is working from an armchair hurting my credibility?

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.

{ 146 comments… read them below }

  1. Foreign Octopus*

    I’ve just started doing this. I work from home and teach English online. I do work for myself so that helps but it’s been such a relief to not have constant back pain. I’m much more comfortable and engaged in the lessons and, really, that’s what matters at the end of the day.

  2. Hyaline*

    As long as by “armchair” you don’t mean “mystery stain encrusted Laz-e-boy with Snoopy blanket draped over it” I think you’re fine. I wouldn’t think twice about an armchair!

    1. SeenOnTV*

      I remember at the start of COVID there was a gaming chair called something like “The Scorpion” which had full recline, tilt, massage, heat, cooling, etc. features, and had mounts for up to 3 monitors along with places to secure a workstation, keyboard, mouse, etc. that all moved with you so you were always in the best ergonomic position. I really really really wanted one of those!

      1. Zona the Great*

        One day we’ll all get there. We will soon enter our work pods and be able to virtually work anywhere with some sort of VR component.

        1. GythaOgden*

          I did just see an advert for training that allowed a welder to build muscle memory using VR. Actual welding…not so much.

      2. Patty*

        If you are interested on the youtube channel Linus Tech Tips someone did try to use that for work everyday.

        It was certainly an interesting watch t0 see unfortunately that one ended up being pretty uncomfortable for the guy who tried it but he is a bit heavier set guy that ended up doing it, he said it may not have been as bad otherwise as it’s a really specific position with no adjustment.

        1. Luva*

          I had a colleague who worked lying flat in a bed, with a monitor suspended overhead and his keyboard/mouse down at his sides; he said it helped a lot with his pain level overall. It was a pretty casual tech team and he was an engineer so I don’t think anyone cared.

          1. NutellaNutterson*

            I know someone who had to be flat on their back, and made a similar setup their “office.” While they were clearly laying down, they also made it not look like a bed – the covering was a heavy upholstery type fabric that didn’t seem to stretch or drape like bedsheets would. They were clearly aware of optics, and we’re not giving “lounging in bed” vibes at all. I hope I never need a similar setup but it’s great to remember that there’s middle ground between upright in office and boudoir!

            To the LW, the only other point I’d look at would be when you say lap desk, I’d be concerned about movement from the ordinary shifting that happens in a chair. It can make people queasy, and is the most likely source of any “feels a little casual” sentiment. If at all possible, position your webcam onto a steady table that can swing over your chair.

      3. metadata minion*

        Daaaang. Looking it up, that looks like both an incredibly practical chair and something that was obviously intended to look like a supervillain’s headquarters.

    2. Juicebox Hero*

      You leave my Snoopy blanket out of this >:(

      The constant parade of nosy cats would keep anyone from noticing it, anyway. I really don’t know what I’d do with them if I ever had to work from home.

      1. CatMintCat*

        My cat became part of the team when we were working from home. If she wasn’t visible on screen, people asked where she was.

      2. Adam*

        People love cats! Mine used to sleep on the floor or sit on my lap while I worked before he became too arthritic to climb the stairs, and he was always a welcome sight.

    3. OP*

      Our armchairs are all secondhand and the most comfortable one is admittedly pretty scrungly, but I sit in the nice one so that even if I get an unexpected call I’m not sitting on something that my fiancée’s uncle gave us because it was so ugly his wife refused to keep it in the house, haha

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yup. I’ve also brightened up boring sofas with throws and inherited a rather tatty rocking chair from a friend which was immediately helped by a nice throw.

          And in terms of backgrounds, I keep the wall behind where I sit unblurred. The Dalek schematic picture is a hit with a lot of people and it has been something I can bond with them over. It’s tidy and professional but we work in maintenance, so we deal a lot with plans and technical stuff every day and get to geek out together.

          It’s also healing for me because since my husband died five years ago I haven’t been able to really watch Doctor Who at all and although it hasn’t yet brought me back into the fold, it’s re-associated the show with something positive and uplifting and started to make happier memories about it. Given that most of the people I work with are also happy with a screwdriver, there’s also comments about using my Dalek schematics to actually /build/ one to deal with certain customers. But they’re obviously joking…I think.

        2. Freya*

          If you’re in Australia, Spotlight sells generic armchair covers that tuck in the corners and stretch over the expanses, with elastic or velcro to tighten and secure underneath – like the ones you get for dining chairs, but armchair or sofa/couch shape. They cover a multitude of sins and are much more easily washable than the armchair itself! (I just looked and they also have rather more expensive options for recliners…)

        3. OP*

          We have a decent one but because it’s an electric-powered recliner and kind of a weird shape, it doesn’t fit well. We’re thinking of asking my in-laws to finance a custom cover in a cool fabric next time a gift-giving holiday comes up!

      1. DJ Abbott*

        I used to have an old hand-me-down couch that smelled like some of the places it had been. I found king-size sheets or big curtain panels made really good throw covers. The curtain panels were nice, they were made of polyester and they were pretty and shiny, easy to wash and came out of the dryer looking great.

    4. RVA Cat*

      You can have the world’s ugliest recliner if you have a cute Jack Russel Terrier zoom-bombing ever meeting.

  3. ferrina*

    Seconding the bookcase next to the armchair suggestion. I occasionally work from an armchair with a bookcase in the background, and I have had positive responses. Usually it’s people fascinated by the books I have, but sometimes people just generally approving of the whole set up. It’s almost old-school Sherlock Holmes study vibes (even though nothing about the bookshelf, books or armchair are particularly Holmesian)

    1. RLC*

      I’m thinking of the photos I’ve seen of King Charles or Queen Elizabeth sitting in an armchair at their desk, signing papers. A most dignified and very formal image.

  4. soontoberetired*

    I sit in an armchair when I work from home a lot for the relief of pressure on my back. Lots of my co-workers due it, too. No one has ever expressed displeasure over it.

  5. starsaphire*

    I love working from my recliner! I’ve taken a few meetings from it as well.

    I don’t think it looks bad at all.

  6. Garblesnark*

    My experience as a disabled person has been that if people are going to be upset with you for this, there is nothing you can do that will make them happy with you.

  7. Maglev to Crazytown*

    I am also in this same club. I have fibromyalgia and musculoskeletal issues, and I alternate between couch and armchair for the same reasons as LW… it provides a lot more bodily support. I do occasionally alternate with one of the saddle-type stools at my desk, but predominantly work from a lap desk. I am fully remote and use a standard background in meetings. No one has said a word, and I can tell other coworkers do the same, so it really hasn’t been an issue for or to anyone. I also see coworkers periodically working from cafes and kitchen tables, so in most remote environments now, it doesn’t seem to be a taboo as long as the work gets done and the meetings attended. I travel about 15% of the time, but otherwise am fully remote at home. If I have to do a presentation at a public meeting or with a major customer, I always do it from my desk, or a meeting room at the library (to ensure strong internet connection for video and optimum lighting). Otherwise, I can be found on the couch or armchair.

    1. Uranus Wars*

      I have MSK issues and one of my major regrets when I moved was getting rid of my bar height table and saddle stools. I did NOT realize how moving to a desk would affect my back pain, or rather how the change in seating helped it! Currently looking into another bar set. I say if the recliner works, keep at it!

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I like the sliding table when I’m at the couch or the swingover table when I’m in the recliner (I got one that doesn’t look like I stole it from the local hospital, which helps). This allows my cat to sleep in my lap while I’m working.

  8. Karo*

    When I’m WFH I roam around my house with my laptop unless I need a second monitor. Sometimes I’m in an armchair, sometimes I’m on my couch, sometimes I’m at my dining room table. No one bats an eye, and I don’t even have a good excuse for it other than I don’t want to sit at my desk. Unless you’re in a rigid industry or doing something weird like Alison detailed, I don’t think anyone will notice or care.

    1. ferrina*

      I’m also a house roamer, and it amused my team so much. They loved trying to guess where I was based on my background.
      Now I’m at a company that is a bit more formal, and my camera is more likely to stay off.

    2. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      I change up my location in the house a few times a week intentionally–that way people don’t ask “Ohhh, where are you?” when I work from my inlaws or a friend’s house. It’s just normal that I’m in a different location than my desk with the background blurred.

    3. OP*

      My fiancée and I both work from home and tend to bounce around between different recliners, the couch, and our desk setup with multiple monitors. When there’s two of us sharing the space all day every day it’s good to mix it up and stay comfortable

    4. Also-ADHD*

      Same, and I have a rolling desk set up next one of my armchairs too. It would never occur to me people were scrutinizing my chair. I do need a bunch of monitors sometimes, but I work all over the house.

    5. amoeba*

      I was part of the team planning our new office space – moving around during the day is apparently the next big thing and called “activity-based working”! You’re living the future of work here… (I think we’re kind of frustrating to the architects though, as we sit at the desks for, like, 90% of the day. And not even a different desk every day! The other options are at least used for phone calls and the like…)

  9. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

    First of all this sound fine to me, but if you feel a little self-conscious could you experiment with a blanket/sheet covering the chair back to see if you can get it to blur/disappear? My white desk chair has a fairly high back and it becomes invisible when I use a virtual background (one of those pre-blurred office-y ones). Though you can tell there’s something there when my cat appears to climb up onto my shoulder and then disappear into the ether, lol.

    1. Pretty as a Princess*

      If you really want to do this, green-screen green fabric is cheap at Joann’s. We had some for years when my kids were learning how to make little videos on their phones.

    2. LRL*

      I took a photo of the background at my usual desk, blurred it, and set it as the virtual background in video calls when traveling (inside or outside my home). People who know know and are fine with it, but it has cut down on other people asking where I am.

  10. wkfauna*

    This might be a bit off-topic, but I’ve been looking for a good lap desk because I’ve been having some ergonomic issues crafting on my computer desk. OP or others, any recs??

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I work from home 99.9% of the time and found a lot of affordable options on Amazon. The one I bought is by Lap Gear and it’s held up well. My work and larger personal laptop easily fit, and it has a built in mouse pad. It’s pretty basic, which is why I like it – no storage, no wrist rest for the mouse pad, no USB port for phone charging. But those options exist on other models, and I hope you can find one you like.

    2. Lionheart26*

      I bought what is advertised on Amazon as an ipad holder for children and it’s PERFECT.

    3. Anax*

      I’m loving the ‘Deperte 31.5” Desk’ off Wayfair. Not a traditional lap desk, but it’s an appropriate height to use from the couch, and it’s on wheels so I can move it basically into my lap.

      (It took some HUNTING to find a desk at an appropriate height for use at a couch – most are too high because they’re designed for desk chairs, and I need to be able to type ergonomically. Often with a cat in my lap.)

    4. OP*

      I actually got mine off of facebook marketplace for $10, but I think it’s originally from Marshalls based on the tag that was on it.

    5. Peanut Hamper*

      You might also want to ask this on Saturday, since more people will probably see it then. Lots of crafters here on Saturday!

    6. Reluctant Mezzo*

      I like the Tablemate because I can adjust it to a lower height than a standard wooden TV tray and I can slide it out of the way if I need to go do something.

  11. StressedButOkay*

    I’m 100% remote and I alternate between my desk and my couch a few times a week. It helps my back (and stops the cat from screaming into the void since they can snuggle during couch time) and I’ve taken internal and external meetings from the couch. The blur background is fantastic and unless you’re doing a pillow and blanket fort, it doesn’t look bad.

    There are still tons of people who are remote who simply don’t have the space for a home desk and this is their solution, too.

    1. Anax*

      Yup, same here. I did find that after about a year of working from the couch, I started having hip and thigh pain, which is why I went back to working at a desk part-time.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I immediately thought of Monsterpiece Theater from Sesame Street. OP needs to consider wearing an ascot.

  12. Falling Diphthong*

    OP, as a general rule I am a fan of “This unusual thing about my appearance that is not business standard? There is a one sentence boring medical explanation for it. Moving on…” To contextualize sneakers with a suit, or a collection of chains and rings that look arty but are in fact for carpal tunnel support.

    But sitting upright in a chair shouldn’t ping anything. You can deploy that one sentence boring medical explanation if someone comments, but I don’t think they’re not commenting because they’re too polite, but rather because they assume you are sitting where you are comfortable for prolonged tapping on a laptop keyboard.

    If you were lying down on a couch or bed because of an injury, that would be worth the one sentence boring medical explanation for new contacts.

  13. Peanut Hamper*

    Oh, wow, I didn’t even realize this was a possibility. I may switch out chairs in my home office to alleviate the back pain I’ve experienced my entire life. Thank you, LW!

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        Or a licorice pipe, if you’re one of those weirdoes who actually likes licorice ;)

  14. Oxford Common Sense*

    Pillow fort is almost two years old, and no update. We really do need an update.

    1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      Honestly, we need to normalize working from a Pillow Fort. But then again, I’m the kind of gal who threatened to bring a human dog bed to work and just hide under my desk all day, so I might not have the best perspective on this.

      (The boss seemed…kind of jealous…of my dog bed plan, so I think I could get away with it.)

      1. Anax*

        Honestly, the ONE thing about the pillow fort for me – in an office setting, that seems so hard to keep clean!

        I guess that once you’ve worked in an office with occasional mice, the paranoia doesn’t go away. I would be so afraid of some sort of infestation – or heck, someone walking through with muddy shoes.

  15. morethantired*

    I work from my couch every day. I have my laptop at desk-level and take my calls with it on that surface, but I work leaning back on my pillows with a blanket over my legs. I feel for the “pillow fort” woman because I am so much more productive when I can sit how and where I like.

    1. ferrina*

      Productivity matters. I work in a lot of places- I’m ADHD, so some days, moving around is the stimulation I need to focus. I love the freedom to ensure my environment each day will match whatever my brain decides to do that day.

      My frustration is with people that go for indulgence and ignore productivity. I worked with someone who regularly worked from her bed propped up with pillows. She was…not great. She definitely did some work, but not even close to full-time level of productivity. It made my job so, so much harder. It was definitely frustrating to see her leaning on pillows, but that was more a more a reaction to her overall attitude toward work. She was the only person I ever worked with that I ever had this issue with- every other coworker I never gave a second thought to where they worked.

      1. morethantired*

        Well that’s the thing — optics and little things can become a big issue if you’re underperforming. If you’re crushing it every day, never missing a deadline and exceeding expectations, no one would care if you’re calling in from a hammock on a beach every day.

  16. Miss Chanandler Bong*

    I had a boss who got mad about this…I had injured my knee and that was the only comfortable place to work. I wasn’t even on camera. He was ridiculous.

    OP, if you ever choose to sit at a desk (like if you need dual monitors), I’ve found that a gaming chair with a footrest works really well for me. If you decide you want dual monitors but would still rather continue working from the armchair, you can get some relatively inexpensive portable monitors off of Amazon.

    1. Judge Judy and Executioner*

      I recently had knee surgery and have been working from home in my recliner for a month now. No one has cared, even when I joined an important meeting with my boss, grandboss, and several C-suite executives. I agree that your manager was being ridiculous!

    2. OP*

      We actually got a regular desk chair that has a footrest and it’s made a huge difference! I don’t usually need two monitors but it makes a few parts of my job a lot easier, especially when leading meetings, and sitting in it for two hours is tolerable instead of miserable. It wasn’t even that expensive, like $60 on Wayfair. We’d looked into a gaming chair but they were mostly out of our price range.

      1. Judge Judy and Executioner*

        I bought a gaming chair as my desk chair that has a foot rest, it was $155 on Amazon, and the brand Vigosit. It wasn’t cheap, but I worked from home 2-3 days a week and needed to replace my own desk chair.

        1. OP*

          Nice! I’m so sad because a few years ago I was temporarily working at a company that completely remodeled their headquarters, and they let employees keep their extremely nice desk chairs if they wanted since all of the office furniture was being replaced. I ended up getting one that one of my colleagues didn’t want, and it served me well for a long time, but I moved to a different country a year or two later and left it for my roommate who was WFH rather than try to haul it across the border.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Virtual background for the win.
        Personally, I’ve done client meetings from my armchair. I actually prefer to use my desk chair, but if they are early morning before other people are awake at my house, I will use my armchair and insert a background. As long as I can keep the camera tight to my face, you really can’t tell whether I’m sitting in an office chair, a recliner, or a lawn chair.

  17. Alex*

    I take all meetings from my couch. I am not dressed professionally. I am wearing fleece sweatshirts and fuzzy socks. I will spruce up a bit in the rare event I’m meeting with people outside my company. But my reclining couch is magnificent and you can’t pry me out of it!

    No one has batted an eye and plenty of people do the same. It’s not unprofessional to be comfortable!

    1. OP*

      At my job it kind of depends on the context. An informal 1:1 with my supervisor is fine but I wouldn’t want to show up to a meeting with the board of directors in my oversized tshirt that says You’re On Mute (my go-to Monday outfit).

  18. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    I have a senior coworker who moves from patio furniture to kitchen table to couch throughout the day. I don’t think twice about it, but is a little disorienting if she needs to move in the midst of a meeting because her husband starts microwaving his lunch.

    1. Freya*

      I have a friend who has been known to work from my loungeroom (complete with giant dog) when it was more conducive to productiveness than their home desk setup. We’re less than five minutes drive away and they’ve got a key and our permission, since we’re not at home and the dog appreciates the company.

  19. Lightbourne Elite*

    I dress professionally but I work from my couch all day every day and no one has yet to say anything or think less of me.

  20. Jimmy Allston*

    I would be surprised if anyone’s even noticed. If you’re blurring your background, Im sure it just looks like you’re sitting just like anyone else. You’re fine!

  21. A_Jessica*

    I agree with Alice, you should put up a picture of a retro study as your video background.
    I wouldn’t worry about this unless someone speaks to you about it.
    It’s not like you’re reclining on a chase lounge while someone is feeding you grapes.

    1. Pterodactyls are under-cited in the psychological literature*

      Petition to normalize “lying on a chaise longue while someone feeds me grapes” as a work setup.

  22. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    I made the mistake, when my oldest dog was a literal puppy, of letting her cuddle in my lap all day while I worked. Which was not a habit she broke when she got to 50 pounds. After she almost upended my desk because she heard there was a squirrel outside, I traded the standard desk chair in for a big butt-and-a-half armchair so she could fit in behind or next to me, and worked from that (at my regular desk) for seven years. (I lost custody of the giant chair when I brought home a Great Dane puppy, and now the dogs trade off the chair and I have been working at a standing desk for two years. :P I occasionally miss my chair, but if I put the desk back down to sitting height, everything on it is in danger of being slobbered because woofapotamus. So the standard desk chair is also still over in the corner, occupied by a skeleton with a laptop.)

    1. morethantired*

      this is my one mistake in working from my couch. My dogs got used to being able to sit right next to me, so if I try to work at my dining room table or kitchen island, they whine and give me sad faces.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        It was super cute when she was eight pounds. Really, it’s still cute even at 55 pounds, it’s just a lot more precarious :) And yep, now that I have the standing desk, she occasionally comes over to when I sit on the couch in my personal time and bangs on my kneecaps all “Mama, make space, I need lap snuggles.”

    2. Freya*

      If you’re on the couch and our cane corso likes you, he will line himself up, check that you’re ready for it, and do a trust fall into your lap. So we never work on a laptop sitting on the couch any more, it’s table or desk or deal with trust falls…! :-P

  23. Plume*

    Just use one of the built in fake backgrounds. Seriously no one will notice or care. I have worked from a recliner with this camera set up for years at a place that would make this A Thing.

    Bluring the background still makes it obvious but teams and zoom are really good about capturing just you with their fake backgrounds.

  24. Judge Judy and Executioner*

    I’m writing this from a recliner, where I’ve been working the last several weeks as I recover from knee surgery. I’m frequently on camera and no one has mentioned that I’m not in my home office like I used to be. I did proactively mention it to my team and my manager, and none of them have expressed any concerns or issues.

    I agree with Alison, if you have a decent relationship with your boss, mentioning it to them could help your own peace of mind. Because if it IS a big deal, it would be better to be aware than be questioning. I’m glad that you found something that helps reduce your pain.

      1. OP*

        Oooh I’m going to have to look into this! I can for sure do my job without two monitors but there are a few tasks that are easier if I can use the second screen, and we have two gorgeous curved monitors that my fiancée’s last job let her keep after she was laid off and I’d love to put the second one to better use.

  25. Lady analyst*

    Does your company have any branded or generic zoom backgrounds you can use? That would be the simplest solution

    1. OP*

      We don’t, and my biggest problem with virtual backgrounds is that for whatever reason they tend not to work for me. They get the whole back of the chair in instead of just me, which makes it even more obvious than if I just use the blur background setting.

  26. HonorBox*

    I’ve been on meetings when sitting in my recliner or on the couch. The only time it has ever been an “issue” (and I say that with quotes because it is never actually an issue to those in my meetings) is when my dog decides he’s a cat and walks behind me on the back of the couch. But otherwise, I think as long as you’re attentive, engaged and look professional, there is zero to worry about.

  27. Kyrielle*

    I am in a company where we mostly don’t have cameras on during meetings, but I don’t think anyone would bat an eye at sitting in an armchair or on a couch or at a dining room table. I wouldn’t worry about blurring any of those things, though you can. Where I’d definitely blur or move is if the background included a bathroom, an unmade bed, you in/on a bed, or something potentially divisive like a gun rack. (But I have a coworker who has made presentations while sitting in front of an instrument rack with guitars, and that was not an issue at all.)

    1. Bruce*

      I’m glad my company has normalized keeping the cameras off, I only use the camera when I think it is really needed, like for a Zoom interview… and I’ve done some of those with camera off also.

      1. Bruce*

        For one thing, with the camera off I can get up and pace around the room (wearing ear buds). I can’t stand sitting still for long meetings!

    2. Turquoisecow*

      My old boss made his home office out of his music studio so he had an electronic keyboard, several guitars and basses and a few other instruments in his background. Sometimes people would ask him about the instruments (“can you play all of those?!”) but I don’t think anyone ever thought him unprofessional.

      1. Bruce*

        I for one would have thought it was cool to be taking calls from a well equipped music room!

        1. Turquoisecow*

          I think he played bass in a band on weekends so he had a separate room for all his music stuff, and it made sense to use that for his day job rather than, like, camping out in the living room.

  28. Bruce*

    My wife is retired, but when she needed surgery on her arm we got her a powered recliner. It was a huge benefit to her, she would have had problems getting in and out of bed when she was healing, and she slept in it for the first few weeks. Even now that she has recovered it is helpful to her due to some lingering physical issues. So rock that recliner!

  29. lilsheba*

    Your comfort and health are way more important that optics. And you are at home so you should be comfortable at home. Wear what is comfortable, sit in what’s comfortable and don’t worry about what’s in the background. Work is getting done so who cares?

  30. Slow Gin Lizz*

    This letter is giving me flashbacks to my Italian classes in college. It was your usual rows of desks with chairs attached classroom, except for reasons unknown there was a small loveseat on one side of the classroom, about as fancy looking as your average patio furniture. On the first day of class I sat in it and from thenceforth used it as often as possible, to the point where several weeks into the semester it was my seat. After awhile the prof got annoyed that I was sitting there and would insinuate that he wanted me to sit elsewhere, but I was like, nah, I’m good. I had back, hand, and shoulder issues in college and it was really nice to have at least one class where I could sit comfortably. Nowadays I would definitely advocate for the comfy seat for myself.

    All this to say, OP, is that you are totally fine sitting in your recliner or sofa! In my first WFH job, before WFH was cool, I worked from the couch every day for seven years. Now, we didn’t have Zoom so no one saw me, but wow did I love that. I was just as productive in that job as I’ve been in any other desk job since.

    1. OP*

      I have a white dog but she’s like 65lbs so as much as I think she would enjoy being a lap dog (she occasionally serves as my mouse pad when I’m on the couch) I don’t know that we could get both of us and my computer in the same spot lol.

  31. Tabihabibi*

    Agree you’re probably fine as-is, but in the spirit of things that can add polish, I find the angle from a low laptop can be less flattering. I have an older USB camera on a tripod in my living room for being able to sit on the couch but show up on video at face level. Working with lighting and angles might help you feel confident skipping the desk set-up altogether: self-care always.

    1. OP*

      What’s great about my lap desk is that a section of it can be raised at an angle which gets the webcam at the perfect height and makes typing a lot easier!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It sounds like you have a way to make sure your boss is not looking up your nose, so you should be fine!

  32. A Poster Has No Name*

    Has Alison done an Ask the Readers yet on crazy stuff you’ve seen on camera?

    I think that would be highly entertaining, and I doubt an armchair or recliner (on its own, anyway) would make the top 20.

    Or 100. Or more.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Yes, but IIRC it was during the wild & wooly days of pre-vaccine Covid so I think we’re ready for a repeat.

  33. DeskApple*

    all my colleagues here in Europe are on their balconies smoking so at least here you’d be fine

  34. sara*

    When I’ve worked from an armchair, having a way of getting my camera a little higher up made it look way more like a desk/table set-up. I guess depends on the angles but for me just a big book on top of my lap desk worked but I’m sure there’s other less wonky solutions like a little laptop stand that goes on top, or even an external web cam that you can mount a little higher?

  35. TiffIf*

    If you are using Teams you can easily use the in-built fake background options – they do a good job in my opinion of not showing what you are actually sitting on. I have taken video calls sitting on my adjustable bed with the head raised all the way up and you can’t tell from the video.

    I know most teleconferencing software has the background feature I just am most familiar with Teams.

  36. Hills to Die on*

    One of the most competent coworkers I have ever met worked strictly from an armchair. My only thought about it was that he looked comfortable and made me wish I were in one.

  37. Phil*

    Every time you reference the blanket fort letter, it makes me want to set up a blanket fort to work in from home. I sure can’t be the only one.

  38. SereneScientist*

    Honestly, LW, if it makes you feel any better, I’ve been working with remote colleagues since 2016 and after a while, you really just stop paying attention to where/how people are sitting except in the most glaring instances and even then? I think people really don’t care so much; I can understand you might feel quite self-conscious but you’re probably good!

  39. CSRoadWarrior*

    I have sat in an armchair when I worked from home, and it has never been an issue. Nobody ever brought it up. In fact, I even sat on a couch at one point. It was never an issue.

    You are fine. It is very unlikely anyone will even care. If it were me, I probably wouldn’t even notice what type of chair anyone is sitting on.

  40. kalli*

    It isn’t wasteful to buy furniture that helps you do your job comfortably.

    WFH furniture can often be claimed in part or on the whole as a tax deduction, there are sometimes specific grants or funds available to employers to get these for their employees, and there are even non-profits dedicated to helping people get set up so they can work with disabilities/injuries/nonstandard desk needs.

    Especially if one is the kind of person who needs a mental separation between work and not work, having a work area that is ergonomically suitable is not a waste.

    I can do my job from my bed, but my work bought me a $300 mechanical keyboard so I don’t have to, even though they were only on the hook for 20% of it.

    At least ask the question.

    1. GythaOgden*

      I found a sale on a decent brand of gaming keyboards just after I started WFH. £25 each, so I bought two (one for work laptop, one for my gaming laptop so I can play WoW in a slightly better position on a larger screen) and they have not let me down. I do a lot of typing minutes as a departmental clerk and have started being loaned out because I have the time to be thorough, and there’s a marked difference in satisfaction between the gaming keyboards and the laptop keyboards, even at the lower price point.

      I started wearing compression gloves as well because my neurophysiologically wonky joints are starting to creak as I enter the latter part of my three score and ten, and between those two elements I’m good. I just need to get a shift on and put together the gaming chair I got with the USB powered back massager, and I’ll have the ideal set-up.

      1. kalli*

        I also have a gaming chair, which is wonderful, with a plain heat pad though. (I didn’t tell work about those or they’d probably have paid for those too.)

        The keyboard I got is a newish release and I used to swear by the Logitech Wave for ergonomics but this one, while it is straight and flat, whatever reinvention they did with the keys makes it so much more responsive – although I’m still not used to it, even with the typos my speed has gone up.

        I really hate the laptop/chiclet key style and it’s responsible for so many typos when I have to use one, in part because it makes finding the keys by touch really difficult. I have one I use for talking to people that unfortunately has the processor in it, and a lot of letters just miss because I press them and they don’t actually go anywhere, and there isn’t enough depth to respond to varied pressure to make up for it.

        It was very much a needed accommodation and there was no question about them paying for it even though I get billed out once in a blue moon.

        The difference in having proper work equipment and making do with home furniture really can’t be overstated imo.

  41. PottedPlantEnthusiast*

    Have you considered using one of the stock home office backgrounds instead of blurring yours? I have coworkers who do this and it takes care of any location issues. Are they in an armchair? On a porcelain throne? I will never know, because the stock background shows a minimalist shelf and a potted plant.

  42. BookMe!*

    I did have a coworker who joined staff meetings from an old rocking chair and the rocking was distracting…and more obvious due to his blurred Teams background! It felt pretty casual to the point of feeling unprofessional.

  43. Keymaster of Gozer (She/Her)*

    I’ve got an old spinal injury and arthritis so my sitting positions can be a little odd at times. The absolute most comfortable seat I own is the drivers seat in my car, but I’ve never had any luck trying to balance a laptop on the steering wheel and the mouse on the wing mirror..sigh.

    So when I work from home I alternate between a chair donated from a former workplace and the bed. I’ve got all my nice supportive cushions on the bed. I just make sure the pillows are blurred and the bed itself isn’t in uproar.

    Although if I could move the bookcases into view and get a pipe somewhere I’d totally rock that look.

  44. Nebula*

    My manager at my new job seems to quite often be sitting on the floor in front of her sofa when taking video calls. Sometimes she is sitting on the sofa, but I’ve never seen her sit at a desk or similar when working from home. It surprised me a bit at first, but only because to me that would be really uncomfortable – clearly works for her though! And nobody cares.

  45. Guest*

    I can’t resist:



    She needs to get fired


    In all seriousness, it sounds like Elvira is a very problematic employee even when she’s sober, so yes, her manager needs to know about this.

    (oom papa mau mau)

  46. DeeDee*

    In a previous job I had to interview members of senior leadership for a fact-finding project and one person was in a rocking chair the whole time. Rocking.

  47. MistOrMister*

    My default is standing up with my standing desk. Even in meetings. You can tell I’m standing b/c the camera angle is weird. As far as I can tell no one cares or thinks it’s unprofessional and I think the same would go for an arm chair or couch. Shoot, I argue that one of the perks of remote work is the ability to be more comfortable than our in-office counterparts. Really, as long as you are upright and being professional, people with sense don’t care what you’re sitting on. Granted, I am sure there are some lunatic bosses that would be mad to see anything but an office chair, but I’d think they are few and far between and you would likely know if your boss fit that mold.

  48. Nautical by Nature*

    While I certainly agree it’s totally fine, my partner was told during early COVID (when no one even had had time to set up home offices yet!) that they would be disqualified from a second interview if they attended over Zoom in an arm chair again (they did so in their round 1 interview). This was with a fairly prestigious business school, and they said it was “disqualifyingly unprofessional.” She obviously declined the second interview anyway because she didn’t want to work in a place like that, but I was surprised to learn that at least in some circles it wasn’t allowed/looked down on.

  49. Risky Biscuits*

    I used to sit in an armchair at my desk because that was simply the chair I had. Then I started using a wooden kitchen-table style chair, because I could push it in when I wasn’t using it. It had not ever occurred to me until now that it could matter what type of chair I was using.

  50. Free Meerkats*

    Find a photo of a generic home office and set it as your default background. Since you’ve been blurring in the past, run it through a blur filter first.

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