The coronavirus pandemic has irrevocably changed how we think about desk work and office jobs. Even before the pandemic, employers and employees were starting to change their approach to desk work. The rise of hot-desking and co-working spaces and increasingly flexible work-from-home options meant that fewer people were tied to a single workspace from Monday to Friday.
However, the downside of this is that an increasing number of people have found themselves in temporary workspaces that may not be well set up for comfort and productivity.
Whether you’re working from home or the office, having a well set up, personalise and comfortable workspace is vital.
Why is it important?
The average office worker can spend upwards of 1,500 to 1,700 hours at their desk each year. Besides your bed, you spend more time at your workstation than anywhere else. And this can be incredibly bad for you. Excessive sitting and bad posture can cause or exacerbate a range of health problems including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, as well as musculoskeletal problems and obesity.
Poor air quality around your workspace can cause respiratory problems and poor lighting can cause vision problems.
Your workspace can also have an effect on your productivity, your ability to concentrate, your mood and your mental health.
While a good office fit out will set you up with well laid out workspaces, it’s often left up to you to put the finishing touches on your workspace. And if you’re working from home, you may have to start from scratch. Luckily, there are several easy things you can do to enhance your workspace.
- Protect your posture
There are plenty of reasons why sitting for extended periods of time is bad for your health. So it’s essential that you set up your workspace to ensure the best possible posture. First, you should invest in a high-quality ergonomic office chair.
You should also spend some time getting your posture right and setting up the desk properly. Ensure that your chair is set at the right height so that your knees are about level with your hips. The armrests should be set so your arms and wrists are straight with the hands at or below elbow level. You should also ensure that your computer monitor and mouse and keyboard are set at the right height and distance.
You could also consider setting yourself up a standing desk. Standing desks offer a range of health benefits. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that a standing desk is no substitute for simply taking breaks and going for a work on your lunch break.
- Light matters
Lighting matters. A lot. Poor lighting in your workspace can add significant eye strain. Besides damaging your vision, eye strain can adversely affect your ability to concentrate and even lead to feelings of fatigue.
When it comes to workspace lighting, you should aim for natural light where possible. However, it’s important to beware of the movement of the sun throughout the day and avoid periods of glare or harsh reflection on your computer screen.
If you don’t get much natural light, make sure you get the right amount and the right kind of artificial light. Where you can, switch out fluorescent lights for LED lights. It’s also worth noting that blue light from digital devices can contribute to eye strain, so it may be worth investing in a blue light filter for your computer screen.
- Add a touch of green
Adding a plant or two to your workspace can reduce stress and improve creativity and concentration. If you’re the kind of person who tends to kill houseplants, then look for indoor plants that will thrive without much attention. Indoor plants provide the added benefit of helping to purify the air, especially if you go for plants like peace lilies or a philodendron.
- Purify the air
Speaking of air purification: while a plant can help to cleanse the air, you may also want to invest in an air purifier. Poor air quality can exacerbate respiratory problems like asthma and irritate the eyes and skin. It can also affect your ability to concentrate and increase feelings of fatigue.
An air purifier will remove harmful airborne particles like dust, pollen and bacteria, before recirculating clean, purified air. Before purchasing, do your research to make sure you get a model with a silent mode so it won’t distract you while you’re trying to work.
- Personalise the space
While you want to avoid workspace clutter, you also don’t want a workspace that’s completely devoid of personality. Whether it’s a splash of colour in the form of an artwork, some family photos or your favourite coffee mug, adding a few personal touches will help to make the space your own and avoid the mind-numbing sterility that plagues too many offices.
- Get the tech right
Whether you’re working from home or at the office, having the right tech can help in a range of ways. If you’re working from a laptop, you’ll want to invest in a good dock and monitor and a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.
If your work requires high levels of concentration, then a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones will be a lifesaver.
The coronavirus pandemic has irrevocably changed how we think about desk work and office jobs. It’s important that we use this as an opportunity to rethink how we work and make sure we are creating the best workspaces for ourselves.