Good Habits for Great Work: 11 Tips for a Healthier Workspace
A New, Remote Way of Living
With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing us to work and study from home, creating an effective workspace is more important than ever. Your workspace should not only be functional for everyday work, but it should also contribute to your physical and mental health. In this article, we will discuss some ways to effectively upgrade your workspace.
Physically Setting Up Your Space
Your workspace's physical set-up is crucial in creating a safe and comfortable working environment. Ergonomic furniture is designed to complement the human body, considering factors such as posture, back support, distribution of weight, comfort, and movement. Any computer equipment should be properly set up as well.
- Chair: Choosing the right chair is crucial for your workspace. Sitting on a non-ergonomic chair puts you at risk of musculoskeletal disorders, improper posture, and back pain. Look for a chair with multiple adjustable parts to keep your joints and tissues in a neutral position with feet flat on the floor and knees at hip-level. This reduces the risk of injury and strain, providing you with more energy to focus on your work without distractions.
- Monitor: Position your monitor directly in front of you at an arm's length away and slightly below eye level. A monitor that is too high or too low can lead to neck pain and headaches.
- Keyboard: Place your keyboard below your workspace to maintain proper ergonomic positioning. The height of the keyboard should be even with your elbows, and the keyboard should be close to the edge of the desk to avoid reaching.
Once You’ve Set Up Your Space…
There are sensory details and factors beyond your workspace that should be considered as well.
- Lighting: Lighting is a critical factor in creating an effective workspace. Ensure that your workspace is well-lit with lamps or bright white room lights to prevent eye strain. Angle your screens to prevent glare with lighting or nearby sunlight from windows.
- Noise: Set up your workspace in a quiet environment free from distractions. Loud environments can be very distracting and hinder your work when you are fully focused. If you can't avoid noise, consider using noise-canceling headphones to minimize distractions.
- Air: Poor indoor air quality can lead to symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and allergies, which can negatively impact productivity and overall well-being. To improve air quality, try incorporating plants into your workspace, using air purifiers or filters, and regularly cleaning and dusting your workspace. Additionally, taking short breaks to step outside for fresh air can also be beneficial. By paying attention to air quality, you can create a healthier and more productive workspace.
Implementing Good Work Habits
Having the ideal workstation is all good and well, but you will likely only see a difference in your day-to-day life if you are engaging with it in a healthy manner. This places an emphasis on good work habits that strike a balance between productivity and self-care.
- Snacks: Healthy snacks are essential to maintain energy levels and focus while working. Fresh popcorn without preservatives, nuts such as almonds, baked veggie chips, string cheese, seaweed, and granola are some great options. Avoid sugary and high-calorie snacks that can lead to an energy crash.
- Hydration: Staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining energy levels and avoiding stomach cramps. Remember to always have water near your workspace and drink water regularly throughout the day.
- Breaks: Taking regular breaks is essential to maintain productivity and prevent burnout. It is important to maintain blood circulation by getting out of your seat to stretch. This reduces fatigue, prevents aches and pains, and keeps you energized. During breaks, avoid electronic screens if most of your work involves staring at a monitor for hours. Consider taking a walk or doing some light exercise to refresh your mind and body.
- Exercise: Incorporating physical activity into your workday is an essential part of maintaining good work habits. Regular movement can help to improve blood circulation, reduce fatigue, prevent aches and pains, and promote overall physical and mental well-being. Try taking breaks to stretch, going for a walk, or doing some quick exercises to help keep your body and mind active and engaged throughout the day.
- Standing Workspaces: Sitting for long periods can lead to chronic pain and health problems. Consider using a standing desk to keep your body more active, contribute to increased productivity, and reduce the risk of chronic pain. Standing desks come in different shapes and sizes and can be adjusted to fit your needs. Some standing desks even come with a built-in treadmill that allows you to walk while working.
Customizing your workspace is crucial for taking care of your daily, professional, personal, and health needs in the long run. Prioritizing healthy habits such as taking breaks, staying hydrated, and incorporating physical activity into your routine will help you put your best efforts forward. Remember, everyone has different needs and preferences, so tailor your workspace to your individual needs by experimenting with different setups until you find what works best for you.
Creating a routine and structure for your workday, setting specific work hours, establishing boundaries between work and personal time, and prioritizing self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, and hobbies are all important for promoting overall well-being. Embrace a positive mindset, prioritize self-care, and recognize the value of a healthy work-life balance. By following these tips, you can create an effective workspace that promotes productivity, creativity, and overall well-being, reflecting your values and priorities.
Written by: Aaliyah Sherfuddin
Edited by: Camden Rowe
This content was edited in-part using OpenAI's ChatGPT and reviewed, further edited, and approved for publication by Ospina Medical's blog manager.