How many people have the perfect office setup working remotely?
An uncomfortable chair. Aside from having to check in with my teenage son who is ever-present at home these days, it’s my uncomfortable chair that’s the most challenging part for me in working from home.
I think it’s an Ikea chair, judging by the style and assembly. And while sturdy, it’s wooden with a rigid back and meagrely padded seat. Hence my discomfort. I actually went to Staples yesterday in search of a cheap desk chair but, not surprisingly, they were largely sold out, unless I wanted to pay $300 and up.
Usually, when I worked from home one a day per week, there was no issue. I’d use my son’s desk or the dining room table. But on a full-time basis, that’s less ideal.
I realize this is a very minor if not embarrassing complaint considering the overall situation, what with the stresses for health-care workers or front-line workers or warehouse workers, or the challenges for so many laid-off workers, or workers with reduced hours, looking to pay bills and take care of families.
But there are a heck of a lot of people working from home right now — judging by surveys, it’s roughly one-third — and I have to wonder: Does everyone have the perfect office setting all ready for them?
Some make it look easy. Taking a gander at social media posts, there are plenty of home dwellers showing an enviable work situation, with sun-filled rooms, expansive desks, lounging cats and tasteful artwork adorning the walls.
But in talking to colleagues or even friends on video calls, I’ve come to appreciate the great variety of home office situations, from basements to kitchens to living rooms.
Yesterday, in talking to four long-time friends (from birth, actually), we laughed about the challenges of working while surrounded by family. Yes, our kids are old enough to take care of themselves for most of the day, but they still need some attention. And many are bored, wandering about the house in search of distraction after hours of gaming or videos. Plus there are the spouses also working from home, sometimes popping into the Skype frame by accident, also jockeying for space.
And I have to wonder, how good are the ergonomics for a lot of us working from home? Are our chairs and desks set up properly? Is the computer screen at the right height to avoid eye strain and neck pain? Do we have appropriate lighting? Are we stooped over a laptop with the small keyboard, instead of sitting up straight looking at large screens at the office?
And because of all this, are we going to see a rise in visits to chiropractors and massage therapists and eye doctors once the lockdowns end and people head back to their old environment? Back pain, wrist pain, butt pain, eye strain… it’s all on the menu as people who don’t usually work from home make do as best they can.
Don’t get me wrong – I do like working from home from time to time, and I appreciate it. I love getting up later in the morning to start my day without a commute, grabbing a quick tea on a break, and opening up the window on a sunny, warm day. But I do miss the camaraderie of the office and, more importantly, the comfy chairs.