We’ve all heard the expression “sitting is the new smoking”. This is no surprise given how many of us spend hours on end hunched over a laptop or a computer screen, typing away. This goes for everybody, from junior web developers at a local start-up to the CEO of an international coffee company. The fact is, it’s easy to get so focused on work that we begin to neglect our bodies. We forget to blink, to stay hydrated, to stretch when our shoulders cramp. Meanwhile, without even realizing it, we’re putting so much extra strain on our backs and that regular visits to the physiotherapist have become common, just from sitting down to long.
So how can we begin to address the physical challenges of being an office worker?
One of the simplest changes you can make to improve your daily working life is to invest in ergonomic office workstations. This doesn’t just mean purchasing an adjustable chair – unfortunately, adjusting the height of a chair simply doesn’t fix all problems. An adjustable height workstation can go a long way in working with your ergonomic office chair in ensuring that your workstation is perfectly suited to you.
The fact is, not everybody is built the same. Even two people of the same height may have different limb and torso lengths. As such, workstation settings for one person will not be as comfortable or as well suited for the next. In fact, using the wrong adjustments for your body’s needs can be harmful to your physical and mental wellbeing, in addition to being detrimental to your productivity.
Hot Desking in Comfort
As technology becomes more ubiquitous and remote work grows in popularity, companies have begun to adopt ‘hot desking’ or other similar practices to save money on empty workstations. This basically means that workers no longer have a place to call their ‘own’. Instead, common workstations are available to employees in a first-come-first-serve basis, with belongings being stashed in storage lockers.
Some people don’t mind, but a lot of people find this impersonal approach to working a source of frustration, if not downright pain. When workstations are designed with a general population in mind, they alienate people who may be left-handed, dyslexic, injured, or visually-impaired. Even for those of us who fall into the ‘norm’, standardized workstations still aren’t very comfortable.
In order to improve the quality of employees’ lives, companies must ensure that workstations can be customized by workers to suit their physical needs. This means purchasing items like an adjustable height workstation, an ergonomic office chair and other modular office furniture. This may seem costly at first, but workers will be happier, more comfortable, and less prone to injuries sustained from poor posture.
Tips for Maximum Comfort
Improving your work environment can involve numerous steps. While investing in the fanciest leather office chair might make you feel better on the first day, without taking a holistic approach to improving your space, the benefits won’t be long-term.
Here are some tips to maximize your comfort.
- Customize your seating arrangement. The most expensive office chair will still be a useless one if you’re five feet away from the desk with your legs dangling off of it. Adjust the height, ensuring that you are close to the workstation and that your feet are flat on the ground or on some sort of elevated support. Don’t lower your seat too much – your elbows should be level with the desk at a 90 degree angle and your computer screen should be at eye-level (use a separate keyboard if you have a laptop), which is why having a desk with an adjustable height it also important.
- Try standing. If you have an adjustable height workstation, try alternating between sitting and standing. It’ll save your back, plus changing positions will force you to do loosen up your body for a quick second. While you won’t be able to stay on your feet for very long, this shouldn’t be a problem… you’re supposed to give your eyes a break every twenty minutes anyway!
- Improve the lighting. As you work long hours, the sun may set without even realizing it, and suddenly you’ll realize that you’ve been working in the dark for hours. Not cool! Make sure you have good general lighting, in addition to special lighting for whatever special documents you may need to examine up close. Natural sources of lighting are also extremely important to your mental well-being.
On another note, computers emit a lot of blue light. Blue light is everywhere and occurs naturally, but too much of it can be detrimental to your eyes. This is especially true to those of you who have had cataract surgery. There are many free apps available that will regulate your computer’s blue light emissions, ensuring that you get just enough of it during the day – but not so much that your eyes are constantly strained and that your sleep cycle is disturbed.
Workplace comfort is an important aspect of modern life. Employees today are not willing to sacrifice their physical and mental well-being in the name of productivity according to this study. If you treat your body well by investing in proper customizable office furniture, lighting and by taking frequent breaks, your happiness and productivity levels will increase – or at the very least, remain constant instead of dipping two hours into your day!