Do you want to know the best way to kill productivity in your work day? Set up your office with back splintering, neck breaking, carpel-tunnel-inducing office furniture – which is exactly what most people do (unintentionally of course).
In all seriousness, did you know that ergonomic office furniture can reduce fatigue and increase your productivity at work?
It took me years to come to terms with the fact that my office setup had a huge impact on how I worked. Believe me, I loved my job almost as much as my wife (just kidding, Erica). I am one of those fortunate ones to be blessed with a job that I am so passionate about…and because it’s virtual I can work from wherever I want to in the world.
In those early years when we were getting the consultation business off the ground we were putting in A LOT of hours. And since the computer is where we work, it didn’t take long for me to realize that our office setup was not conducive for a highly productive day.
In fact it was slowly killing my enthusiasm, focus and productivity. I still loved what I was doing but that energy and hunger I had a few years ago, was melting slowly. It looked to me as if I was doing everything right; my daily routine was just so perfect. A balanced diet, early to bed, early morning wake up, I mean everything…
But then I would sit down at the desk and work a 10+ hour day. My back would be shredded, my eyes would be on fire and my neck was sore and strained. I even started to get aches in my wrists…a sign of inflammation and carpal tunnel.
I decided to talk it out with friends and experts. Advice poured in and yes, some of it worked. But what really saved me was a few tweaks to my office setup and some ergonomic office furniture. No, I am not trying to sell anything.
I am writing this for a nobler cause – helping you create an environment to battle work fatigue, substantially increase productivity and save yourself from the sedentary lifestyles that exist today.
Sedentary lifestyle is a like a new form of cancer. It’s becoming a new kind of “normal” – much too prevalent and it increases the risk of obesity and other chronic conditions.
In case you were starting to sweat bullets just thinking about the cost of a high end ergonomic office, you can take it easy. You do not have to setup a Google-like go-cart track inside your workspace. A few design tweaks and some ergonomic office furniture are all that you need.
So, these are the few changes that made my office life great once again, and helped me rediscover myself as an entrepreneur.
1 – Save the Right Seat
No prizes for guessing that. It’s obvious that a comfortable chair and table is a must for “a great office setup.” But there are a few things you should know before buying the best or the most ergonomic office furniture. Fortunately, I’ve had some great people telling me what to do.
First things first, how do you decide if you really need to change your existing office chairs and desks or a complete workplace makeover? It’s very simple. If you find yourself moving, stretching and adjusting too often to stay focused, it may be time for a change. Back pains, eye strains, body aches and fatigue are clear indications that you do not have the best of chairs and tables.
In a modern-day office environment, where you sit for most of the day, it is important that you feel like a ‘Maharaja on the throne’ with a chair and table that best fits your body.
Some quick ergonomic changes you can try:
1 – Ensure that your eyes are at least 24 to 36 inches away from the monitor. The monitor screen you are looking at should be straight to your eye or below the eye level.
2- Keep your feet relaxed on the floor or get yourself an ergonomic footrest. I also like the Rock N’ Stop by Relax the Back. It helps to keep the feet active while you’re sitting at your desk, boosting circulation which helps increase metabolism. It also helps me to sit properly in my office chair.
3- Get an adjustable chair and recline its back slightly; a reclined backrest is the best posture for your spine and lower back.
If you work in an organization:
- Ask for a reclining chair. Place a pillow to support your lower back or buttocks, if that makes you comfortable.
- Give your wrists a break. These days, keyboards come with separate armrests that are ergonomically designed to rest your wrists and hands.
- Have a wireless keyboard and mouse so that you have more freedom and range of motion to set up your office space comfortably.
If you work in a home office or have your own workspace:
If you work in a home office or have your own office like I do, you must consider yourself extremely blessed. Why? Because you can revamp your workspace the way you want.
Here are some very effective ergonomic office furniture pieces you can buy.
1- Invest in a good chair. It is important to try different types of chairs before deciding which one is the most comfortable for you. Muvman chairs are a favorite for me. These chairs are fantastically designed for sitting/standing, flexibility, movement and height adjustments. I like to alternate between sitting on the Muvman and standing throughout the day.
2- Get a standing desk. It’s a known fact that people who sit too much are vulnerable to heart disease, diabetes, and early death. A standing desk can give you the right balance between sitting and standing, by simply adjusting the height of the desk. This is hands down one of the best investments I ever made into my office – really, into my entire business!
3- Invest in a walking desk. Sometimes I sit on my couch wondering if there is anything else left for science and technology to offer us. But every now and then it surprises us with unimaginable innovations. How about a walking desk?
Now this creative thing could be a perfect solution for all “couch potato entrepreneurs.” For busy entrepreneurs who find it challenging to dedicate time to exercise, this is your best bet. You can now shake your legs and give your body some workout without interrupting your office tasks.
As is the case with all major tech innovations, walking desks have had their share of criticism too. Is it really possible to walk and work? Well, I would say yes and no. When I really need to focus and get in the zone I’m not going to use the treadmill.
But for email responses, or if I’m just reading a document or even Skype calls that are more brainstorming sessions than formal meetings…I say, why not?
2- Lighting is a Game Changer (for Better or Worse…)
You do not want to be working in the dark unless you’re plotting a perfect crime plan (just joking). On a serious note, lighting is one of the most overlooked factors or least-invested setups in an office space. It is important to work in a well-lit environment if you want to stay focused, feel inspired and enjoy a highly productive work day.
Poor lighting can result in eyestrain, fatigue, headache and even depression. Not to mention, the blue light emitted from our computer screens and phones can also do a number on the eyes if we’re not careful. Eye strain is the worst kind of fatigue and it’s something I really struggled with before I started wearing blue light blocking glasses.
Before I started using them, I’d conclude the workday feeling like my eyes were so inflamed and burning. Now, I wear blue light blockers every day (and even while I’m not working) to minimize eye strain and stay focused throughout the day. I like these by Gunnar Optiks.
If you work in a company:
There’s not much you can do about the office lighting setup. If you can use natural light that’s the ideal scenario. Other than that, you might try a light therapy device which you can easily carry to your office.
Ergonomic office furniture like this can actually enhance your productivity by helping you focus better. And of course, invest in a good pair of blue light blocking glasses to eliminate eye strain.
Poor lighting refers to both dim lighting as well as heavy lighting overhead. Natural sunlight is the best light you can have. That’s exactly why it’s always good to go outside frequently for breaks. And since most people are Vitamin D deficient, getting outside for breaks will kill two birds with one stone. A daylight-stimulating desk lamp at your workplace is also great option if you can’t get outside.
Sitting near a window is good but you need to ensure that the sunlight isn’t causing a glare on your computer screen. Avoid sitting with your front or back facing the window to ensure greater visibility.
If you are working from a home-based office:
Let in more natural light by opening the doors and windows. Fresh air is also important for your work environment. On cloudy days, use lighting and lamps in different areas.
I have also added a couple of floor lamps to my office. They not only add more style and richness to my space, but make me feel a lot better while I am at work.
3- Do Consider the Decor
While ergonomic office furniture can increase your comfort and reduce the strain on your body, there are a few other factors that can enhance your mood and brain function, help you focus better and enjoy a productive work day. Time and again, studies have shown that the painting of your room and the different colored furniture and decorations can evoke an emotional response.
If you haven’t heard of this philosophy before, you may find it hard to believe. I laughed at it when I first heard of it. These psychological factors are sometimes hard to understand and there are no hard and fast rules as to what colors you must choose. One thing is for sure – choosing colors that make you happy can also inspire you and make your day much better.
What you can do if you are working in a company:
Bring in decorative items from home like a flower vase or office items like postcards or simple blocks that are colorful and pleasing to the eyes.
If you work in a home-based office or your own workspace:
Home-based workers certainly have more control over the different colors around them. Depending on your budget and taste, there are so many things you can do from repainting your walls to adding more colors on your work table to hanging colorful paintings on your walls.
Remember, too much of anything can spoil the fun, even colors.
4- Change It Up!
If you can afford it, provide yourself more than one place to work from. If you want to work uninterrupted but also want to give yourself a bit of change, there is no better way to do it than putting yourself in a new place. The different qualities of a new space can significantly shift your brain and help you focus better.
This one turned out to be an awesome idea in my case. All I had to do was to carry my laptop and a few documents to a new space. It was the same job, the same bunch of clients and the same set of documents; but a new environment gave me a whole lot of new experience. I now have three new workspaces in different rooms that I can choose from depending on my mood.
Here’s what I suggest for you.
If you work in an organization:
These days, big companies offer different workspaces in addition to your personal space. Employees can work from lobbies, conference rooms, breakout rooms, kitchens and cafeterias.
If you work in one of these companies, make use of all the different spaces provided to you to give yourself a change of environment. Do not use them to hide yourself from your supervisor (unless they’re a complete idiot – lol).
If you work from your own office:
Google’s work environment is one of the best in the world if you are looking for some inspiration to build your own workspace. It’s no wonder why this tech giant is getting more and more creative every day.
The best part about setting up a “fun workplace” is you don’t have to spend a fortune for it. You just need to be a little creative.
If you have a small workspace that is less flexible, try rotating the pictures every now and then. Maybe sitting on the opposite side of the desk could do the trick. Try to change the lamps around for different lighting experience.
Even better, try working at a park or a library or a café occasionally. I’ve enjoyed flexible coworking spaces in my area (think Roam) when I’m meeting up with the team or I need a fresh change of pace.
5- Bring on the Green
There’s something magical about the natural, green world around us. Our physiological and psychological ability gets better by merely attaching ourselves to it. Green plants can effectively increase our productivity.
If you are working in a company:
Most companies shouldn’t have a problem if you want to have a plant on your desk or by your desk side, especially if it can cheer you up.
If that option is not available for you, try including some pictures of the outside world. Even a great screensaver or a scenic desktop background can help you refresh your mind.
Take a short walk outside during lunch or in between crucial assignments. If you have some green landscape outside your office, that’s perfect! The fresh air outside or the bright sunshine alone could be good enough to battle your fatigue and increase your productivity.
If you have your own office or work from home:
If you have your own office setup, there are unlimited options to get closer to nature. You can do all of the above-mentioned tricks plus you can revamp the surroundings of your workspace to give yourself more relaxation. Add as many live plants as you like inside your workspace, they will only make you happier, more productive and less stressed.
There are hundreds of hidden secrets and hacks to help you setup the best workspace and add the best ergonomic office furniture. You’ll come up with more and more clever and creative ideas that resonate with you as well. The tips mentioned above will certainly make your workday more meaningful and will at least give you a good start in the right direction.
If you’ve experienced work-related stress and battled it out successfully, please share your experience with us. Remember, a small piece of advice can make a huge difference to someone else’s life.