Having the right work environment and space for your work is important for you and your employee’s wellbeing.
Chances are that if you are an office worker you will spend a lot of time in front of your computer. So, whether you work from a desk at home or in a commercial office, there are things you can do to make your work environment better for your health and wellness.
We spoke with Emma-Louise Fusari of In-house Health, who gave us her advice, on easy but effective ways to help create a healthier work environment.
Sit near a window if possible. Getting natural daylight has shown to reduce stress levels and keep your circadian rhythm in check – keeping you alert. A desk light rather than an overhead light can also help reduce eye strain.
Spend less time sitting
If you are spending a long time at your desk, make sure that you are getting up regularly to stand or walk around. Studies have shown that doing this is not only good for you physically, but it can increase productivity and mental focus. To avoid health risks, that are increased by being sedentary, it is recommended that you stand up or walk around for at least 2 hours a day.
Try a sitting/standing ergonomic desk
If you can afford it, or if your workplace agrees, switching to a sitting/standing desk can help you with moving more during the day.
Do some mini work outs
Some simple stretches and strength moves, little and often add up over the day. Keep some resistance bands or wrist/ankle weights on your desk to remind you to take an exercise break! Swap your chair for 10 mins exercise a few times a day. Not got equipment, no problem – use your office furniture for exercises such as triceps dips and bus stops (remember to check that your chair doesn’t have wheels on it)!!
Set up your desk correctly
When sitting ensure your hips are as far back as they can go in the chair and adjust the seat height, so your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are the same level or slightly lower than your hips. The top of the display screen should be around eye level (seated) and your arms should be bent at 90 degrees to reach the keyboard. This should help avoid lower back, neck and arm pain.
Improve the air quality
Some office environments can trigger allergies. This can be caused by cleaning chemicals, poor ventilation and dust. Even if you don’t have symptoms, low quality air can lower your concentration levels. It may be out of your control in an office but if you work from home you can hoover regularly, open a window or get an air purifier. Some plants may even improve the air quality in your office, whilst also inspiring creativity and a feeling of wellness.
Avoid eating at your desk
Eating lunch away from your desk, wont just keep crumbs out of your keyboard, it can help you reset for an afternoon of productivity. Chat with others, go for a walk – you deserve a proper break. Another benefit of not eating at your desk, is that if you eat while you are distracted you are more likely to over eat, and we don’t want that do we!?!
Pay attention to your posture
What is worse than sitting all day? Slouching! Slouching makes you feel tired and lazy, as well as contributing to back and neck pain. Sit up tall and feel that sense of accomplishment! Some of the tips above should help improve posture.
Bring your pet along
I know, your employer is unlikely to let you bring your dog/cat/hamster to work, but if you work from home or in a pet friendly office, there is hope! People who have their dogs with them while working reduce their occupational stress and boost their work satisfaction. Research has also shown that other people that encounter the animals also feel less stressed too!
Well there you have it, some tips to get you thinking. Did you know the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime? If most of your work involves using a computer, then you will be sitting down quite a lot! The Solution? MOVE. Take the stairs, stand up, sit down, stand up again, just get away from your desk as often as possible to benefit from a healthier workplace.