Most people spend a significant amount of time at work, but rarely think about how the work environment affects their overall health. Research has shown that happy, healthy office space with plants and open windows is more conducive to productivity. If your work life has become a long string of over-caffeinated mornings, afternoon slumps, and all-day back-aches, it’s time to make some changes. These simple tips can help create a healthy, happy workplace.
1 Brighten things up
In the pursuit of looking sleek, modern & professional, many workplaces can tend towards darker interiors, cold furnishings and a generally ‘smart’ yet not so healthy work environments. Too much heavy/dark colours can tend to dull the mind and even contribute to lack of vitality and even depression. Colours that are useful in the office are: orange – stimulates creativity; yellow – intensifies the intellect and heightens motivation; red – energises; blue – calming, fights physical and mental tension; green – fights irritability and has a healing effect on the body.
Personalising your own office space is a great way to make your working day seem more fun over and above general office space. Use colours that you are drawn to as these are the colours that will benefit your health. Sitting in a drab grey cubicle is uninspiring and dull. Add fun pictures, accessories and décor to keep your imagination firing. Here are a few ideas to add colour & fun to your workspace:
- Funky Clocks
- Desk Lamps
- Notice Boards
- Fresh Flowers on your desk
- Bright Bold Upholstery
- Colourful Desk Accessories
- Office Fish Tank
2 Improve air quality with plants
Not only do plants improve the air quality at your desk, but studies show they make workers happier, too. Plants filter the air and can fight against the common high-tech ill, sick building disease.
Top 5 best air cleansing plants:
3 Invest in ergonomic furniture
Having a properly supported and appropriate posture while you work will significantly improve your comfort, happiness and productivity. The height of your desk and chair should be designed keeping ergonomic principles in mind.
Make sure that your chair is comfortable and has adjustable height and arms. When you are sitting straight with feet flat on the floor, your arms should be at a 90-degree angle when typing on the computer. If you have to strain or stretch to reach your computer, then you are putting stress on the back and shoulder area. Chairs can undoubtedly be expensive, but in the long run, it will cost much less than spending time at the chiropractor.
4 Seek natural light
Natural light protects vision and keeps employees productive; it keeps the body’s regulatory processes running smoothly. If you don’t have windows, consider a skylight or holding regular brainstorms on a walk outside to get some crucial Vitamin D. Studies to suggest that natural light increases human productivity and reduces fatigue and stress. By just replacing your old fluorescent tubes with full-spectrum tubes, you can instantly enhance your environment and your well-being. Or why not invest in an LED lamp to keep your work area well-lit and go easy on the planet too.
5 Relax using aromatherapy
If you’re in an afternoon slump, forget the coffee. Getting stressed out by your endless to-do list? Do NOT take a cigarette break. Try keeping an aromatherapy blend on hand to get you through the day’s trouble zones; dab a bit of your preferred oil on your palm, rub hands together, cup them around your nose, and inhale. Aromatherapy is the practice of using volatile plant oils, including essential oils, for psychological and physical well-being. Aromatherapy can help alleviate or temporarily eliminate stress or other psychological factors. Scenting your office with Lavender essential oil is said to reduce computer errors by at least 25%. There are also many “recipes” on the Internet to use during the cold and flu season when “office-air” can be extremely contagious.
6 Listen to some music
Just about all offices have some music playing in the background. Music can affect emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills. Music can provide mental stimulation while performing monotonous tasks, which can help to reduce stress levels in the office. It’s a good idea for colleagues to vote on what music plays on certain days of the week. This collaboration allows colleagues to have some input and to hear their music preference and gives you something to look forward to each week.
7 Take regular breaks & exercise
Everyone’s work style is different. With that said, it is essential that we all take frequent breaks to help decompress and handle the endless stream of tasks that roll in during the working day.
Long periods of inactivity, impact negatively on your health and your assertiveness. Research has shown that sitting in front of a computer all day can have adverse effects on your short and long-term health. Even the most focused person needs a break at least twice a day. Change of scenery also helps with emotions. One of the best ways to eliminate stress and recharge the body is to go outside for a ten-minute walk. Focus on your surroundings and take deep breaths. This routine will give you a renewal of energy and will also aid in Vitamin D production. Walk by yourself and focus on clearing your mind. Walking will even get the blood and the lymphatic system flowing. Stepping away from a difficult problem or project for a moment can bring some much-needed clarity.
So, take regular breaks, every 50 minutes or so, and get active – go for a quick 10-minute walk, do some stretching exercises or do push-ups and sit-ups.
8 Eat healthily & frequently
Working eight or more hours a day can make it challenging to eat healthfully unless you plan. Research shows that eating every four hours helps to keep your metabolism charged and your energy level high.
It is vital that you take a decent lunch break and eat your main meal at lunchtime, not dinner time. Why? because this is how humans are designed to function for peak health & performance. From the famous ‘Natural health system known as Maharishi Ayurveda, digestion (which is responsible for converting food into energy & healthy tissues) is at its peak in the middle of the day – when we are active & therefore need energy the most. Not only does getting out of the office at lunchtime provide a ‘mental refresher’, but eating a settled lunch (as opposed to sitting at one’s desk or eating ‘on the run’), is critical for workers to enjoy maximum energy and productivity throughout the day. It also helps prevent ‘binge eating’ later that day.
When you feel peckish before you dig in your drawer for spare change and head to the vending machine, plan and stash low-calorie, nutritious meals in a cabinet, drawer, or your briefcase. Each of these snacks should be less than 200 calories and are sure to satisfy when the 3 p.m. cravings hit. Keep an assortment of nuts at your desk for a protein-rich, heart-healthy snack to keep you stable until you can get a real meal. Alternatively, get fruity! Bring in a week’s stock of seasonal fruit (in addition to the requisite biscuit tin of course!). The best time for fruit is around 4 pm each day. This time is when “sweet cravings” are at their peak or if you have skipped lunch, get the ‘binge munchies’. An orange and a banana at this time, is a great healthy ‘energy boosting, pick me up.
After sunset, our digestive fire becomes almost non-existent as our body’s wind down in preparation for their ‘resting/rejuvenating’ phase of sleep.
At Crate Hire UK we provide healthy snacks—like tea, coffee, nuts, and dried fruit—because they’re delicious and incredibly easy to keep in the cupboards.
9 Keep yourself hydrated
One of the primary causes of low energy, poor concentration and impaired decision-making is poor-hydration. The combination of air-conditioned offices, coffee drinking and being too busy/lazy to go to the staff kitchen and get a drink, means that you are working at significantly reduced production levels, due to poor drinking habits. Dehydration decreases your attention and concentration by 13% and short-term memory by 7%. More water each day will improve your focus.
Drinking a healthy amount of water is vital to your health. You can never imagine just by drinking a healthy amount of water, you gain tremendous health benefits, and sometimes you can even throw away your migraine medicine or painkiller. We have to drink a lot to replace the fluid we lose through breathing, sweating and urinating. On average, this amounts to 2.5 litres each day, but we only need to drink 1.2 litres because we get 1 litre of water from food and the body recovers 0.3 litres from chemical reactions in our cells.
So what can you drink? All liquids you drink will have water in them, so all contribute to how hydrated you are, but the best things to drink are healthy fruit juices, water and milk. Tea and coffee are excellent as part of a balanced diet, but they shouldn’t be your only source of hydration. Likewise, you should avoid drinking too many sugary drinks. Fruit and veg are a great source of water; if you increase your daily intake of these, then you’ll also increase your water intake.
10 Have a quiet room
Embrace the Nap! Many companies are catching on to the benefits of napping, at Crate Hire UK, we’d rather see our employees refreshed then propping their eyelids open with paperclips.
Business these days is all about activity, and we are all constantly on the go. The single greatest antidote to all the hustle & bustle is ‘quiet time to oneself’. Just like airports and many progressive companies these days, why not set aside a special room/area where employees can go for some ‘Quiet Time’.
This exclusive area is where employees can have some quiet space to gather their thoughts. Employees spend on average, 50-70% of their non-sleeping time at work. Providing a space where they can have some downtime/personal rejuvenation time will be one of the critical areas of the next decade.
Where you can, have
- The room as far away from the noise as possible
- A couple of comfortable chairs for relaxing/napping
- A couch/small bed people can lie down on if feeling unwell
- A small space with 1-2 blankets for stretching, yoga etc
- Soft lighting & possibly a fish tank or small water feature. Water is very calming & balancing to corporate environments – that’s why everyone wants to live near the water – fish tanks have been shown to lower blood pressure.
There is a need to change the 24/7 work culture. Employees who look after their health by regularly taking mini breaks/quiet time, don’t work through lunch and don’t work late every night are no longer viewed as lazy or unreliable employees. Quite the opposite, employers understand that workers who look after themselves to stay fresh, bright, alert, confident, leads to a more productive and balanced workplace.