How to Work from Home Ergonomically without Desk?

Working without a desk and Slouching
Slouching on couch (Source: Unsplash)

None of us is a stranger to working from home due to the pandemic. However, not everybody has a proper home office setup, including myself.

Despite the lack of a designated desk for work, I have experimented with different options and accessories to make my work setup ergonomic and inviting.

One can become ergonomic while working from home without a desk by maintaining a correct posture in alternative workspaces. In addition, investing in an ergonomic keyboard, cushion, mouse, posture belt, etc., reportedly improves health and safety.

Scroll down to learn more about different substitutes to an office desk and check out additional tips to become more ergonomic from your home office. 

How to Work from Home Ergonomically Without Desk?

When you don’t have an office desk, you can utilize various objects around the home as an alternative. You can find some of the suggestions below:

1. Use of a Dressing Table/ Vanity

A vanity or dressing table is an excellent alternative to an office desk when one does not have a specific room for a home office.

Many of us have to work from our bedroom. In other cases, the house may be crowded, or the loud roommate may be using the only home office.

Dressing table used as work desk
Dressing table used as work desk (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The advantage of using vanity as a desk is that the bedroom is the most comfortable and quiet gateway for many people. So, the work experience itself can be relaxing.

However, one downside to using a vanity or dressing table is the mirror placement. You will be looking at yourself quite a lot while working, and it can be distracting.

2. Use of a Lap Desk

Lap desks are getting increasingly popular, and companies are getting innovative with this product. For example, the lap desk you can see below comes with a cup holder and phone and laptop charger.

There are also lap desks with recliner features with adjustable height. So if you sit on the floor while working, you will also have enough space to stretch your feet under this small table.

Lap desk with features (Source: Amazon)

Some of the advantages of using lap desks are listed below:

  • It is affordable.
  • A lap desk is ergonomic and designed to relieve neck and shoulder pain from working long hours.
  • This small desk is easy to set up and carry around.
  • It is great for a small or congested place as it comes with foldable legs.
  • It prevents the laptop from overheating if the laptop’s fan is located underneath. Constant overheating is bad for the battery and other internal components of the laptop.

If you want to get a Floor Desk for your home office, you can check one of our articles: Are Floor Desks Ergonomic?

3. Use of Floating Desk

Floating desks are primarily used for placing plants, books, and other decorative materials. But they can also be used as a home office desk.

On average, a floating desk can support roughly 13 to 34 kilograms or 30 to 75 pounds of weight. So, if you are worried about whether it can hold your laptop or desktop, you can be at absolute ease.

However, the amount of weight a floating desk can support primarily depends on the material of the shelf, the number of studs, and the depth of the rack.

Floating Desk with Storage
Floating Desk with Storage (Source: Amazon)

A well-built floating desk can even hold 300 pounds or 136 kg weight.

To make work from home ergonomic, you can install the floating desk at an appropriate height.

In doing so, you will save yourself the heavy strain on your neck and wrists that you could experience from working long hours at an uncomfortable setup.

4. Use of a Dining Table

For small space dwellers, a dining table can serve as a place to work and eat. It is spacious and usually is of suitable height. So, it can be comfortable to work in, unlike other unconventional options, such as bookshelves.

If you do not have an ergonomic chair to pair with your dining table, you can fold a couple of large towels and put them on a chair.

For extra support in the back, you can take a cushion and set it in the back. Once you are all comfortable, tilt the screen of your laptop to where your neck is comfortable.

You can further learn to convert your dining table into an ergonomic workspace from the video below:

Another helpful tip for those planning to use the dining table as a desk is to get some carts or caddy. Unlike working desks, dining tables do not come with drawers and shelves.

So, you will be needing something where you can put your supplies and accessories while working. You might also need to buy an extra multiplug for easier access to charging and power sockets.

Read our article to find out, whether you can convert a plain dining table into a functional work desk.

5. Using Closet as Desk

You can turn your closet into a workspace with minor tweaks here and there.

But first, please note that this idea will only work if the last shelf of your closet is at a similar height to a standard desk. Otherwise, it will neither be comfortable nor ergonomic.

Let’s say your closet’s last shelf has enough space underneath to roll in a chair. Then first, paint the insides of your cabinet with some fun colors and create an accent wall.

If you face a depressing color all day long inside a closet, we bet you won’t feel as great while working. So then, install LED lights inside the closet – if necessary – to create optimal lighting.

You can also create a pegboard zone to make vertical storage. The left and right space to the chair is best for placing file cabinets where you can store work papers and bills.

6. Use of an Ironing Board

The ironing board is a flexible alternative to a regular office desk. You can turn it into both a standing desk and a sitting desk.

When you start feeling stiff from sitting all day long, you can straighten the ironing board’s legs to increase its height and turn it into a standing desk.

However, you cannot place several objects on the board because of its limited space. Yet, it can be an ergonomic option as you can adjust the board’s height as per your need.

Not to mention, you can save extra hundred bucks that you might have spent on a desk.

7. Use a Book Shelf as Desk

If the last shelf of your bookshelf is pretty low, you can sit down on the floor while you use the shelf as a desk.

To remain ergonomic, you can use various accessories, such as a seat cushion, a posture monitor, etc., to maintain correct posture. You can learn more about these accessories below.

If your bookshelf’s last shelf is high enough to include a chair, you can use the same tips mentioned above to turn a closet into a desk.

Using Book Shelf as Work Desk
Using Book Shelf as Work Desk (Source: Unsplash)

Some Accessories That Help When You Don’t Have Work Desk

Whether working on your kitchen table, dressing table, or floating desk, getting different accessories can help you become more productive and comfortable. If you do not have a desk, you can use the following eight accessories to increase your focus, reduce distractions and clutter.

1. A Posture Belt

Posture belts are designed to help you sit in a perfect posture with minimal effort. It not only eases back pain but also prevents it.

Wearing a posture belt for fifteen minutes per day can re-teach your body to maintain a correct posture.

These belts uphold your pelvis, which prevents you from slumping. It is also a great alternative to an expensive ergonomic chair.

So even while sitting on a couch, floor, or bed, you can remain ergonomic with this posture belt.

One of the popular posture belts is BetterBack Support Posture Belt. It is created to relieve upper and lower back pain and minimize chronic discomfort. You can solely focus on your work instead of backache while you are using this product. 

Posture Belt for Sitting Upright
Posture Belt for Sitting Upright (Source: Amazon)

2. A Balance Board

You must have heard everyone saying, “sitting is the new smoking.”

The majority of our day is spent sitting, either at an office desk, on the way home in a car, watching TV on a couch, playing video games on a chair, and so on.

Many are realizing that sitting all day is harmful to health and are opting for a standing desk. If you are one of them, you might need to get a balance board to attain the extra benefits of standing.

Balance Board for Home Office
Balance Board for Home Office (Source: Amazon)

Balance boards stabilize your muscle and keep you alert. It also reduces the tension in your muscles from standing while working long hours.

Plus, the micro-movements in a balance board are like mini-workouts to your body. So you might be getting extra fit without hitting the gym while using a balance board.

3. A Wireless Charger

I prefer my workspace to be as organized and clutter-free as possible. It is challenging to hide multiple wires from different charging portals without a proper home office desk setup. 

Not to forget, one does not always get power sockets near a dining table or dressing table that one may use as an alternative to a desk in a home office.

One of the ways I keep my workspace minimalistic is via a wireless charger. These devices do not take much space and are also great for getting rid of the wires and other clutter that come with them.

Wireless Charger for Home Office
Wireless Charger for Home Office (Source: Amazon)

You can charge smartphones just by placing them on top of the pad. Plus, it comes with an additional USB port which you can use to charge other devices.

On top of that, its sleek and colorful design adds a pop of color and extra decorative flair to your workspace.

4. A Wireless Mouse

One of the obvious advantages of using a wireless mouse is getting rid of the annoying cable, and you can work from anywhere. In addition to that, many companies have released ergonomic wireless mice. 

If your work requires many mouse movements, such as 3D modeling and digital animation, this type of mouse is the best fit for you. It minimizes the pressure on your fingers and allows a more natural hold.

Wireless Mouse for Work Desk
Wireless Mouse for Work Desk (Source: Amazon)

The delivery of the movement is extra smooth and accurate. And it is compatible with all kinds of software, including Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

Some of the other ergonomic mice in 2021 are listed below:

5. A Seat Cushion

If you spend most of your time sitting and do not want to switch to standing, you must get some high-quality seat cushions. 

Without an ergonomic chair and an office desk, you can get cushions to improve your posture and make sitting more comfortable. Some of the seat cushions are designed to provide extra support to your back and spine.

Seat Cushion (Source: Amazon)

They also reduce the pressure on the hips or hindquarters from sitting all day long. In addition, the materials in the cushion allow free airflow, which can prevent swamp derrière.

6. A Posture Monitor

Being ergonomic is heavily dependent on maintaining the correct posture of your body. And what can be a better approach to track one’s posture than getting a posture monitor!

You can get posture monitors that you can put in your clothes and your upper back. These sensor-like small devices gently vibrate every time you slouch, reminding you to sit straight.

Many users report that this device can help you improve your posture in less than fourteen days. Also, the monitor often comes with an app that tracks your progress and offers a personalized training program.

Using a Posture Monitor
Using a Posture Monitor (SourceL Amazon)

Tips For Working Ergonomically From Home Without a Desk

An ergonomic workspace improves health, yields higher productivity, improves safety, and reduces bodily pain. Even without a proper home office desk and chair, you can use the following tips to become ergonomic in different spaces.

1. Proper Lighting

Good lighting is crucial to minimize the strain in the eyes. It also relieves neck pain if you are always craning your neck at a weird angle to get proper lighting.

An adequate amount of natural lighting is great for improving productivity, alertness, and overall well-being.

You can use different window treatments and mirrors to amplify the available light naturally, even without a desk lamp, which is often used in offices. 

2. Keep Everything Within Your Reach

The things you need for your everyday work, such as a pen, pencil, different files, papers, etc., should be within your reach.

In this way, you prevent putting strain on your body every time you reach out to get them.

Try adding an accessory, such as a travel pencil bag where you can keep all your stationery items. Or, you can get a pen holder or DIY desk organizers for better arrangement.

Pen holder
Pen holder (Source: Pexels)

3. Get Things that Reduces Stress

Whenever your body experiences any stress or anxiety, your muscles start getting tense. Chronic stress causes several health impairments and makes one burn out.

But often, the importance of having small things to help one relax is overlooked in a work setting. For example, the following items are great at reducing stress to some degree:

a. A houseplant

Incorporating some greenery in your workspace can keep you fresh and in touch with nature.

b. An Essential Oil Diffuser

This item not only boosts your mood but also helps you relax, improves your digestive system, and keeps you alert.

InnoGear Essential Oil Diffuser is one of my personal favorites for creating a relaxing environment.

c. Hydro Flask Coffee Mug

I always tend to forget about my coffee when I start working. A hydro flask coffee mug helps me keep my coffee/tea warm for a long time, and I don’t need to reheat the drink every time.

You can also get one of these mgs from amazon to add convenience to your home office.

d. Computer glasses

A pair of computer glasses can filter the blue light from your laptop or desktop screen. It helps reduce strain in your eyes. 

Gaoye 3-Pack Blue Light Blocking Glasses are best for preventing dry eyes and discomfort from the digital screen.

How to Maintain Correct Posture Without a Desk?

If you do not have an ergonomic desk or chair, you can use the following tips to maintain the right posture in different work settings:

1. While Working From Bed

  • You can place your laptop on a lap desk and use pillows to make yourself comfortable.
  • Do not look down with your neck but with your eye to reduce the strain in your neck.
  • Invest in a comfortable mattress.
  • Use posture belts and monitors to improve your posture.
Working on Bed
Working on Bed (Source: Pexels)

Read more: How to work from bed comfortably with a Laptop?

2. While Working From Dressing Table

  • Make sure your feet are flat on the ground.
  • Maintain an approximate arm-length distance between you and your monitor.
  • Keep your eye level roughly 2 to 3 inches below the top of your computer screen.
  • Use a backrest to support your lower back.

3. While Working From a Standing Desk

  • Keep your elbows close to your body.
  • Remember to keep your elbow at the same level or below your wrists.
  • Stand straight.
  • Put the keyboard and the mouse on the same surface.

4. While Working From a Couch

  • Put a pillow behind your back to sit straight.
  • Use a lap desk to keep your laptop at a comfortable height.
  • Get a separate mouse and keep it on the lap desk.
  • Keep your feet flat on the ground or use an extra prop, such as a footstool, to support your feet.
Working from couch
Working from couch (Source: Unsplash)

Frequently Asked questions

Do you Always Need a Desk to Work from Home?

You do not always need a desk to work from home.

There are various alternatives to desks, such as dining, table, floating table, closet, lap desk, etc., that can be converted into an ergonomic workspace.

How Many Hours can I Sit on a Day Without Health Implications?

Research conducted by the University of Waterloo professor showed that standing for at least 30 minutes per hour is ideal for getting maximum health benefits.

So, if you have an 8-hour shift at work, it is best to sit for 4 hours and stand half of the time for better health.

However, if you suddenly switch to sitting for prolonged hours, you can develop back pain, foot pain, leg pain, etc.

So, try to increase your standing hours slowly, beginning at 30 to 60 minutes per day.

Is it Better to Work Standing or Sitting?

Sitting all day increases the risks of various diseases, including obesity, high blood pressure, sugar levels, increased cholesterol level, etc.

On the other hand, standing for prolonged hours can reduce blood supply to the muscles, causing extra fatigue and pain in the leg, back, and neck.

So, the sweet spot is mixing the sitting and standing time to an equal ratio.

Standing Vs Sitting desk
Standing vs. Sitting desk Height (Source: Unsplash)

Conclusion

While working from home, one can substitute a desk with different pieces of furniture, such as a dressing table, bookshelf, ironing board, and so on.

It is also important to maintain proper posture, create better lighting and a comfortable workspace environment.

There are different accessories in the market to improve one’s posture and reduce stress while working.

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