Remote Working

Remote working is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute or travel (e.g. by bus, bicycle or car, etc.) to a central place of work, such as an office building, warehouse, or store.

As a side effect, we're spending a lot of time in front of our computers, so we should be careful that our working environment helps us to stay healthy. For example we could:

  • Use an external monitor: Your laptop's screen is usually not big enough and will force you to look down instead of look straight which can lead to neck pain. Some prefer super big monitors (48 inches) while others feel that 24 inches is more than enough so you don't have to turn your head to reach each side of the screen. For me the sweet spot is having two terminals with 100 characters of width one beside the other. If you use a tiling window manager like i3wm, that should be enough.

    Some people valued that the screen was not fixed, so it could be tilted or it's height could be changed.

  • Adjust the screen to your eye level: The center of the monitor should be at eye level, if the monitor height adjustment is not enough, you can use some old books or buy a screen support.

  • Use an external keyboard: Sometimes the keys of the laptop keyboards have a cheap feedback or a weird key disposition, which leads to finger and wrist aches. The use of an external keyboard (better if it's a mechanical one) can help with this issue.

  • The chair should support your back and don't be too hard to hurt your butt, nor too soft.

  • Your legs should not be hanging in the air, that will add unnecessary pressure on your thighs which can lead to tingling. If you're in this situation, a leg support comes handy.

    The legs shouldn't be crossed either in front or below you, they should be straight with a 90 degree angle between your thighs and your calves, with a waist level separation between the feet.

  • The table height should be enough to have a 90 degree angle between your forearms and your biceps , and your shoulders are in a relaxed stance. Small people may need a table with no drawers between your elbows and your legs, or you wont be able to fulfill the arm's requirement.

    The table height should be low enough to fulfill the leg's requirement above. Sometimes they are too high to be able to have a 90 degree angle between the thighs and calves even with feet support, in that case, change the desk or cut it's legs.

  • Think about using a standing desk. Desk's with variable height are quite expensive, but there is always the option to buy a laptop support that let's you stand.

  • Your hands should be at the same level as your forearms, you could use a wrist support for that and also to soften the contact of your forearms with the desk.

  • If you're a heavy mouse user, think of using a vertical mouse instead of the traditional to prevent the metacarpal syndrome. And try not to use it! learn how to use a tiling window manager and Vim shortcuts for everything, such as using tridactyl for Firefox.

  • Keep your working place between 19 and 21 degrees centigrades, otherwise you may unawarely contract your body.

  • Use blue filter either in your glasses or in your screen.

  • Have enough light so you don't need to strain your eyes. Having your monitor screen as your only source of light is harmful.

  • Try to promote initiatives that increase the social interaction between your fellow workers.

  • Stand up and walk around at least once each two hours. Meetings are a good moment to do an outside walk.

Other tips non related with your work environment but with the consequences of your work experience can be:

  • Don't remain static, doing exercise daily is a must. As you don't need to go out, it's quite easy to fall into the routine of waking up, sit in your computer, eat and go back to sleep. Both anaerobic (pilates, yoga or stretching) and aerobic (running, biking or dancing) give different benefits.

  • Drink enough water, around 8 to 10 glasses per day.

  • Use the extra time that remote working gives you to strengthen your outside work social relationships.

  • Try not to be exposed to any screen light for an hour before you go to sleep. If you use an e-book, don't rely on their builtin light, use an external source instead.

If you have a remote work contract, make sure that your employer pays for any upgrades, it's their responsibility.