How to design a healthy workspace
After a busy year, your workspace may need a refresh.
Between juggling meetings, daily tasks, and larger projects, your desk and routine can be thrown off-kilter. And though it can feel like you’re too busy to waste time getting things in order, it might be worth the effort.
According to research by the International Data Corporation, a messy desk can lead to hours of lost time and add stress to a workday. And in contrast, an organized desk can lead to generally feeling better at and about your work.
We're providing tips and insights for designing a better, healthier workspace to help you get your desk on track for improved focus and efficiency.
Organize personal spaces
Organizing your desk area can make you feel better and more confident when starting your day, leading to better productivity. So what are some improvements that you could make to your desk?
1. Sort your hardcopies and supplies into storage containers
According to the National Association of Professional Organizers, the average person wastes 4.3 hours per week searching for papers or misplaced items at work. If you’re in the middle of a task, searching can take you away from concentrating, efficient workflow, and creative thinking. Organizing your paperwork, materials, and resources into cabinets and storage containers keeps everything easily accessible.
2. Thoughtfully choose the items you decorate with
Working in an environment with natural greenery and light has been shown to produce healthier employees. Office plants add aesthetic value and have added health benefits: plants naturally remove toxins from the air, filtering in cleaner and more breathable oxygen. Taking out dust and boosting humidity are natural sources of healthier office living.
Additionally, bringing personal items or pictures of family and friends can help you commit to transitional times and breaks. Activities during transitional time include:
- Marking the beginning and end of your work day
- Taking time to think about or connect with loved ones on a break
- Taking note of a motivational quote framed on your desk that reminds you what you’re working for
Support good physical health
Being sedentary at a desk for eight hours a day can result in severe stress on our bodies.
Statistics from the Bureau of Labor show that ergonomics-related injuries require more time off the job than those with other types of workplace injuries or illnesses. On average, employees take 11 days off from work for ergonomic injuries versus eight days for alternate injuries.
To ensure health and safety in the workplace, several updates could be made to how and where employees spend most of their days.
1. Ensure your seat and monitor are set up correctly
Configuring your deskspace to your natural body positioning will ensure less strain on your neck and muscles, making the workday more comfortable. Ensure that your monitor is adjusted to an appropriate height to keep your neck, shoulders, and back from being strained. And when possible, work from a seat that provides lumbar (spine and muscular) support.
Poor office ergonomics can lead to lower energy, making you more prone to mistakes and missing essential details on the job. So having an appropriate workspace isn’t just good for avoiding injury but also helpful for your workflow.
2. Make sure you're getting proper nutrition
Staying hydrated throughout the day is critical. Physical benefits such as lubricating your joints and cleansing your system are important as a lack of water has been shown to significantly hinder cognitive performance.
The food we eat throughout the day has a profound effect on our performance. The World Health Organization states that proper nutrition can raise productivity by as much as 20%.
Staying nourished goes a long way, so consider keeping non-perishable snacks around your desk and kitchen. This could include nuts and seeds containing vitamin E, with antioxidants that are shown to slow cognitive decline as you age. Inserting whole grains into your lunch provides fullness and gives you proper fiber in your diet.
3. Stand and move around throughout the day
Taking time away from your desk is just as important as the time you spend at it. Standing up for micro-breaks to make coffee, walking around the block, or even just looking out the window can help with productivity and focus.
Moving to work in communal spaces can also positively impact your health and productivity. Being around other employees can foster new ideas and invite new perspectives into your thinking, making you more creative and connected to your colleagues.
Creating your healthy workspace
Taking care of yourself and your desk space is essential in maintaining a steady work balance, but note that “workplace wellness” doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution.
Asking yourself or your colleagues what will make your workplace feel healthier can help everyone find a balance that works for them. Once you have an idea of what will work, keeping these tips in mind can help with your day-to-day, and being consistent with them will lead to better performance in the long term in your career.
Interested in a workplace wellness guide?
Define what health, safety, and wellbeing look like for your office.