Working from home (WFH) has become the new reality for many people and organizations alike. And although it started as the only logical response to the pandemic, WFH arrangements have grown to be, in many cases, the preferred way of working. It’s convenient. It’s flexible. And it’s efficient. Admittedly, it’s hard to imagine a world in which people are required to work from a central location again. Our homes have become that location. But does convenience always mean optimal? Does the mere fact that we can work somewhere, mean that we should? To be as effective as we were pre-pandemic, we must look at our set-up through an ergonomic lens. Our working environment should be both comfortable and effective. And for good reasons. Let’s examine a few:
The benefits of an ergonomic set up
It Improves Your Health
An ergonomic set up can do wonders for our health, and what probably comes to mind first is our posture. There are various benefits of maintaining good posture, which includes reduced chronic pain, better digestion, and easier breathing. Sometimes improving our physical and mental health is as simple as correcting how we’re seated, and how our bodies interact with our surroundings.
It Strengthens Your Habits
As James Clear mentions in his book, Atomic Habits, our environment is often what influences the habits we form. This is an important thing to consider because when we place ourselves in an environment that accelerates our success, instead of hindering it, it’s more likely we’ll stay on track and perform optimally at our workplace. An ergonomic set up can help improve our environment. When we have a clean desk at arm’s length, we stay more organized. When we don’t have to strain our eyes due to poor lighting in our room, we experience less headaches. And when we have less headaches, we’re less distracted and more focused on the task at hand.
It Increases Your Productivity
Your improved physical health can improve your mental health. Your improved mental health can improve your emotional health. Your improved emotional health –– or your mood –– can improve your focus and motivation. And your improved focus and motivation can improve your productivity. It’s all linked, but sometimes we don’t stop and consider where it all begins. An ergonomic set up can create a domino effect that starts with our bodies feeling better, and ends with us performing more productively.
So what can we improve ergonomically?
We always want to pick a chair that supports our spinal curves. A chair with lumbar support is ideal because not only is it comfortable, it’s healthier. It keeps your back straight and improves your overall posture. An easier alternative to this would be equipping your current chair with a lumbar support pillow. Ideally, we want to purchase one for our back, but also one that can support our neck and shoulders.
Our desk should complement our chair. It, as well as the items on it, should be at arms-length to avoid overreaching. You also want to ensure you pick a desk that can improve and facilitate your organization. Chaos is the playground for stress and anxiety, but structure is the home for peace and clarity. The tidier and more structured the desk, the better we perform.
A benefit of remote work is definitely our flexible hours, but that often means people are finding themselves working in the later parts of the day, when natural lighting isn’t always accessible. Working in an environment with dim or low lighting can cause unnecessary strain on your eyes, and that can lead to fatigue, headaches, and a decrease in our overall well being. Studies have shown that warmer colour temperatures promote tiredness, while cooler temperatures promote productivity, so we want to pick a lighting fixture that’s not only adjustable in brightness, but temperature as well.
Our Surrounding Items
Although our physical health like eyesight, posture and muscle pain are common reasons to improve our ergonomics, our mental health should also be considered. Oil diffusers, scented candles, house plants, stress balls, motivational quotes and photos of friends and family are all examples of items that can be placed around our workstation. Having these items readily available can help boost our mood and improve our overall wellness. Here we consider other mental health tips, tricks and resources to support your WFH life.
Working from home has its benefits, and for many, it’s here to stay. But to remain a high-performing worker, we have to ensure our workplace is designed to help us win. From our chair to our desk, to the items we interact with on a daily basis, it’s in our best interest to analyze them from an ergonomic lens. The more comfortable we feel, and the more efficient we can perform, the healthier our WFH life can be.
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