By Molly Adams

I last worked in my office on Thursday, March 12. One hundred fifty-four days later, on August 13, I set up a real desk.

My employer, the publisher of the article that you are reading, MaineToday Media Inc., provided us with many accommodations, including virtual ergonomic evaluations and the option to take office equipment home, most of which I ignored because I am a Millennial. I have interpreted the word “laptop” literally for over a decade and was a known entity in the open office for working from all available surfaces.

“I don’t need a mouse or a keyboard. We’ll be back in office by the end of May,” I told myself.

By the time I was working from my bedroom because that’s where the AC unit is, my neck hurt. My back hurt. My eyes hurt. My wrists hurt. I was forgetting important things because I no longer kept a paper calendar or had my bulletin board. My 1 year old, when she was able to breach the gate in our not-ideally-laid-out apartment, was very happy to see me, as well as all of the cords and buttons.

If you are setting up a home office or you have set one up that doesn’t seem quite right, it is time to make some ergonomic change. Thank you to MEMIC for providing a remote assessment of the ways I was hurting myself and some solutions to my problems.

Neck pain

I set up my office based on how it would look in a magazine, not how it would work for my body. I was so attached to my laptop, I didn’t realize it was not necessary with the external monitor, keyboard and mouse. I have also adjusted my chair to look at the screen straight on.

Wrist Pain

Elbows and wrists should be in line as you type. I could get a new sit/stand desk but the cheaper option would be a clip-on keyboard tray to bring it below the desk.

Back Pain

An adjustable chair will give me lower back support and a foot-rest will help my hips stay aligned. The height of the chair will also help with wrist pain—though I’ll have to devise a way to stop the chair from rolling so the littlest one can’t do too much damage when she breaks in to my new workspace.


Meetings had a benefit I had not noticed in the days of yore: much needed respite from our screens. I have my office set up in the prettiest corner of our home, so there’s plenty of natural light, allowing me to adjust my display to the orange-hued “night shift.” Lucky for me, I had a vision plan benefit to use for new eyeglass frames and lenses. I wear my blue blocker glasses for half of the day. Hot tip: They are very cheap without prescription lenses.


Adjusting to a work from home life is hard, from taking breaks, fighting distractions and effectively communicating with coworkers online. My spouse is the primary caretaker and needs space for his work too. Plus, there’s a global novel coronavirus pandemic in an election year during a time of civil unrest not seen for generations in our country. Adjusting to these changes is a work in progress. At least now I can do it in my bare feet without my eyes twitching.

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