Ask the Experts: COVID-19: Ergonomics and Temporary Teleworking

Ask the Experts: COVID-19: Ergonomics and Temporary Teleworking


Amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many Canadian workers are currently confined in their homes, operating remotely. Although this situation is temporary, thousands of employees are now forced to work from home, without having had the time to prepare for this new reality.

In partnership with Entrac, we hosted a special COVID-19 webinar to offer you all the resources you need to ensure your comfort and efficiency when working at home.

If this is a new way of working for you, you may not have had a space designed specifically for telework. Unfortunately, setting up an unplanned office in your home may put you at a greater risk of developing discomforts, such as tendonitis or back pain.

In this webinar, we covered:

  • How to install and adjust your temporary workstation
  • How to work with your laptop computer
  • How to define the ideal place to operate
  • Our creative tips to be even more ergonomic

Here are some questions we received during our webinar, answered by Véronique Goyette, CCPE Certified Ergonomist and Project Manager at Entrac:

1. Can we work on our couch?

We do not recommend working on the couch, even though it is cozy and comfortable! The fact is that when you work, you don’t want to be snug and comfortable. You want something stable.

The back: The cushions on sofas are often too soft and do not allow for good posture.

Lying down does not support your back, even if you use pillows.

The neck: Ultimately, leaning backward is not a good position for the neck. With the laptop on our legs, this leads to a very important flexion at neck level, which causes a lot of fatigue.

In today’s context where we do much less outdoor activities and sit on our couch much more often watching the television, we should rather get up and go work on our kitchen counter, for example, when we start to feel pressure points.

2. Is lighting important?

Absolutely! If you work in the kitchen, the door or window may bring in a lot of light. Here are two situations that should be avoided:

Light directly behind us: The light will reflect directly onto the screen

The light directly behind the laptop: the light could create a backlight situation.

These two scenarios are not recommended as they are demanding on the eyes and cause fatigue.

The ideal is to sit perpendicular to the window, if possible, without direct light. For example, close the curtains or sit where there is no direct light.

3. What is the recommendation for the angle of the screen? Should I tilt my computer forward or backward?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question as it all depends on the brightness. It’s a matter of playing with your screen to tilt it so that you can better see the information and not see a reflection.

4. What do you think about blue light lenses in this telework environment?

At this time, there is very little scientific research that has looked at this topic independently. A few studies mention that blue light could be harmful to the long-term health of the eye and that the lenses could help reduce fatigue and migraines. At this time, we don’t have a clear answer; however, these lenses remain a viable option for some individuals. There is also some software available, for example on Windows 10, which can reduce blue light at the screen level.

5. What is the recommended height for working at a table?

The recommended height is the height that suits you. Your work surface should be at the height of your elbow when your shoulder is relaxed, which is just below your elbow. This recommendation applies whether you are working at a table or standing.

Want to learn more? Watch a replay of this webinar here!

You will also find meaningful information by consulting this free toolkit, designed by our partner Entrac, which includes a practical guide, and video capsules.