Working From Your Couch? It’s Time to Rethink It

Jumping on the couch

Photo by Inside Weather on Unsplash

In the new reality we’ve all been facing since March, even people who have never worked from home have had to adapt to doing so. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, just 3.4% of Americans worked from home. That number has since skyrocketed to a staggering 62% in April, and it seems that many businesses as well as employees are considering making remote work a meaningful part of their routine, even when things go back to normal. 

This poses a real challenge for workers – for all of us, really. Adjusting to being productive from home is no easy feat, and there are many components to consider: adjusting to Zoom calls, being productive while homeschooling your kids, and staying focused while your surroundings are less than optimal as a makeshift office space are just some of the aspects you’re probably experiencing.

For many people, between living in a small apartment, or sharing desk space (or even countertop or dining room space) with family members, this seems to leave no other option than working from the couch. Others look for the comfort of their sofa as a safe haven of fluffiness in this time of confusion. In fact, in the survey we recently conducted, Upright found that over 27% of respondents are working from their living room, and over 17% are not sitting on a chair while working – the most frequent culprit? The couch, of course.

We know it’s not easy to consciously uncouple from your couch (you can still see each other after work hours!) but here are a few reasons that may help you rethink and give your couch a rest:

  1. Working from your couch is distracting

    Couches are perfectly situated just in front of your TV. Keeping distractions at bay is already challenging enough while working from home (raise your hand if Netflix or even the laundry basket looks their most appealing just before a deadline) between the news and your smartphone. Give yourself a break and don’t overcomplicate it with a sitting situation that will do the opposite of helping you focus. After a productive day working from a desk or even the kitchen table, you can always reward yourself with watching your favorite show from the couch.

  2. Lounging might be everything but relaxing

    Couches were made for lounging. They are designed to help you relax after a long day of work. It is easy to slowly sink in. What’s wrong with that? Apparently, plenty.
    It turns out the deeper you sink in, the more pressure you get on your lungs. Not only that, but reclining also limits the amount of oxygen your body and brain receive. Beyond back pain, you might find yourself waking up from a 3-hour nap you haven’t planned with looming tasks and even more pressure than before – nobody needs that right now.

  3. Danger! Comfort zone ahead

    In our day and age, we are all leading pretty sedentary lives. Due to technological advances and the way work has shifted, 31% of individuals are physically inactive. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many have turned to anything from yoga to running as a way to get centered and alleviate stress, and yet while working from home with the gyms closed and almost nowhere to walk or commute, many people find it challenging to even remember to move. Working from your couch is comfortable. In fact, so comfortable that you’re likely to forget the need to stretch your legs, get a glass of water and walk around the house to keep your blood flowing

  4. It might ruin your posture

    Working from your sofa is one of the worst things you can do for your long-term back health and of course, for your posture. When sitting on a couch, your lower back usually curves inward too much. This means there is little to no support for your lumbar region. This might feel ok for a few days, but after a while, you’ll start feeling drowsy and experiencing severe pain in the lower back and shoulders blades. Not so relaxing, right?

I Get That, But the Couch is the Only Space Available to Me

Not everyone has enough space to carve a designated home office or even place a new desk. Sometimes working from your couch is your own option.

    1. Remove distractions

      How many times have you found yourself staring at the TV on a show that you don’t like but are too lazy to reach your remote? We’ve all been there. Before you start your workday on your couch, make sure to place your remote as far away from you as possible, that way whenever you wonder what’s the latest news update on the Coronavirus you’ll quickly realize that the remote is too far to reach. Better keep working on that presentation and reward yourself with watching something fun later on.

    2. Remember to move

      This one is pretty obvious, your body needs breaks, just like you do! Staying in one position even if it’s the right one is not good for you and can cause harm. Set an alarm to remind yourself either to change positions or to get up and move. You can walk around the house or try some stretches to strengthen your back and core muscles. Got the UPRIGHT GO or GO2? You could use it as your reminder. Whenever you feel like it’s vibrating frequently take that as a sign to get up and move.

    3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

      How rigid and stiff do you feel after sitting for a long time? Making sure to drink enough water could help. The fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds our nerves. It tends to tighten when you don’t move enough or are dehydrated, giving you that rigid feeling. Keep an environment-friendly water bottle next to your couch and aim to use it frequently. All that water will also serve as a natural reminder to get up and move around every hour or two.

    4. Keep your feet on the ground

      Try sitting at the edge of your couch with your feet on the ground. This position will not only make you feel taller and more productive but will also strengthen your core and your lower back muscles. Maintaining this position for a long stretch of time will be challenging, especially if your couch is on the deep side. Feel free to switch positions by leaning back but try keeping your feet on the ground at 90 degrees at all times.

    5. Set your couch for success

      A few accessories that might help are a lumbar pillow that will support your back and a laptop tray or an end table desk which will help make sure your laptop doesn’t fry a throw pillow and that you can sit upright working on it, instead of twisting your back.

    6. Light it up

      After all the thought you’ve put into your couch, make sure you don’t dismiss an element that might be crucial for your productivity. Consider investing in some good lighting, too, since living room lighting is often optimized for entertaining rather than working. Not only do your eyes deserve some love, but when we can’t comfortably see our screen, we tend to squint and compromise our posture, leading to back or neck pain. Leave the mood lighting for the evening and get a good lamp that will make your life easier.

After all that hard work, add some stretches to give your back a break and reduce tension before you call it a day.

Upright welcomes pieces by outside contributors with diverse opinions. Send your submissions to: [email protected].

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