Desk set up when working from home

To support you in this prolonged period of remote working, our Health & Safety Department has put together some useful advice to enable you to achieve the best possible workstation set up and look after your musculoskeletal health, whilst working from home.

Read full guidance

Sitting position

If you have a home office with a desk, chair and personal computer, please try and follow Posturite’s guidance as far as you possibly can and try and achieve the ideal sitting position shown in the right hand image. If you cannot achieve this, you could try implementing some of the measures suggested below.

If you’re working from a laptop or tablet, avoid sitting on a sofa or bed and use a table and chair where possible. Try and follow Posturite’s guidance on finding the correct seating position and mimic this as best you can.

Posturite's good posture guide

Chair

If you don’t have access to an adjustable chair at home:

  • Try and keep your knees below your hips and an open 100-degree hip angle
  • To try and get into an ideal sitting position, use a cushion or pillow to sit on and a rolled up towel against your lower back for lumbar support
  • Make sure your feet are planted on the floor. If you’re unable to do this, try using a biscuit tin, tupperware container or similar, as a footrest

Screen height

If you do not have a laptop or tablet stand to raise your screen:

  • Use books, biscuit tins etc. as best you can. You may not achieve the ideal position but aim to raise your laptop or tablet by a minimum of 15cm
  • Your eyes should naturally hit the top third of your screen when you are looking straight ahead. Even a small height adjustment should help
  • Avoid dropping your head as much as possible to try and avoid neck and shoulder strain

Mouse and keyboard

  • If you’re raising up your laptop or tablet, use an external keyboard and mouse so that you are not working with your arms too high
  • Your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle, tucked closely to your body, and your wrists should be in a neutral position
  • If you’re unable to attach an external mouse and keyboard, leave your laptop in place on the table rather than raising it up, but you must take more breaks

Screen glare

  • If you can, try not to put your laptop or tablet directly underneath a bright artificial light
  • Try and use natural light as much as possible. If glare persists, try lowering or closing blinds or curtains

Taking breaks and exercise

The best way to look after your musculoskeletal health is to take regular breaks from your workstation and move around as much as possible.

  • If you have a good home office set-up, take a break for 5-10 minutes every hour
  • For other set-ups take a break every 15-20 minutes

Here are some tips to help you move more:

  • Try to stand up every time you use the phone
  • Try to do more activities away from the screen e.g. reading paperwork
  • Set up a reminder or timer on your phone
  • You can also install apps through Google Chrome Store, such as Break or Eyecare
  • Try some workstation exercises in your microbreaks

Home working self-assessment checklist

Once you have read the desk set up guidance and followed the suggested actions, complete a self-assessment checklist (PDF, 166KB) to identify any issues with your workstation. If you identify any issues you should discuss these with your DSE Assessor or line manager.

Accessing DSE equipment

Please speak to your line manager to discuss any challenges relating to working from home. If you require essential DSE equipment, or if you previously had a DSE assessment where it was identified that you required specialist equipment, speak to your line manager to discuss further.

Additional help and support

You can find lots more advice and guidance on the Posturite website, including a webinar on working from home quick fixes.

If you have any questions please contact your Departmental DSE Assessor or contact safety@sheffield.ac.uk and one of the Health and Safety Advisers will be able to offer support.