Home offices are a relatively recent development. Before home computers become affordable, there was really no need for a home office because there was so little that could be accomplished. Nowadays, many people complete some or all of their work from home and they use their computers for all sorts of different things.
However, where once most people had a large, stationary, desktop PC, now it is more common to make use of a laptop. They take up less space and can therefore be closed and put away with ease. This also frees up additional space which previously might have been dedicated to a home office or computer area. You can instead use that space for something else. Maybe the room has reverted to being a bedroom or perhaps you’ve converted it into a home gym. As you can now carry out your work on your laptop while sitting on the settee, there is little need to have a section of the house permanently devoted to computing.
But is this necessarily for the better? Certainly, it makes sense for the house as you use space more efficiently. However, you probably spend quite a lot of time doing things on your laptop and it’s worth scrutinising how you are spending your time. Specifically, it’s worth looking at your posture.
The NHS provides a great deal of advice regarding how you should use a laptop and there is a reason for this – most people use them in a way which has a negative effect on their posture. Put simply, the position you find yourself in when working on a laptop puts enormous strain on your neck and it involves many important muscles being contracted for a prolonged period. These muscles adapt to this by shortening and then you end up with a permanently hunched posture, no matter what else you do.
Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremylevinedesign/3197502527/
When people advise someone with poor posture to ‘stand up straight’ they show they completely misunderstand the problem. It is not a wilful thing. You can’t address it by simply remembering to stand up straight. Your muscles have actually changed and the hunched position is the one that you will naturally find yourself in. The only way to address this is through stretching and addressing your seating position.
Bring back the home office
The advantage of the home office setup is that you will tend to have an appropriate office chair. However, this is only half the job. You will still suffer problems if you use a laptop on a desk simply because the screen is so low. The best thing to do is to get a laptop stand and a separate keyboard and mouse. You can then work in an appropriate position without putting your body under strain and you still get to clear everything away when you’ve finished, unlike if you were reliant on a desktop PC.
Home offices might take up space, but if you spend long hours on the computer then you probably need one.
Kim Hughes’ office setup features a sleek, minimalist laptop stand, a separate keyboard and mouse and a swivelling office chair from www.cultfurniture.com .