Surviving Working Online


The biomechanics of our bodies are not well adapted to a life spent working online from home. The relevant ergonomics have earned some focus in some corporate environments, but when working from home on a laptop, particularly on Zoom meetings, we work with what we have. Poor ergonomics can result in headaches and aches and pains as well as an increased level of stress. Presented here are some suggestions on how we can improve the survivability of working from home.

The standing desk has become quite popular. The issue with working on a laptop is that the screen needs to be close enough that it can be difficult to manage when standing. Getting the screen back a little can be very helpful for long interactions that do not require visual focus. This monitor is a good example:
VIEWSONIC VG244
(This example does not have an embedded webcam, which is easy to add.)
The video in this link is an excellent presentation on how this type of screen can be used in interactions like Zoom or conferences.

Standing for long meetings is impractical. It is better to set up a meeting at a height where you can comfortably sit on a stool. This video discusses how to optimally sit on a stool:

This paper discusses the mechanics of movements of the head associated with vision. It is important for proper Atlas/Occiput organization that we look ahead rather than down:
ATLAS/OCCIPUT AND VISION

There is another reason why a larger screen, placed further away from the eyes, is healthier for Zoom type interactions. This has to do with visual processing and the two foundational states found in animal neurophysiology. Our neurophysiology is constantly balanced between our Parasympathetic (rest and digestion) and Sympathetic (action) functions. The demands of these two systems are continually renegotiated on a minute by minute basis, throughout the day. The operation of our visual system is bound to the demands of these two states at a core level in our automaticities (this can be overridden by our conscious visual functions which is why we do not normally notice). Our peripheral vision is bound to our Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) functions, and our focused (tunnel) vision is bound to our Sympathetic Nervous System functions (SNS).

When we pay focused attention to a small computer screen on a laptop we drive our neurophysiology to SNS dominance. This is fine for focused, detailed activity requiring adrenergic, stress-inducing capabilities. However, most of the interactions on Zoom call for a less focused, more socially active dynamic involving our Endomorphic, PNS driven functions. Using a larger monitor placed farther away expands our visual field to include our peripheral visual functions, facilitating a better balance between PNS and SNS activation.


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