Working at a desk all day can be hard on our bodies. When we don’t take breaks or get enough movement throughout the day, it can lead to tight muscles and sore eyes and make us mentally groggy. Aside from the things we can do when not at work to help us feel healthy and productive — getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising — there are some things we can do while at the office to help us feel healthier and more productive while on the job.
Bring in plants & greenery
What a difference a plant makes! A 2014 study referenced on DailyMail.com found that the introduction of plants in offices increased productivity by 15 percent in just three months. Whether it’s the plants’ ability to remove pollutants and dust from the air, or simply the mood-enhancing aesthetic of the greenery, it’s an excellent perk to any office that requires little investment.
With some simple planning, you can bring in plants that work well indoors so there’s little maintenance involved. And even if you have just a small office desk — or even shared workspace — it doesn’t take much room to place a couple of potted plants in your area to brighten things up.
Enjoy the view & get some fresh air
If you have access to a workspace or office with a view to the outside, utilize it as much as you are able. Merely having a view to the outdoors seems to have a positive impact on workers. Portland-based carpentry company Hammer & Hand cites one study which found that individuals with a view to the outdoors in their office had increased performance and overall health, with less fatigue than those without a view. So keep those blinds open and let some of the sunshine and view from the outdoors into your office.
While we don’t all have access to a view of the outdoors, even stepping outside on a break for some fresh air has its benefits. An article on Fortune.com notes that working in a closed-window building all day without fresh air can decrease productivity by 50 percent, likely because of higher levels of CO2 that can build up in closed spaces. When opening a window isn’t an option, take a few minutes during your break to step outside and get some fresh air, especially if there’s also some green space to soak up in the neighborhood. This can fight the fatigue of working indoors all day and give you a boost of vitality when you head back inside.
Take a break!
It might sound a little radical or silly, but the “nap room” is gaining traction in some workspaces, as an article on Inc.com reported. Only about 6 percent of workplaces have nap rooms onsite today, with just a 1 percent increase since 2008, so it still isn’t a common phenomenon, but the rationale is simple: Since about half of us don’t get enough sleep, and lack of sleep is a known barrier to productiveness, giving employees the option to pop off for a quick 10- to 30-minute catnap might be just the thing to recharge them for the rest of the day.
If your office doesn’t offer an official nap or “recreation” room to unwind, find a way to at least take a break at all — working through your lunch break can ultimately kill your productivity and make you feel much worse at the end of the day. An article on Health.com states that only one in five North American employees actually takes their lunch break at work! An insightful study referenced in their article showed that employees who took small breaks during the day experienced higher job satisfaction and less emotional exhaustion, among other benefits.
Furthermore, the study showed that the earlier in the day people took breaks, the less likely they were to feel stress and physical strain later in the day when returning to work. So don’t push your break all the way until the late afternoon, even though it’s tempting on those really hectic days — it can end up making you feel worse than if you just took the break and let yourself recharge.