Temporary Home Offices: Working in Small Spaces
Information form Marsh & McLennan Companies Ergonomic Leadership Team
Working from home may present challenges including creating a dedicated workspace, ensuring comfort, safety and productivity. If you live in a small space, this can present even greater challenges. The inability to dedicate a specific workspace can leave you feeling overwhelmed physically and emotionally.
Find a Space
Find a space that is versatile – office during the day; other functions after hours.
- Natural light is best, but if not available, use a lamp that shines down rather than directly on the screen.
- Make sure others (roommates, partner, children, & pets) know when it is ok and when it is not ok to interrupt you.
- Start/stop your work day normally as you would in the office
- Ensure good air flow
- Keep the area organized and free of clutter
Take Regular Breaks
- Take breaks (30 minute stretch/movement every hour)
- Step away from your work area for lunch/breaks
- Take a walk or exercise mid-day to clear your mind and refocus.
- Focus on a specific task for a specific period of time
- Keep your cords organized and out of the way.
- Don’t overload electrical outlets.
If You Do Not Have a Table or Desk
Try one of the following:
- Tray table
- Stack books on a coffee table
- Bed tray
- Low bookshelf
- Shelving from home improvement store/online retailers supported well to provide a flat, sturdy surface
- Large surface book like an atlas
- Ironing Board
- Several options available at online retailers for $30 or less
- Never put the laptop directly on your lap
- Try to keep elbows at or slightly higher than keyboard/laptop
- Try to keep the top of your screen at eye level.
- Consider using noise cancelling headphones to block out distractions
- Keep wrists in line with forearms
Try Alternating Your Posture
Consider a kitchen work surface to provide alternation between sitting/standing
- Try standing for 10 minutes of every half hour.
- If you have an island with stools, try working there for portions of the day.
If You Do Not Have a Dining Chair
Consider the following if you have to work from a couch or recliner:
- Ensure you have room to move your arms
- Ensure you have room for any input devices (keyboard/mouse)
- Use additional pillow to bring you forward on the couch to reduce slouching.
- If the seat is too soft and you are sinking, add a bed pillow to provide some stability
- If additional support is needed, use a small pillow behind your lower back to support the natural curve of your spine.
- Keep feet flat on the floor or support feet on a book.
If Your Only Solution is Working From Your Bed
- Use pillows to support your upper and lower back.
- Place a small pillow under the knees to alleviate pressure on lower back.
- Support your laptop on a firm surface.
If you are having difficulties with your home workstation please contact Purchasing at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange for a virtual ergonomic assessment.
For additional tips on setting up a home office please visit Ergonomics: Tips for A Healthier Home Office.