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Working from Home for an Extended Period - Essential Equipment for the Long Haul

With more states ordering non-essential business closings, working from home for an extended period is now a reality for many.  Even if you have the right equipment, there are things you can do to boost productivity and protect your health.  Taking time to organize your equipment will help you avoid repetitive motion strains and injuries.

Laptop The big advantage of laptops – portability – has one big downside: terrible ergonomics. The compact keyboard and ability to work in any position can contribute to back, shoulder and wrist problems.  Consider varying your working position and height during the day, from sitting at a desk or kitchen table to standing at a kitchen work surface. You can use a riser or a pile of books to bring laptops up to eye-level, or attach them to an external monitor, and connect a keyboard and mouse to improve ergonomics. Desktop Computer  While laptops have been the device of choice for temporary work from home situations, it’s worth it to consider a desktop as a longer-term solution.  Desktops are typically cheaper, are easily upgraded and will likely age better than their laptop counterparts in terms of performance.  To minimize the ergonomic risks of spending long hours in front of your home computer, place the monitor directly in front of you, about an arm's length away. The top of the screen should be at or slightly below eye level.  Keyboard and mouse Keyboards and mice range in price from low-cost cheap to super expensive. If you type for a living it’s worth investing in a good keyboard. No matter which you invest in, the setup is the same.  Place your mouse within easy reach and on the same surface as your keyboard. While typing or using your mouse, keep your wrists straight, your upper arms close to your body, and your hands at or slightly below the level of your elbows. Invest in a mousepad with a wrist-rest. Use keyboard shortcuts to reduce extended mouse use. If possible, adjust the sensitivity of the mouse so you can use a light touch to operate it. Alternate the hand you use to operate the mouse by moving the mouse to the other side of your keyboard.

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