Seats in office chairs should be movable, she said. Look at where the lumbar support is, if the chair has it. Is the back height comfortable? Can the person sit upright in it? Those are all factors to test. Don’t just purchase a chair online that says “ergonomic” because it might not fit right, she said.
“You really want to sit in the chair and makes sure it fits you,” she said.
Chair designs have come a long way, with stylish options like the Shortcut from Turnstone ($260, www.steelcase.com) or Modway's Pillow High-Back Desk Chair ($480, www.wayfair.com)
Telecommuters have options when it comes to desks. Some manufacturers are making slim stations that look like home furniture, like the Realspace Merido computer tower, ($189.99, www.officedepot.com), or that look like bookcases, such as one from Monarch Specialties ($139.99 www.officedepot.com). Variable desks are popular for at-home workers because they fit on a table, allowing workers to sit or stand to use them. One example is WorkFit-T ($580, www.lucindatech.com)
Christy Hopkins, writer for small-business advice site FitSmallBusiness.com, who telecommutes, said a standing laptop desk for her table suited her needs. Her version is slim enough to be folded up after work, too, such as one from Zingz & Thingz ($34.99, www.wayfair.com)
Sendin said people who don’t want to invest in a variable desk can use an ironing board as a desktop since it can be moved up and down to allow the worker to go from a seated to upright position and can be put away after work is done.
Lighting. Poor lighting can lead to eye strain, and overhead fluorescent lights can be harsh on the eyes, Sendin said.
Telecommuters should consider a good lamp with softer yellow tones, which is easier on the eyes, she said. A clamp-on lamp, like the Realspace LED gooseneck lamp ($39.99, www.officedepot.com)
Sendin said to keep in mind that the laptop also emits light, so you can use a dimmer bulb in the lamp — something in the range of 20-30 watts.
A reason to get up. It’s easy to forget about getting up and standing when working at the office, but at home, people are likely to be even more sedentary — with no commute, no co-workers to walk and see, and less reason to drink water or coffee, Hopkins said.
Hopkins said she can personally attest to this, so she bought a water cooler and cups and makes a point of using them. Tervis carries customizable designs for its stainless steel cups ($24.99. www.tervis.com)
She also checks her activity with a FitBit Blaze ($199, www.bestbuy.com)
“There is some research that says if you work from home, your bad habits can be accentuated. If you’re a smoker, you smoke more, an eater you eat more. It’s easier to gain weight at home, so a pedometer helps you keep track of how much you’re moving,” she said.
Sendin agreed. Ergonomics research suggests sitting and standing throughout the day, taking a break every two to three hours. Even “micro breaks” — when a person is moving for about two minutes — are important to prevent strain from sitting for too long.
“Stand up, get some water. Go put in a load of laundry. Ensure you take those micro breaks. Do that, so you’re not (getting) hurt,” she said.