When you spend a significant amount of hours at your desk every day, almost every feature of your workspace can significantly affect your health and productivity.
Even the tiniest of features such as adjusting the height of your chair or controlling the lighting of your workspace can’t be taken for granted.
This article outlines the tips to help you set up your workspace matters properly so can stay productive and healthy all year round. Enjoy!
Critical Elements of an Ideal Workspace
The quality of lighting in your workspace affects both your well-being and mood. Poor lighting – be it harsh lighting emanating from overhead fluorescent lights or dim lighting – can result in stress, fatigue, and eyestrain.
A great alternative is a natural light. It’s one of the best sources of light you can opt for.
Research, dating back to as early as 1979, shows that natural light and views help to improve mood and morale, reduce stress, aid concentration, and decrease anxiety.
Another study also suggests that workers whose office spaces get light exposure through windows tend to sleep longer and better at night. In addition, they tend to exhibit more physical activity compared to their counterparts who get minimal light exposure or whose offices don’t have windows at all.
Why is regular exposure to sunlight so important?
Sunlight aids your body to maintain its internal clock or circadian rhythms, which dictate both your sleep and energy. Sunlight also helps maintain your brain’s release of a hormone known as serotonin, which enables you to feel calm and focused.
If you have a say on where your office should be located, choose a space with a window so that you can enjoy the benefits of natural light. Conversely, if you lack control over lighting at your workspace and aren’t fortunate enough to have an office near a window, strive to get outside more during your breaks.
You can also purchase a desk lamp that mimics daylight.
The position of your light sources is one more thing to consider about your office’s lighting. Although you need plenty of uniform light to let you work without straining, ensure the lighting isn’t too much that it causes glare on your computer.
You shouldn’t sit with your back facing the window unless you have some shades installed. Also, don’t sit facing a window because you will strain reading your monitor.
It’s a common phenomenon in most offices: employees battling each other for the right to control the thermostat.
In an ideal situation, you should have control over the temperature of your workspace, so that it matches your preferred comfort level.
But that’s not always the case.
Nevertheless, if you have some control over what temperature the office thermostat should be set to, it doesn’t hurt to lean toward the warmer side.
A study by Cornell University researchers discovered that raising office temperature from 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, caused workers’ errors to fall by 44 percent. They also managed to type 150 percent more.
Although this study doesn’t account for several factors such as personal preferences, try to experiment with your workspace temperature to see what works for you.
Consider buying a small fan if your workspace gets too warm or have a sweater nearby if you don’t have a say on what the office temperature should be set to.
Listening to good sounds while working is helpful, but having to deal with noise can be detrimental to your productivity.
If you work at an open office layout, it’s easy to be distracted by the simplest of things such as people’s conversations or even their keyboard clicks.
You may also have to deal with noisy construction workers and landscapers. Don’t forget the numerous notifications you get on your phone, which prevent you from working seamlessly.
It's difficult to drown all this noise when you are trying to focus on your work. A great solution is to use a pair of quality noise-canceling headphones. Add in some soothing background music, your preferred video game soundtrack playlist, familiar music, electronica, or Coffivity’s coffeehouse-like background chatter, and you are good to go.
Research shows that classical music, more so that of the Baroque period, tends to boost overall productivity. Try experimenting with different kinds of music to determine what serves you best.
Color can be a powerful tool for setting the tone for a given mood. Also, any color can be productive, depending on the type of boost you require.
According to Angela Wright, a color psychologist, colors can make us think, feel, and act in certain ways. For instance,
Blue can aid in communication and concentration and stimulate thought. But to some, it might seem unemotional and cold
Red can stimulate our pulses and is warming and energizing. But some people might perceive it as aggressive.
Green can be reassuring and balancing, but it might be perceived as bland depending on how it's used.
Yellow helps lift spirits and is stimulating; however, the wrong tone of it can stimulate anxiety.
Violet helps encourage contemplation; however, too much of it could cause excessive introspection.
Pink can be soothing; nevertheless, too much of it can be draining.
Orange is fun and stimulating; however, excessive use can be overwhelming
Gray is psychologically neutral, and unless the right tone is used, it can be depressing.
Pink is soothing; however, excessive use can be draining.
Black is sophisticated and serious. Nonetheless, it can be heavy depending on how you use it.
Brown is serious, solid, and supportive. It’s warmer than black.
White offers a boosted perception of space. It can, however, be a strain to look at.
Take these color meanings into consideration when purchasing desks and desk accessories or when choosing paint for your workplace.
Don’t take plants for granted. Incorporating a plant or two in your workspace could help promote productivity and happiness.
Researchers found that indoor plants help to prevent fatigue when performing attention-demanding work. Even just having a peek of live greenery through the window can improve your focus. That’s because it’s restorative.
Psychologists at Exeter university claim that having a plant at your desk can give you a 15 percent boost in productivity. In short, nature is good for you.
But one challenge that comes with having a plant is caring for it, so it stays alive. The good news is that it isn’t as hard as it might seem.
One solution is to buy a peace lily. It’s an easy plant to care for because of two primary reasons: it requires minimal sunlight to survive, and you don’t need to water it often, except when the soil dries out.
The plant usually droops but gets back right up when you water it.
According to NASA, peace lilies, just like several other plants, also aid in cleaning the air. Consequently, you are left with a clean environment that helps boost your productivity and wellbeing.
Apart from peace lilies, other plants such as Aloe and cacti plants can also complement your office space nicely. However, if you are up for the task, any plant can do the job.
Setting Up Your Desk Ergonomically
Another critical aspect you should consider when setting up your workspace matters is workspace ergonomics. It refers to how safely and efficiently you can operate at your desk. It deals with setting up your office environment to avoid problems such as fatigue, back pain, or repetitive strain injury (RSI) and stay healthy.
Corporate offices usually hire ergonomic consultants to help set up workers’ workstations to lower the risk of injury and increase productivity.
What if your organization doesn’t believe ergonomics is as important as it’s made out to be? You’ll need to take charge yourself and think ergonomically.
Here’s what you should keep in mind:
The Ideal Desk Height
Ideally, your desk should allow you to type on your keyboard with your hands and arms almost parallel to the floor. Also, your feet should stay flat on the floor, and your legs should fit comfortably under the desk when you are seated.
Get a stand-up desk to help you achieve this recommended posture.
Our stand up desks offers you almost everything you want a desk to have.
The SmartDesk 2 (both the home edition and business edition) lets you switch between standing and sitting mode. This functionality is beneficial to you since sitting all day is associated with numerous health problems, from spine damage to obesity to increased blood pressure.
Standing all day also comes with its challenges. The solution is to alternate between standing and sitting. That’s where the SmartDesk 2 comes in. It’s the perfect adjustable-height desk that lets you switch to a more active lifestyle.
Once you are done setting up your desk, the next area of focus ought to be your chair. It’s advisable to use an ergonomic chair, especially if you sit for extended periods.
Here are factors to consider when shopping for an ergonomic office chair:
Seat depth: a chair that suits you well lets you sit with your lower back comfortably rested against the lumbar support, while allowing an inch or two of space between the seat and the back of your knees. Ideally, you should be able to fit three or four fingers between the edge of the seat and your legs while seated.
Lumbar support: the curve incorporated in the back of the chair ought to support your lower spine. It should be in line with the natural curve of your back.
Chair height: the chair should allow you to adjust the height until you can place your feet on the floor or a footrest.
Material: for the chair to last long enough, it must be made from a durable material. The foam seats of cheap chairs don’t usually last long.
Recline-ability: rather than sit at a 90-degree angle throughout, you could recline at about a 135-degree angle, which might be better for your spine.
Armrest: armrests should be appropriately placed so that you don’t hunch your shoulders. Always make sure your arms stay parallel to the floor.
Proper monitor placement is also vital. Poor monitor placement could result in improper posture, eyestrain, shoulder problems, and more. Here are guidelines to keep you healthy and productive in front of your monitor:
Place your laptop screen or monitor 20”-40” in front of you
Ensure the top line of the screen falls precisely at or below your eye level
Make sure the monitor is perpendicular to windows
Don’t tilt the monitor beyond 10 to 20 degrees
If you experience headaches, dry eyes, or eyestrain after staring at your monitor for long hours, give specially tinted computer glasses a try. You could also consider purchasing an anti-reflective coating for your prescription glasses. Most importantly remember to take regular breaks from your monitor.
The 20-20-20 rule teaches us to look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes to promote healthy eyes.
Proper Keyboard and Mouse Placement
Just like the monitor, the keyboard and mouse also have an ideal placement.
The keyboard should be placed close enough to your body to prevent strain on your elbows and shoulders. Furthermore, your keyboard should be low enough so your arms are almost parallel to the flow and your wrist are angled downwards or are flat.
Consider getting a keyboard tray or stand that positions the keyboard correctly. Also, be sure to get a wrist rest to prevent your wrists from bending up and provide more comfort.
Always use a mouse that’s of a comfortable size for your hands. A mouse that’s either too big or too small may result in strain or injury to your wrists.
There you have it. Setting your workspace matters isn’t as hard as it might seem. The set up should be specific to your preferences, needs and wants. Your workspace is where you accomplish your tasks and achieve your goals and objectives. It should inspire creativity and productivity and support your health and wellbeing. Hopefully, the above-mentioned tips will help you optimize your workspace set up, so you stay energized, happy, productive, and healthy throughout. In addition, invest in a proper footrest, keyboard tray, or a chair that allows you to adjust the set height.
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