is working from an armchair hurting my credibility? — Ask a Manager

here are the 10 best questions to ask your job interviewer — Ask a Manager

A reader writes:

Since starting my first work-from-home job last year, I’ve noticed the unexpected perk that being able to work from an armchair, recliner, or my couch has SIGNIFICANTLY reduced chronic pain from an old injury because I’m able to support my body in ways that a desk chair doesn’t allow.

My concern is that in a very cameras-on culture, it looks like I’m slacking off or lounging. For what it’s worth, I’m always sitting upright with a lap desk to stabilize my computer, dressed professionally, and I default to blurring my background, but it’s still pretty obvious that unlike my coworkers I’m not usually at a desk. For extremely important meetings with higher-ups or rare in-office days, I can make a desk setup work for a few hours to keep up appearances, but it sucks and leaves me sore so I’d rather not do it for every call I have to be on.

Theoretically I could get an ergonomic desk set-up, but the kind I’d need would be expensive and it seems wasteful to spend my own money or ask my employer to use limited nonprofit resources on something that can be accomplished just as easily with the furniture I already have.

My supervisor, HR, and coworkers know about my injury (I’m very open about it), but I’ve never formally said “working on my couch eliminates my need for painkillers,” and even though I’ve never gotten the impression that this is a problem within my organization, I am a little insecure about it!

Are there ways to make the optics better? If meeting with someone from outside my company should I address it proactively? Am I overthinking this? I’m really interested to hear what you suggest.

You’re fine. It’s an armchair, not a blanket fort. You’re not lying facedown on a bed.

You’re in an armchair. It’s designed for sitting! Throw in a smoldering pipe and a bookcase behind you and you will look extremely distinguished.

If you really want to get peace of mind about it, you can always run it by your boss and say, “I’ve found sitting in an armchair while I work has significantly reduced pain from an old injury. I’m assuming it’s fine to appear on video calls that way — but you would let me know if it comes across oddly or I should get any kind of formal accommodation to do that, right?” They will almost certainly laugh and say it’s fine, and you will have peace of mind about it that you don’t currently have.

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