Homeworking - computer set up tips

During the current Covid-19 crisis many University staff will be working from home and using computer equipment in ways that are not typical of their normal work use. The advice below is intended to provide some basic tips on how to set up a home work area. 

We realise that many people will be constrained by the equipment, space and furniture that they have available. The University accepts that staff may want to borrow IT equipment from their office for the duration of the current crisis to help with work from home and is sympathetic to this. You should discuss any requirements with your manager.

If you use the integral keyboard on a laptop without a separate monitor you are VERY likely to suffer from neck and shoulder pain within a short time through constantly looking down at the screen. SEPS recommend that that you do not try to use laptops and tablets for extended periods of time unless you can set them up in an ergonomic manner.

Advice on computer ergonomics and use is available via the link on the Business Systems webpage entitled "Computer Workstation Training and Assessment". A GUID is required to access this resource.

The following tips are suggested. 

  • Try to work on a desktop PC, if possible, rather than a laptop or notebook. This will allow a more ergonomic workstation set up.
  • If you are using a laptop or notebook, try to connect this to a separate keyboard, mouse and monitor if you have access to these. This allows an ergonomic set up comparable to a desktop PC to be achieved.
  • If you don't have a separate monitor, but can get a keyboard and mouse, connect these and use your laptop as a monitor only. Raise the laptop up so that the top of the screen is just below eye level and at a comfortable viewing distance.
  • If you have access to a height adjustable chair you should use this, adjusting the height so that when sitting upright with your forearms horizontal, your fingertips are at the same level as your keyboard. If you don't have an adjustable office-type chair you may be able to achieve a similar posture and position with a fixed chair.
  • Try to make sure that you take regular short breaks. Move around for 5 to 10 minutes each hour aiming for frequent short breaks rather than infrequent longer breaks. Taking regular breaks is particularly important if your computer is not set up in an optimal manner.
  • If you do not have a suitably set up computer workstation you may need to limit the time you spend at the keyboard to avoid suffering aches and pains.