Working in an administrative or clerical setting normally means that you sit at a desk for most of your work day, which can easily lead to aches and mental fatigue. Although there are a number of complex ways to improve your workspace, such as adding your own decor, purchasing a more comfortable chair or rearranging your desk, these two improvements take just seconds, creating a more efficient workspace.
One fast, easy way to improve your workspace is to adjust your office chair to create a more ergonomic work environment. Sitting at a desk for hours at a time can cause pain and problems in your lower back, upper back, shoulders and wrists. If not corrected, these issues can lead to long-term problems like carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 26,000 workers took time off of work in 2001 due to CTS, and in 1999 nearly one million took time off due to work-related pain or impairment in the back or upper extremities.
Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet are on the floor, your thighs are parallel to the floor and your elbows can rest comfortably on your desk as you lean back in your chair. Your arms should make a 90-120° bend at the elbow, and your chair's backrest should be supporting your lower back. Move your computer monitor so that it is approximately an arm's length away from your face. To avoid neck strain, adjust your desk setup so that the top of your monitor is 2-3 inches below eye level. Improve your workspace drastically by keeping your keyboard at elbow height to avoid pinching the nerves in your wrists.
The second way to improve your workspace is to adjust the temperature and lighting. Although everyone has a temperature preference, research shows that sub-tropical temperatures create the best work environment. According to a 2004 study by Cornell University, workspace temperatures that fall below 68 degrees Fahrenheit increase worker errors by approximately 44 percent. A later study by Northumbia University confirmed this, adding that temperatures between 71 and 77 degrees F are optimal. If you are not able to directly control the temperature of your workspace, consider bringing up the issue to your manager.
The best lighting adjustment you can make to improve your workspace is to open the blinds of the nearest window to let in some natural light. A 2011 study published by the American Psychological Association concludes that employees who work in natural light have much less drowsiness at the end of the day than those working in artificial light. If you are unable to work in natural light, take frequent breaks to step outdoors and soak up the sun, increasing your alertness.
An ergonomic, mentally stimulating and overall efficient workspace can help you feel more positive and productive. Other small adjustments you can make to improve your workspace include placing pleasant photos around your desk and decorating with stimulating colors like yellow and red.
(Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic / freedigitalphotos.net)