ideally be between 15–17 inches (38–43 cm) for the knees and 24 inches (61 cm) for the feet; the side-to-side width should be at least 28-30 inches (71–76 cm) for comfortable room for movement – more is, of course, better.
Of late, standing desks are becoming increasingly popular for their ergonomic benefits. Here, the standard height for a 5'11" (180 cm) person is 44 inches (111 cm). It’s worth a thought, however, to go for a customized solution to ensure you get the right fit for your average person/household height.
Typical office chair height is generally between 17–19 inches (43–48 cm) from the chair leg to the top of the seat. The chair height is right for you when
your feet rest flat on the floor
your thighs are parallel to the floor and
your knee forms a 90° angle
The recommended depth of the chair seat is around 17 inches (43 cm) and width is 20 inches (51 cm). The seat should be deep enough so that you can sit with your back against the backrest. A slightly positive or upwards seat angle, about 5–10°, helps maintain good contact with the backrest.
It’s important that there’s a gap of about 2–4 inches (5–11 cm) between the back of the knees and the seat of the chair – this ensures proper blood circulation. Choose a cushion that’s firm and thick (about 2 inches), perhaps thicker and firmer at the back and slightly thinner in front.
The armrests should ideally be at the same level as the desk surface. Finally, always allow for some room behind your chair, between say 23–30 inches (59–76 cm), so that’s easy to get in and out.
Now, a designated home office space may not be an option for some of us, or we may sometimes be tempted to work lying down on the couch or bed.
It’s usually not advisable to work in bed with your electronic devices because it’s so easy to fall into bad posture. But if you must, then do make sure that your spine is properly aligned and your arms and neck are well supported with pillows. This link gives you some good tips on how to properly prop yourself up on the bed to work or read. Getting a portable laptop desk is always a good idea. Do not keep your laptop on pillows or blankets, as this may cause overheating of your device.
Last but not least: take frequent breaks! Ideally, every 30 mins. Get up, walk about, stretch, do a few squats, climb up and down stairs… whatever rocks your body! No amount of posture training or comfortable furniture can replace the benefits of moving your body.
Ready to set up your perfect home office? CustHum can help you with getting the right home office furniture.
You can explore our Home Office Collection for online purchase of work tables. If you have a design and specific requirements for your home office desk and chair in mind, then we’ll be happy to customize something for you.
You can even use this nifty tool to calculate the ideal height of the work desk based on your own height. Happy WFH!