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Easy ways to optimize your work environment for comfort, efficiency

We talked to a workplace wellbeing expert and certified ergonomist about how you can set up your work space for maximum comfort while hopping between zoom meetings.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Although some people may have expected working from home to be easier, it turns out it can take just as big a toll on workers as commuting to the office.

"Definitely folks are missing connection because even though this is great this fatigues you on a lot of different levels the amount of focus it takes, the lights, literally the electronics that wear you out," said Dr. Melissa Steach, a best selling author, workplace wellbeing expert and certified ergonomist. 

Ergonomics is the study of a person's efficiency in their working environment. Dr. Steach says there are ways to set up your workspace that could leave you with more energy at the end of the day. She recommends starting with the 20/20/20 method. 

"Shift your focus for 20 seconds 20 feet away every 20 minutes to break the spell of this box, because in nature your eyes are constantly shifting with the light," Dr. Steach said. "But when you're looking at a fixed screen it really wears you out." 

Tailoring your work set up to your height and your line of sight can also make it more comfortable to sit at your work station. 

"I found what really works is getting your monitor up at the right height so you are not bending down or back so you can sit up straight,” Dr. Steach said. “If you are someone who is petite and you don't have a sit to stand desk you’ve got to raise your body so your arms can be on your keyboard at a 90 degree angle.”

Steach recommends you grab some books or even a shoebox to make sure you're at the right height for your desk. 

"That allows you to raise your chair up but you don’t want your legs dangling,” Steach said. 

If your legs are left dangling, Steach says pressure on the backs of your thighs or calves can build up over time and erode musculature, aggravate your nerves and slow down your blood flow. 

“Getting a good chair if you can afford it and then raising the chair up and your monitor. Your head can weigh up to 65 pounds and how far it goes forward," Steach said. 

There are also ways you can minimize lower back pain you may experience from sitting all day. 

“Lumbar support is really interesting because it helps the symptom not the cause. So what you really want is sacrum support. That is basically your sit bone so it’s where the top and the bottom come together. When that is slightly engaged or supported it makes it difficult to slouch where as if you have lumbar at the curve of your back support it doesn’t keep you from slouching.”

There are plenty of items that can imrpove your work environment that won't break the bank. 

“Go on Amazon buy a wireless mouse paired with a keyboard. You can get it under 20 dollars and treat your laptop like a monitor screen. There are so many things you can do quickly to get yourself situated to make a really big difference,” Steach said.