The following is a guest post by Rebecca Fox. Learn more about Rebecca from her author bio following her post.
The environment that we work in can affect our mood and our productivity. If you feel like you aren't getting as much done as you should be during the working day, don't jump to blaming yourself. Take a look at your working environment. A few tweaks to your office could make you more comfortable and more productive.
An office that is too hot or too cold will cause a lot of problems. If you feel the cold in the office, or you find yourself feeling tired a lot of the time, keep a record of the ambient temperature. For most people, the optimal working temperature is 77 degrees F. A difference of just a couple of degrees from that optimal can reduce your productivity by 5%.
Overly humid air leaves you feeling tired and drained. Dry air can be uncomfortable too. Depending on the humidity levels in your office, you may want to install a dehumidifier, or turn down the heat for a while. The optimal humidity level is 40%.
You spend eight hours a day in your office chair, so you owe it to your body to choose a chair that is the right size, and comfortable for you. A good chair supports your back and allows you to maintain correct posture while working at your computer.
Natural light is the best kind of light, but if you can't use that during your working day, try to choose lighting that is easy on the eye. If you suffer from migraines then you may need to try a few different kinds of artificial light until you find one that doesn't make your condition worse. Use a screen cover to reduce glare and make sure that you always have enough light to be able to clearly see what you are doing.
Is your mouse in a comfortable place? Can you easily reach your keyboard? Is your monitor positioned far enough away that you aren't going to end up with eye strain from reading your emails? Do you have to bend awkwardly to get things out of drawers, or is everything you use regularly within arm's reach? Some small changes to your desk design can make life a lot easier during your working day.
It can be difficult to concentrate if there is a lot of background noise. Try to find a way to minimise distractions in your office. In open plan office environments, this may mean rearranging the office so that foot traffic doesn't pass by the desks of people who are doing jobs that require a lot of concentration, and noisy equipment such as your office printer or fax machine is located as far away from the main desk area as possible.
If you are lucky enough to work in an office with a door, consider closing it when you don't want visitors, or asking people to check your calendar before dropping by. It's much easier to get into a smooth work flow when you are comfortable and don't have to worry about distractions.
Most office employees will spend over 40 hours a week in their workplace, so ensuring the décor is fresh, pleasant and regularly updated can have a huge impact on mood. The color palette should include a bolder, brighter color such as blue or green as these are known to boost productivity. It is however important not to use one strong color throughout the entire office as it can darken the room and even cause headaches. Matte paint is also a top choice to avoid the glare that can be caused by paints that leave a shinier coating.
Adding personal items like photographs and mugs to your desk area can bring a sense of comfort and inspiration and allow you to feel like your working area is your own space. On a larger scale it’s a great idea to add branded artwork and examples of successful projects to the office walls.
The start of a New Year is a great time to implement some of these changes and freshen up your working environment for a positive start to the coming months. Why not suggest some of these changes to the person in charge of your office area or even make some yourself. Spending a small amount of money to personalize and improve your working environment is completely worth it, especially as it means you can be more productive, comfortable and most importantly happier at work.
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