By A.C. Shilton
On March 16, Nancy Black left her office for what she thought would be the last time. On March 19, however, she was back and ready to pilfer (with permission) parts of her office workstation.
Dr. Black is an associate professor in the department of mechanical engineering at the Université de Moncton in Canada, specializing in ergonomics. In three days it was clear her home office was not going to meet her standards. So she came back and got her desktop computer, a large monitor and a desktop sit-to-stand apparatus, which lets her toggle between sitting and standing. Now she’s working from home pain-free, which is more than most of us can say as we toil away on tiny computers, sitting in our sweatpants on rigid kitchen chairs.
Two studies demonstrate the toll we exact on our bodies as we do office work. These studies, one from India and one from Greece, show that 75 percent and 60 percent, respectively, of computer or office workers reported work-related musculoskeletal discomfort. All of the workers in these studies had office desks and full-size computers. So, they were starting in a better position than most of us working from our couches. Joy Baganz, the lead occupational therapist at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, says she’s already steeling herself for an influx of patients with neck and back pain as more and more workers report for duty on their sofas. The problem with working from your bed or your couch is simple: It’s too comfortable, says Ms. Baganz.
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