Are you having a hard time getting comfortable in your impromptu home office? We’ve absorbed this idea that there is an ideal “ergonomic” setup, and that if everything is properly supportive and set to the right height, we’ll never be uncomfortable again. But what if sitting in the One Correct Position is actually not great for us either? Instead, I present a humble tiny hack: Move around.
Experts in posture and back pain have actually been saying this for a while. There isn’t a mandatory correct posture, just a loose set of guidelines we should be mindful of: It’s ok for different people to sit differently. It’s ok for your posture to change with your mood. And if you’re comfortable, you can’t really be sitting “wrong.” There are lots of right ways to sit and stand.
In fact, sitting in one position for hours is probably not great, no matter what position that is. So instead of seeking perfection, try fidgeting.
Here’s my personal endorsement: I’ve worked from home for most of my professional life, and I’ve never bought a fancy office chair. My regular chair is a padded wooden chair stolen from the dining room. When I’m typing furiously, I might be sitting straight up, leaning off the front of it. When I want to be thoughtful, I’ll scooch it closer to my desk and lean back while propping my feet up on an under-desk ottoman.
Sometimes I’ll take my laptop to the couch, where I cycle through probably three or four positions: legs out in front of me as I lounge sideways on the couch; one or both legs folded under me; or sometimes I’ll even sit straight up with my feet on the floor like a normal person. An ergonomics analyst would hate me. But anytime I start to feel stiff, I just move around a bit. (This is especially important if you sit with crossed legs; you gotta move those puppies if you don’t want ’em to go numb.)
So if you’re having a hard time finding the right position to work in, consider that you may have already found several. Try different heights of desk, try different chairs, and visit the couch or bed every now and then. There are many correct answers to this problem, and you don’t necessarily have to choose.