Instead of Looking for the Perfect Work Environment, Try Getting Around

Difficulty getting comfortable in an impromptu home office? We have internalized the idea that there is an ideal “ergonomic” setup, and that if everything is properly supported and adjusted to the correct height, we will never feel uncomfortable again. But what if sitting in one correct position isn’t actually good for us either? Instead, I present a humble tiny trick: get around.

Posture and back pain experts have been talking about this for a long time . There is no required correct posture, it is just a set of rules to keep in mind: different people can sit in different ways. Your posture can change with your mood – this is normal. And if it is convenient for you, you cannot sit “wrong”. There are many correct ways to sit and stand.

In fact, sitting in one position for hours is probably not very good, whatever position you are in. So instead of striving for perfection, try fidgeting.

Here’s my personal endorsement: I’ve worked from home for most of my professional life and never bought a fancy office chair. My regular chair is a padded wooden chair stolen from the dining room. When I type furiously, I can sit up straight, leaning against the front of the keyboard. When I want to think about it, I pull it closer to my desk and lean back, resting my feet on the ottoman under the table.

Sometimes I take my laptop onto the couch, where I alternate between probably three or four positions: my feet in front of me when I’m lying sideways on the couch; one or both legs are folded under me; and sometimes I even sit upright with my feet on the floor like a normal person. An ergonomics analyst would hate me. But every time I start feeling stiff, I just move a little. (This is especially important if you are sitting cross-legged; you must move these puppies if you do not want them to be numb.)

So if you are having a hard time finding a suitable position, consider that you may have already found several. Try different table heights, try different chairs, and step onto the couch or bed from time to time. There are many correct answers to this problem, and you don’t have to choose.


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