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Posts Tagged ‘office environment’

active-19413_640Sitting at a desk all day is known to be a contributor to poor health. From bad ergonomics, or bad posture, being sedentary, to snacking on unhealthy foods, there are a number of factors that impact upon your health and wellbeing.

Some of the results of this are headaches, and other body aches and pains, poor fitness and lack of strength, and overweight which can lead to obesity and a range of other associated health issues. It can also make you cranky, and not feel like doing much.

So what three things can you do to stay healthy at work?

  1. Move it!

Getting up from your desk is a must but whilst it gives you 30 seconds of possible stretch time, it really doesn’t do much. Use the opportunity to go for a quick walk; around the office, around the block, or up and down a flight of stairs.

Make your lunch break the time you get in a good 20 minutes walk, more if you can. Take in some runners, put them on, and go.

Use stairs if the opportunity is there for you. Whether this means avoiding the lift entirely, or getting off a floor or three before or after, is up to you. Walk up escalators, and if you catch public transport in, walk to the train station or bus stop that is further away.

You can do this morning and afternoon.

The point is, take every opportunity you can to move it!

  1. Watch the snacks

Snacks can be a real killer, in more ways than one. Whilst we often remember to have lunch, we forget that our body’s need to be refuelled a little more often.

Take a handful of nuts, and a small container filled with berries, grapes and other small fruits. These are easy to eat whilst you sit at your desk, are full of nutrients, and low in those things that make you feel tired and hungry.

If you’re smart about it, you’ll have your snack box located in a place you have to walk to to get to. This serves two purposes; you’ll only get up to snack if you’re really hungry, and if you are, you have to actually get up and move!

  1. Drink up

Or better still, remain hydrated. Where we fall down in being healthy at work is that we don’t drink enough water.

As a result, we become tired, so we resort to caffeine and/or high sugar snacks to wake us up. Caffeine, and foods high in sugar and salt leave us feeling more tired and the cycle continues.

Have a water bottle on your desk, and make sure you drink it before lunch. Refill it before your lunchtime walk, and make sure you rehydrate during and immediately after. You should also manage a third bottle between lunch and the end of the day.

A bottle that holds 500ml will be fine, and it’s a nice way to ease you into drinking water and getting into a healthy habit.

Most importantly, it’s necessary to ease yourself into it. Start with a walk once each week, and slowly build it up to 3 or four times per week. Focus and be conscious of how much you’re sitting, and when you have opportunities to walk.  All of these healthy habits will require you to think about them before they’ll become habits for you.

Once they do, you’ll become aware of the benefits. So will your colleagues.

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Even the world’s best collaborators sometimes need some time to themselves. Alone time, whether it is at home or at work, is almost impossible to come by, unless you have your own space. These days office environments are often geared towards lots of communication between colleagues, with individual cubicles being dismantled in favour of open plan offices where everyone can be a part of the team. This is great in theory, and most people prefer the democratising and social benefits of the shared space. But what are you losing if you give up your personal space?

Having your own space makes a big difference to the way you think and feel. While nothing new is created in a vacuum, people often need time and space to themselves to come up with original ideas, or solutions to problems. Having personal space allows for deeper relaxation and greater concentration, both extremely helpful mental states for many types of work. Many tasks can be completed with greater accuracy if they are attempted without interruption or distraction.

One of the great benefits of a personal work space is the ability to decorate it to your liking. Purely individual touches, like photographs of family members, are great motivators to some workers. Others aim to improve the feng shui of the workplace by adding plants, crystals or mirrors in strategic places. These personal items can individualise sections of shared spaces, giving individuals further focus, and ultimately be a positive influence on workplace practices.

People attempting to work from home can find the home office (which is often used for a combination of activities) a tricky place to get work done. If having your own space designated solely to work is impossible, see if you can designate some particular times for that space to be for work only.

Taking the time and space to work alone when needed will mean you can come to team meetings better prepared and ready to share your personal best when collaboration is in order.

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Do you have a system at work that resembles more of an organised chaos, with a desk hidden beneath layers of print outs, proofs, and post-it notes? 

If you are craving a minimalistic desk likened to that of your accountant’s and looking for a more effective way of managing your time, the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology might be your answer.

Created by productivity consultant David Allen, GTD surrounds improving productivity and reducing stress by effectively managing tasks and the efforts required to execute them.  This is done by documenting everything that needs doing – now and in the future, professionally and personally – rather than relying on your internal memory. 

Using a series of workflow management stages, input material which might be used to typically jog the memory (like notes and calendar items) is collated and then processed based on the type of action that each task requires.  GTD proposes that if a task is going to take less than two minutes, do it.  If you are not the right person to be doing that task, delegate it.  Or if it needs to be done at a later date, then defer it.  A date-based filing system is then used for storage and future retrieval of information, replacing the need for you to remember it yourself. 

GTD might be for you should you want to improve your productivity and help free up your mind from information that you don’t always need.  Interested?  Read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (Penguin Books) or visit the dedicated David Allen website for more information.  Organised chaos is, after all, still chaos.

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Setting up your work area is not just about placing your furniture in an aesthetically pleasing way.  It is important that your place of work is conducive to productivity, creativity, and fosters camaraderie among employees.  So, before heading out to buy your office fittings you need to keep a few things in mind on how best to set up your work area. 

Each of these tips will apply to you whether your business is home based or has a number of employees.

1.  Determine how much you want to spend for your office space.  To make it easier, plan a budget for each workstation, from the cubicles and computers to the phone lines and electric cables.   It’s by far the safest way to keep your spending under control.   I know how tempting it can be when you see the exciting advances in technology.

2.  Prepare your layout.  It’s not good to cram your office with workstations, office machinery and filing cabinets.  Even if your space is small, a well-planned layout is going to make any space look bigger than it really is.   Remember, you have to sit in there with all that stuff!

3.  Go ergonomic.  Aside from making yourself and your employees comfortable you can lessen stress injuries and fatigue brought about by badly designed furniture.  Use adjustable work desks and chairs, as well as allowing enough legroom under the desks.  It is worth buying the best you can because it is likely to save you money in the long run when you think about potential medical expenses caused by injury.

4.  Consider your lighting and electrical needs.  Building a productive workspace also means taking care of lighting needs.  It is important that you provide adequate lighting to avoid eyestrain and headaches, especially if the lights create a glare from the computer monitors.  Be certain that you have enough electrical sockets for your office machinery so that things will run smoothly.  This is one thing that is often overlooked when rearranging the work place.

Keep your area clear and only bring the necessities into it.  It will not only look good but it will be more efficient and safer for you to work in.

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Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese art of aesthetics which is deeply tied in with their beliefs about how to improve your life, health and luck. Whether or not you believe that the positioning of objects can affect the life force  surrounding you, feng shui can certainly improve the way your office looks. That, in turn, affects the way you feel about being there.

These tips will help you to maximise your space and, funnily enough, will subtly change the way you approach work.

1. Face the door.
If you can, make sure that your desk faces the door. Turning your back on it is effectively shunning good fortune.  I know that I feel more secure if I can see who is coming in my door, too. If you aren’t able to move your desk try adding a mirror to the wall in front of you so you can see the door reflected in it. That also allows the good fortune to bounce onto you.

2. Clear up the mess
Having piles of files around you or overflowing rubbish pins invites negative energy to your office and also drains what evergy you have. Keep the area clean and clear of clutter. It makes a more pleasant environment to work in, too.

3. Decorate with plants.
Plants are symbolic of nature and attract positive energy. If you have room, sit a pot on your desk. If there is no room you can also use a nature poster for similar effect. A word of warning, though. Keep your plants alive. Don’t let dead ones sit around the office because they repel the positive energies and actively attract the negative. If nothing else, plants are fresh and serene to look at and can help to freshen the air around you.

4. Use natural light.
Wherever possible let natural light flow into your room and near your workspace. Keep the windows clear of coverings and positive life force will surround you. There is nothing better than escaping those horrible indoor lights that are hard on your eyes and not very atmospheric.

5. Use Crystals.
Not every room is perfect and there will be something that you just can’t do because of the shape, size or layout of the room. If you hang a crystal in the window or place a crystal object in the room it will bounce the positive energies around the room for you, overcoming many of the things that are out of your control.

Now, even if you don’t believe in Feng Shui, imagine how good you will feel coming to work in a clean, light filled room with sun shining in the window and pretty reflections bouncing off the walls?  You know that you would be far more productive in such a nice environment, don’t you?

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