The new year is the perfect time to update your workspace to give yourself a fresh, clean start at work. Even if you work from home, it is important to periodically evaluate how your workspace impacts your productivity and overall health. Your physical surroundings have an effect on your mood and physical well-being in ways that we do not often think about. In this month’s blog, we offer a list of improvements to your work environment that are fairly easy to change but make a huge difference.
Never hesitate to contact us if you want to learn more about other lifestyle updates you can do to improve your health!
The Right Temperate and Lighting
Be aware of how comfortable you are at work by keeping the temperature at a pleasant level. If we are too hot or cold, our well-being and work performance suffer. If adjusting the thermostat or finding a happy middle-ground with your coworkers is not an option, our practitioners recommend regulating comfortable body temperature in other ways. This can involve individual changes that include simple things like adjusting your clothing to match your office’s temperature, leaving a sweater at work, or getting a small fan or desk heater.
Another important aspect to consider is lighting as your light intake actually regulates brain activity. Light controls your brain’s melatonin and serotine levels which impact your wakefulness, focus, and mood. Try to incorporate as much natural light as possible into your work environment to relieve any stuffy feelings and take advantage of your brain’s tendency to respond positively to natural daylight. Don’t have much natural light coming into your workspace? Fake natural light by placing a full spectrum light or even a warm lamp by your desk to incorporate some light therapy into your space. It is also important to consider lighting because poor lighting can cause eye strain and headaches. We recommend installing blinds to prevent glare and adjusting your screen brightness to shield your eyes.
Adjust Your Desk, Chair, and Monitor
The most common concern people have when thinking about improving workplace health is centred on posture. Good posture involves more than just sitting up straight at your desk. Quality workplace ergonomics lead to better posture and are crucial for good spine, back, neck and overall health. Check out our previous blog about all the health benefits attached to good posture.
Consider installing a sit-stand desk that forces you to stand upright and gives your lower half a break. Having the ability to switch between a standing and sitting position is great for your posture and can reduce the risk of injury. It is also harder to slouch at your desk while standing and it can serve as a great reminder to check your posture at work. Investing in an ergonomic chair is also a great idea if you spend a lot of time sitting at your place of work. Make sure your chair is posture friendly, has a comfortable cushion, breathable fabric, an adjustable lever in every possible way, arm support, and the ability to swivel or roll. Once you have your desk and chair perfected, don’t forget to adjust your screen height to eye level. Your screen shouldn’t be lower or higher than eye level when looking directly forward. This positioning can prevent eye and neck strain, prevent you from slouching, and improve your overall posture at work. Noticing that you might have some pain from poor posture while reading this? Give us a call to learn more about how our chiropractors can work with you to alleviate any workplace pain.
De-Clutter and Personalize Your Space
Unnecessary items on your desk or even just in eyesight at work can clutter your mind, leading to reduced productivity and more workplace stress. Remove any items that are non-essential to your day-to-day tasks and compete for your attention on your desk. Get rid of anything you do not need and then organize any non-essential items into drawers or storage so they are out of view. The same process applies to your computer desktop at work. Having too much stuff on your desktop can slow down your computer and distract your attention away from work. Take some time to delete older files and reorganize the rest into folders that take up less space. If you’re one of those people that leave millions of windows open on your internet browser, this is your reminder to close them and start fresh. Cable management is also important as you can literally and metaphorically unwind the distracting tangled cables in your area – try binder clips or a sturdy cardboard tube.
Once all the clutter is taken care of, try to personalize your space to help your work environment reflect you in some way. Add personal items like pictures, artwork, or even a computer screensaver to increase your connection to work and limit work alienation. Plants are another great way to make your space more unique and are a great way to combat any of the common artificial feeling of your work surroundings. Plants also provide better air quality and a more positive environment by uplifting your mood.
Move Around on Breaks
This one seems obvious but we often forget to keep it in mind throughout the busy workday. Make sure you get up and stretch to prevent any stiffness or strain to your body. Schedule little breaks throughout the day that involves getting up and moving your body. Take this as an excuse to walk over to coworker’s desk for some socialization which is great for preventing feelings of isolation and anxiety at work. Every time you leave your desk to refill your coffee cup or water bottle, be mindful of any stiffness and do some stretches on the walk back to your desk. Schedule these drink breaks and keep your water bottle in arms reach to increase your overall health, productivity, and memory. Read more about the importance and health benefits of staying hydrated in our previous blog.
Keep these four simple updates in mind for your next workday to begin enhancing your working environment. This type of workspace check-in is especially important for those who spend a significant amount of time at work. Even just investing a few minutes to think about improvements can greatly impact your health.