Weekly roundup: Quick tips for improving your work environment

From the lighting in your office to the style of desk you work at, your environment can help or hinder your productivity. Let’s take a look at some ways you can adjust your workspace to suit your needs and improve your efficiency at work.

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1. Add natural light

Studies have found a strong link between the amount of natural daylight employees are exposed to throughout the day and the quality of their sleep. Lack of natural light in the office can increase sleep disturbances, reduce sleep quality and duration, and even affect our overall quality of life.

Other research has found increasing the amount of natural light employees are exposed to can increase productivity, reduce absenteeism and turnover, and decrease headaches and eyestrain—two of the most common health-related office worker complaints.

If you already work in an office with windows, try rearranging so all employees can see out a window from their desks.

2. Bring nature into the office

Various studies have proven the benefits of natural surroundings on mood, memory, and focus. One study found simply adding plants to a workspace improved productivity by up to 15%.

Spending time in nature has also been linked to improved mental health.

Another study showed accuracy and focus can be improved simply by looking at photos of greenery.

You don’t need to build entire treehouses for your meeting rooms, but adding potted plants and photos of nature throughout the office could boost your team’s happiness and productivity.

3. Switch to a standing desk—sometimes

Though we love to rely on the extreme idea that “sitting is the new smoking,” using a standing desk for hours on end isn’t necessarily the answer, either, as we’ve said before:

Our bodies are complex physical structures capable of and designed for a dynamic range of movement. The sedentary aspect of standing or sitting for too long creates stresses on the body that accumulate over time. Those physical strains can result in fatigue, and – if not managed properly – potential injury.

Though standing desks have been shown to improve focus and engagement, there are also situations when standing desks make tasks more difficult, resulting in frustration. Some fine motor skill tasks, for instance, can be more difficult to complete while standing.

The best solution, then, may be a combination of sitting and standing, with plenty of breaks to move around in-between work periods.

4. Improve your desk ergonomics

Whether you use a standing or sitting desk, getting the ergonomics right can improve your comfort and productivity.

For instance, keeping your screen clean and free of glare can make it easier to read so your eyes don’t have to work too hard. Your computer screen should be about an arm’s length away from you when working, and the center of your screen should be a few inches below your eye level so you’re looking down slightly.

When you’re using a mobile device, remember your ergonomics as well. Most of us hold our mobile devices too close, making our eyes work harder to focus.


What are your best tips for improving your work environment? Let us know in the comments.

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Belle B. Cooper

Belle is an iOS developer, writer, and co-founder of Melbourne-based software company Hello Code. She writes about productivity, lifehacks, and finding ways to do more meaningful work.