If you work in an office, you probably make do with whatever workstation human resources assigned you to use. Even telecommuters often settle for convenience over comfort, spending long hours on hard kitchen chairs.
What if you could boost your productivity, ease pain, improve your overall health and even burn more calories by adjusting your environment? You can. These are among the many benefits of creating an ergonomic work setup.
1. Decrease Burnout
Burnout refers to exhaustion that comes from too much responsibility. You could feel like you always have too much to do and not enough time for completing everything, and physical discomfort only contributes to this perception.
Get mindful, especially in the afternoon, as your energy levels wane. Do you find yourself constantly rubbing the back of your neck? Take a look at your monitor — is it at eye level and neither too close nor too far away to reduce strain? If you discover you constantly lean forward or look down, you could develop tech-neck, an uncomfortable repetitive strain injury.
2. Increase Productivity
The right ergonomic work setup skyrockets your productivity. You can test this principle with a simple experiment. You instantly feel like getting more done when wearing your most comfortable outfit versus your stuffiest. The same principle applies to your desk and chair.
Pay attention to often-overlooked factors that can impede your productivity:
- Noise – If you work from home, try some relaxing background music while you work. Cubicle dwellers might need a set of noise-canceling headphones to drown out the din of their colleague’s high heels against the tile floor.
- Temperature – Those who now telecommute can bid a fond farewell to office thermostat wars. Otherwise, keep a sweater and a fan handy.
- Lighting – Bright overhead fluorescents contain invisible pulsing that can prove maddening to migraine sufferers. Whenever possible, use natural light.
3. Ease Chronic Pain
Much of chronic pain stems from repetitive motion injuries. You might not be able to avoid some of them if you work in a warehouse. However, even there, ergonomics help — like padded mats for standing or stools for the assembly line.
Office chairs aren’t created equal. Yours should allow you to place your feet comfortably on the floor with your knees bent at 90-degree angles. It should offer lumbar support for your spine and a headrest if you like to lean back to think.
4. Burn More Calories
Some people have considerable success with variable height desks. These models enable you to move from sitting to standing. Doing so decreases the pressure on your spine and involves moving more muscles, increasing your overall calorie burn. One study out of the University of Iowa found that you can burn nearly 100 extra calories a day — enough to enjoy a small, guilt-free snack.
Another option is alternating an inflatable exercise ball with your standard chair. Doing so engages your core muscles, increasing your calorie burn and helping you tone and tighten your abs while you crunch numbers.
5. Improve Your Mental Health
Your physical and mental health go hand in hand. If your work setup makes you feel uncomfortable every day, you’ll start to resent what you do – even if you once loved it.
Think of it like embarking on an eight-hour hike every day. You wouldn’t start such an excursion without the right shoes and adequate water. Don’t punch in until you have a comfortable spot to work at your productive best.
Make Your Setup Work For You
Your workspace influences everything, from how productive you are to how stressed you feel each day. It only makes sense to customize it for comfort when considering how much time you spend there.
Reap the above five benefits by creating an ergonomic work setup for yourself. Your boss will thank you, and more importantly, so will your body!