By: Dr. Jennifer Moore, Dean of the School of Occupational Therapy

If working from home has become your new normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you might find that your makeshift office isn’t as comfortable or allow you to be as productive as you’d like to be. We are all missing our ergonomically designed chairs and computer stations! If you find yourself working at the kitchen counter, leaning over the coffee table, or sitting on the couch with a laptop, these positions are not great for your body or health for extended periods of time. In order to combat the strain on your body, it is important to consider your work routine, posture, and overall work environment. Fortunately, occupational therapy practitioners can offer low-cost and creative ways to address this problem.

April is Occupational Therapy Month and at Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE), we are celebrating the only profession that helps people across their lifespan do the things they want and need to do. Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to the fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent — or live better with — injury, illness, or disability (AOTA, 2020). Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Occupational therapy practitioners embrace the challenges of those they serve and find creative solutions to enhance the lives of others.

Here are a few tips for staying comfortable while working in your home office (whatever that may look like):

  • Take a break from sitting or standing about every 30 minutes to move around.
  • Change your position and posture often. Sitting in the same position all day can lead to neck, shoulder, and back pain.
  • Adapt your chair so your feet touch the floor. It is ideal to have your hips and thighs form 90-degree angles. You may find sitting on a pillow or towel helps you to get into the correct position.
  • Add support to your low back by rolling a towel and placing it at the lower part of your back.
  • Elevate your laptop or computer monitor. The top of your monitor should be just below eye level so you don’t have to strain your neck.

By incorporating these ergonomic tips into your work environment and space, you should see an improvement in your productivity and comfort level. Now if we can just figure out how to keep the dog from barking during our Zoom meetings!

Dr. Jennifer Moore is the dean of the School of Occupational Therapy, a developing program for the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education in Fort Smith.