Create a healthy, thriving working environment at home!
Ahh, 8 am…the time to change from your night PJs into your day PJs. Working from home certainly has its perks - lunch is at 9 am, Zoom meetings only last 40 minutes before they’re automatically ended, and you suddenly get along with your co-workers much better.
When cultivated correctly, your home office can be a sanctuary of quiet (or you can blast loud music; no judgement) and a healthy habitat that caters to both your needs and those of our planet.
Spruce up your office space with these top tips for living and working well at home…
EMBRACE YOUR WORK SPACE
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
It’s easy to forget about all the little bits and pieces we waste when we’re working away in the comfort of our exclusive office space. That sticky note propelled at the bin, the paper towels to clean up the coffee spills, the dozen or so pens used once then left to dry out…
Here are five easy changes you can make:
- Ditch the sticky notes and put up a whiteboard
- Set up recycle bins nearby
- Compost organic waste
- Use one pen at a time
Cut the Paper
Paper is one of the chief eco-antagonists of the workplace, to such an extent that it has to have its very own segment. In so far as possible, try to conserve energy, paper and damage to the environment by going paperless. Ditch the printer with its unrecycled ink cartridges and switch to the digital domain.
If you’re not quite ready to let go of your printer, consider using it in the most eco-friendly way possible:
- Recycle your ink cartridges (or buy remanufactured ones…they’re also cheaper!)
- Buy refillable ink cartridges
- Print double-sided
- Reset the margins on the documents you’re printing
- Use the ‘fast’ or ‘draft’ settings when you print…this uses far less ink!
- Avoid colour printing, as this uses much more ink
Work with Green People
No, I’m not talking about aliens… I’m merely suggesting that you might want to partner up with more like-minded co-workers! Brands, companies and individuals who share your desire to create workspaces that are conscious of the effect they are having on the environment. Use the opportunity to support and learn from each other.
These little green machines have the power to boost oxygen levels in your space and reduce carbon dioxide and formaldehyde. While your little office space may not have an abundance of natural light, many species flourish in environments low on light.
Here are some pretty additions to cheer up your cubicle:
- Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
- Purple Shamrock (Oxalis triangularis)
- Umbrella Plant (Schefflera spp.)
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)
- Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
Don’t forget to check if your fun new flora is friendly to your pets!
Secondhand is Sustainable
Much like its ugly step-sister ‘fast fashion’, ‘fast furniture’ is causing untold damage to our natural world. We consume and discard with no regard for our ever-increasing carbon footprint. Not only are our office trappings largely made of hazardous materials, but they are also being produced overseas and shipped in bulk to our shores. You can help reduce this catastrophe by exploring thrift stores to find the hidden treasure that could be your next favourite desk!
This is an area where you can make a big difference! While it may be true that we need each and every one of the electronics that we have powered up around us, that doesn’t mean we can’t explore the energy-saving features they have.
- Make sure your devices are ENERGY STAR compliant
- Switch from an overhead light to a desk lamp with a low-wattage LED battery
- Ditch your desktop and use laptops…they use far less energy
- Remove unnecessary energy-drainers, like the office mini-fridge (don’t hate me, I’m just trying to help!)
- Install a smart thermostat to manage heating and cooling
Finally, at the end of a long day, switch off the lights and all your electronic equipment.
YOUR HEALTHY HABITAT
Our physical environment has a significant effect on our health. Whether it’s our physical or emotional states, we need to set ourselves up for success by creating a space that inspires and nurtures us.
The Right Light
As always, the best light is natural light. Situate your laptop parallel to a window, and use a desk light to soften the glare of your screen. The colour of the lighting can also have profound effects on your productivity. Use a cooler colour like blue or pure white to promote focus, or a warmer hue such as yellow or red for comfort. Alternatively, simulate natural light by selecting a green glow to light your way.
Perfect Your Posture
The alarming truth is that most people sit for an average of almost eight hours a day, between working and relaxing! Sitting for long periods essentially slows the process of your muscles, breaking down fats and sugars and potentially resulting in cardiovascular problems and obesity.
That dramatic statement aside, you may be experiencing pain and discomfort caused by muscular and skeletal imbalances on account of prolonged sitting at your desk. You could be locked into this unnatural position because of an incorrect sitting posture, a poor environment, decreased flexibility, etc.
Here are a couple of tips for correcting your posture:
- Adjust your chair
- Place your screen at eye level
- Rest your feet on the floor
- Keep your keyboard and mouse in front of you
- Take regular breaks
- Consider a standing desk
Make sure that you have all the structural support you need to flourish in your workspace. If you’re struggling, consider an ergonomic keyboard or chair. Mouse wrist supports can also significantly reduce painful aching wrists for those who clatter around their desk all day. Spend your money (at your local second-hand shop) on the spaces where you spend most of your time.
Conserve Your Energy
Just as your electronics need to shut down at the end of your work day, so do you! Your personal wellbeing is a vital factor to your company’s health. A healthy and fulfilled employee is beneficial to company culture and overall productivity. So don’t feel bad to clock off and kick back when the clock strikes 5 pm.
When the weekend arrives, consider getting out and doing the things that fill your happy bucket. Whether communing with nature or volunteering for a worthy cause, make sure you are doing that which gives you rest and joy.
By Jenna Nel