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Ergonomics-for-the-Hybrid-Work-Environment_Women at home office desk

by Curt Krause
Published on May 20, 2021

To promote a flexible working environment, Cerner has designed a Hybrid Workforce Framework that organizes job positions into three different categories: Onsite, Dynamic and Virtual. Since most associates will fit into the Dynamic category, the Healthe Clinic can provide Dynamic and Virtual associates tools to help you set-up or harmonize your home workstation. You might be tempted to work from the couch, bed, or kitchen table but it is not suggested. Instead, take just a few minutes to set up your home workstation properly so that you can reduce your risk of developing musculoskeletal pain in your neck, upper back, shoulders, etc.

THE FOUR KEY PRINCIPLES to a good workstation set-up when working from home are as follows:

  1. External Monitor:
    1. Place your external monitor directly in front of you about an arm’s length away
  2. Eye Level:
    1. Your eye level should be about 2-3” below the top of the external monitor
  3. External Keyboard:
    1. The external keyboard should be placed at a specific height and distance from your body
    2. b. To find that height and distance perform the following:
      1. Shrug your shoulders and let them drop back to their normal resting place
      2. With your elbows by your side, bend them so that your forearms are parallel to the floor
    3. The keyboard should be placed at this height and distance from your body
  4. Knee Level:
    1. Your knees should be at or slightly above your hip level so that the angle at the hip is 90 degrees or slightly less
    2. Some may need to use footstools in order to obtain the proper height

Of these Four Key Principles, start with #3 External Keyboard. The reason you start with #3 is because we generally have only one place to set the keyboard so, we need to adjust our chairs to get this to the proper height and distance, then we can adapt the monitor and footstool (if needed) placements to the keyboard much easier.

For those who do not have an external monitor at home, you can still adapt your home workstation if you have an external keyboard. Use your laptop device as your monitor and prop it up on a box, stack of books, whatever you have around the house so that you can get it to a position as close as possible to the proper eye level described in #2. These principles are universal and apply equally to your worksite workstation, so be sure to duplicate your set-up.

After setting up your home workstation, remember to take a Microbreaks every 20 minutes. A microbreak is only 30-60 seconds long. During these times, while standing, move your head and neck through general movements (look up, look down, look right, and look left), roll your shoulders a few times forward and then a few times backward, bend over at the waist and let your arms hang down with your knees locked, finally straighten up and lean backwards at the waist. Once completed, sit back down and resume work. The hardest part about taking a microbreak is remembering to take a microbreak. To help remind you set phone/watch/computer alerts or do it the old fashion way. Take a neon-colored sticky note and write microbreak on it, then place it at a corner of your monitor. Every time you take a break, move the note to another corner.

I’d also recommend Cerner associates visit Cerner Motion Health for additional resources, education, mobility routine videos and to join Build Better Joints. Addressing your musculoskeletal health on a daily basis, whether you’re in pain or not, can be beneficial to your physical well-being.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Taking these small steps will go a long way of reducing the risk of developing neck and upper back pain, shoulder tension, headaches, etc.