Being planted at your desk is physically taxing in its own way, often manifesting first as a crick in your neck, stiffness in your shoulders, or the sluggish feeling overtaking you in the afternoon as a result of poor circulation. These “small” issues tend to be ignored, but if experienced day-in and day-out they’ll really hamper your mood and efficiency.
Part of an excellent work environment is having the means of being comfortable in your space. If your line of work requires long hours at your desk, here’s what you can do or bring to your office to make you more comfortable throughout your workday:
1. Give your body some variety
What really comes to mind when we think of sitting at a desk all day is physical monotony. Our minds may be stimulated, but our bodies are itching for variety and movement. Here are some ways you can give your body some diversity:
- Kick off your heels or oxfords and roll a tennis ball under your foot beneath your desk for a nice massage.
- Bring a yoga mat (they don’t take up much space when rolled up), and do some postures during your breaks. Better yet, bring an acupressure mat and lay on that or put it on the back of your chair to stimulate acupressure points.
- Switch to working from your laptop over to a sofa or comfortable chair where you can stretch out using an ottoman. This might not be the position you choose for your “power hours” but it’ll help you make it through long days.
- To help increase circulation and avoid the stiffness that comes from sitting for too long, switch to standing if you can. Our shared office space in Vancouver features adjustable sit/stand desks in every office, because the best option is simply to have options, depending on your preferences.
2. Stay hydrated
It’s easy to forget to drink water when your work day is relatively sedentary, but even mild dehydration contributes to many common symptoms. Bringing a water bottle or your favourite teas is a great way of drinking more fluids. Just look at all the ways dehydration manifests in the body:
Stiff joints or cramped muscles: Dehydrated muscles are stiff muscles. Drink more water to help keep them limber.
Dry eyes: This contributes to eye strain and makes staring at your computer screen for longer periods of time even more uncomfortable
Headaches: If you experience frequent headaches, a cup of coffee is only going to give temporary relief. You could be getting them due to dehydration or a vitamin deficiency.
Thirst: Though a no-brainer, it’s important to point out that by the time your body actually gives you a “thirst” signal, you’re already in a deficit.
You can read the other weird things that dehydration does to the body before refilling your water bottle. And, don’t feel bad about more frequent trips to the bathroom – it gives you another reason to get up and stretch your legs.
4. Bring your dog to work with you
More workplaces are becoming pet-friendly, and the positive contributions pets bring in making a pretty good case in their favour. A study by Workplace Health Management found that those who brought pets to work had decreased hormonal stress levels compared to those who did not bring pets to work. In fact, the petless employees showed steadily increasing levels of stress throughout the workday.
Since acquiring the office space at BrightLane, members are been able to bring their dogs to work that location if they choose. Pets are a common point of interest for many, and having them around can open up communication with others and create a less stressful atmosphere.
5. Equip your space with some personal items
In many situations, comfort is about preparedness. You know what kind of items you need to feel well, but here are some common articles that always prove useful:
- Lotion for dry hands
- Umbrella for those days you didn’t check your weather app
- An extra pair of shoes (always handy when you need to run to catch the train)
- A lint roller (take note, pet owners)
- Headphones for embarrassing YouTube videos you’d rather people know you weren’t watching, or just zoning out
- A light sweater or fleece. Sometimes an extra layer is actually more comfortable than raising the indoor temperature
6. Stretch or give yourself a massage
At some point, every desk jockey has reached around to rub their neck or shoulders for quick relief of muscle tension. Self-massage is actually a good idea, and there’s a lot you can do right from your desk to help knead out stiff muscles and relieve tension.
Another option is buying something to do the massaging for you. Massaging chair pads have come along way and the good ones are quite effective at soothing muscles or applying heat therapy. As long as they don’t make you fall asleep in your chair, they could make a big difference in easing relaxing your muscles.
7. Reduce prolonged computer time whenever possible
Try to break your work into smaller segments and switch between tasks that use different motions. Also, take some of your brainstorming or whatever other tasks you can to notebook when possible. Just don’t switch between monitor to paper too quickly, as having to frequently glance back and forth will cause eye strain. If you need to copy something from paper to computer, prop the paper next to your monitor.
In a previous article, we mentioned the 52-17 rule being better for productivity, but as you can see, taking frequent breaks has its other benefits as well. It gives your eyes a break, and gives you time to do all the other previously mentioned tips – moving, stretching, walking, etc.
Part of an excellent workspace experience includes comfort and the freedom to work in the way that most befits you. At iQ, we encourage our members to arrange their workstations, and we’re always looking for new ways of increasing comfort in our offices, from temperature control, to natural lighting and ergonomic furniture.