The Benefits of Good Posture
Ever since childhood, we have been told to stand and sit up straight. It is a common phrase shared amongst caring parents who want their children to experience the benefits of good posture. Developing proper posture at an early age can help you live the rest of your life to its fullest capacity.
Most of us do not follow the advice of our parents, especially when it comes to our posture. By the time we are teenagers, we make a habit of slouching or sitting slumped over in furniture. Then, by the time we get a job later in life, these bad habits are the only ones we know. Before we know it, we spend even less effort on making sure we are sitting or standing straight. No matter if we are at home or at work, our posture suffers for most of our lives.
So it is no surprise that so many of us experience consistent aches and pains around that time in our lives. People remark on how stiff their backs, legs, and knees are. They move slower. They can’t stretch or twist as well. After years and years of slumping, slouching, and ignoring posture, people reap the consequences of it.
But the benefits of having and keeping good posture go beyond not feeling as stiff as you used to. In fact, there are several bonuses that can come from just a bit more effort to keep our posture straight and healthy. The best part about it is that it’s never too late to start. Even if you ignored your parents and teachers and have maintained bad posture for most of your life, you can change that now and finally feel better.
Improving your posture is something that can start at any age, in any location. We can practice proper posture at our desks, at work, or while on the couch at home, and we can correct our posture regardless of age. There is nothing stopping you from experiencing the following benefits of good posture and healthy body alignment.
Did you know that having poor posture can make you sluggish, tired, and void of energy? It’s true! Recent studies have proven that bad posture can affect your body and your overall energy levels in some surprising ways.
When you are not practicing good posture, the stress and strain from standing or sitting add extra weight, tension, and pain to your bones and joints. Of course, it makes you feel physically unwell but it also saps away your energy because your body is working extra hard thanks to all the strain throughout your body’s muscles. Think of it this way: your body is working extra hard because it is having to combat the stress you are causing by simply not having good posture.
Therefore, if you decide to fix your posture you will soon find that your energy levels will rise drastically. You won’t feel as tired, you won’t feel nearly as rundown and depleted at the end of the day. If you make an effort to seriously consider your posture every day and take steps to correct it, you will find your work output more successful, your energy higher, and your body feeling better in every way.
A Better Mood
If you have found yourself having a sour mood again and again, you might want to adjust your posture as soon as possible. Why? Because many studies have shown that a better posture leads to a better mood. It might sound crazy to believe that standing or sitting at your desk during the work day could make you feel better and be happier, but it is true.
In one 2014 study, 74 people were assigned to sit slumped or upright and then asked to complete a reading task and give a speech to others. People who sat upright stated they had higher self-esteem, a higher level of alertness, a better mood, and less fear when giving their speech. Those are some impressive results!
So if you find yourself feeling grumpy day after day, change the way you sit or stand. Focus on having a straight back, with both feet on the ground. Watch as your mood improves in no time at all. Good posture doesn’t just help your body and your health, it helps your mind and your attitude too. It’s a win-win for your body in every sense.
Here’s something you will definitely want to keep an eye on. Your breath. Of all the benefits of good posture, this might be the biggest one.
When your body is aligned correctly and you are employing good posture, you will find it is easier to breathe. It makes perfect sense when you think of your anatomy. When you are sitting or standing slouched with bad posture, your lung capacity is compromised. If you have bad posture, there will be more strain on your lungs. That is ultimately a very bad thing.
If you take steps to improve your posture, your inhales and exhales will deepen in no time. The act of sitting or standing straight will expand your lungs and allow more air to enter them. You can take deeper breaths and train your body to breathe more steadily and solidly each and every time.
Breathing correctly comes with a whole slew of health benefits. If you need any one reason to adjust your posture when at work or at home, this should be it.
Have you ever had a tension headache? If you have, you definitely know how annoying they are. A tension headache starts in your upper back or lower neck and radiates outwards and into your head. A tension headache is known for its consistent and throbbing pain that seems to continue no matter what you do. Why won’t it stop as a regular headache does? Mostly because a tension headache is probably caused by bad posture. When you get rid of your bad posture, you get rid of these headaches too.
If you sit up or stand up straight, you will have a straight back and a spine that’s properly aligned. Your head will raise, your chin will tuck in a tad, your lower back will curve naturally and everything will click into place. This will do away with the tension in your lower and upper back and that will lessen the chances of you having tense aches that will spread to your head.
Headaches can be debilitating and can truly stop you from having a productive day, week, month, or year. Common headaches can be a roadblock that makes just about everything else seemingly impossible until it is solved. Thankfully, you don’t need to visit a doctor or take any sort of medication to get rid of some of the worst headaches: tension headaches. Instead, all you need to do is attend to your posture and these awful headaches will diminish in no time.
No More Jaw Pain
One of the many issues that can be caused by poor posture is TMJ, also known as temporomandibular joint syndrome. The temporomandibular joints are the two joints that connect your jawbones to the temporal bones of your skull. Essentially, these joints work like the hinge of a door and help you open and close your mouth with ease.
If you have bad posture, you will encounter misalignment all over your body. This includes your neck, shoulders, and especially in the joints. This will lead to your joints popping, cramping, locking, or having spasms. It is an awfully painful and uncomfortable situation to be in and can be caused by bad posture.
If you assist and fix your bad posture, you will find that the joints of your jaw – and all over your body – will be greatly helped. The pains that come with tension in your mouth and neck and jaw will disappear. TMJ can be a thing of the past and your mouth can be functioning at full capacity again, all you need to do is fix your poor posture.
Ease your Arthritis
Arthritis can be one of the most painful and excruciatingly annoying conditions someone can have. It causes aches and pains that are unlike anything else in the world and can prevent someone from walking correctly, running well, staying healthy, or living a fruitful and normal life.
Having arthritis is bad enough but it can be made even worse by bad posture. If you already suffer from arthritis, you need to go out of your way to make sure your posture is in the best possible condition. Multiple studies and countless doctors have said that misalignment in the bones and joints is caused by bad posture and can make arthritis even worse than it naturally is.
Arthritis can have horrible effects on your body but poor posture can make those effects even stronger. If you correct your posture, you will find that your arthritis – while not cured – will at least be more manageable.
How to Experience the Benefits of Good Posture
So you know you want to adjust and fix your bad posture, but what are the steps you need to take? How do you rectify a problem like this if it is something you have been doing for years now? Thankfully, the steps are quite easy to follow and can create results in no time at all. If you are ready for good posture at home and at work, this is what you need to do:
Keep Your Feet Solid on the Ground
This one is a no-brainer and is actually one of the best things you can do to experience the benefits of good posture. Whenever possible, make sure to have both feet planted firmly on the ground. If you are at work, sit in a chair that isn’t too high off the ground. Better yet, if you are able you should invest in a standing desk for your workspace. This will keep your feet solidly on the ground and will also help you stand up straight with a healthy spine. Whether you are sitting or standing, make sure that your feet are about a foot-length apart with both of them pointing forward. You will notice a change in your posture almost immediately.
Tense Your Glutes
Squeezing and tensing your glutes is another great and easy way to improve your posture in no time at all. Best of all, it is so incredibly easy to do. Tensing your glutes is something you have done countless times before and you do it every day again and again when you are walking. If you spend time focusing on tensing your glutes and keeping them tense then your lower back posture will almost instantly improve. The glutes are a pivotal part of good posture and you should spend time tending to them.
Tense Your Abdominals
You would be surprised by how good it feels to randomly and sporadically tense your abdominals throughout the day. Doing this will help your posture and provide you with a better look and feel throughout your body. It is important that you make tensing your abs a habit, something you do again and again throughout the day. It might be smart to even set a reminder on your phone so you can take short breaks from work to tense your muscles. Soon it will become something that is second-nature to you, something you do often and soon you will be doing it without any reminding at all.
Pull Your Shoulders Back and Down
Like so many recommendations on this list, pulling your shoulders back and down is something you need to remind yourself to do – at first. If you make it into a habit, you will find that your body begins to naturally do this without you needing to take the initiative and focus on it. Setting your shoulders back goes a long way to straightening your back and keeping it properly aligned.
Keep Your Head Directly Over the Rest of Your Body
Here is another trick that will help your posture almost immediately. The moment that you adjust your head placement and try to keep it strictly above the rest of your body, you will feel the rest of your back and body align instantly and you will know that you have made the right move. Now the trick is to keep your head directly above the rest of your body and it will ensure that your posture stays good long into the future.
As you can see, the benefits of good posture will make your life so much better in such little time. Creating better posture for yourself at work and at home is something you need to do as soon as possible. When you are at home, make sure to sit and stand properly and when you are at work you need to do the same, either through buying a nice and comfortable chair or investing in any number or wonderful standing desks that will give you the sort of posture that will improve your body and overall health.
Experiencing the benefits of good posture is something you need to focus on daily, whether you are working or staying at home. There is no excuse for having bad posture. It’s just like our parents told us, stand and sit up straight! If you want more articles like this, make sure to sign up for our emails!
In 2020, many people struggled to set up a home office quickly. Our home offices have become a more permanent workplace than many of us imagined this time last year. Even as COVID-19 appears to be coming to an end, many people still want the option to work from home.
The transition to working from home was rough for many businesses and employees, and many struggled to find the right way to work remotely while keeping communication strong. Having the right space to work in was also difficult for people not used to working from home.
Now that people have gotten into the groove, it may prove difficult to go back to the office. People are productive and happy not having to commute. Staying at home is proving to be a viable option.
Even as things begin to get back to normal as we knew it, working from home is here to stay. This can mean setting up a permanent home office for many employees, even those who have been working from home. When choosing to work from home, you want to have the best possible work environment.
This work environment includes having the right space and office tools. Knowing how to set up the right home office can be confusing, even when people have been working from home for the past year. Having the right mindset will help everyone feel productive no matter what is going on.
Finding the Right Space
When first deciding to work from home, you must find the right space to work in. It should include the basics: a desk, a chair, and space for your computer. It should also have space for any additional materials that your job requires.
It will also help to set your home office apart from the rest of your house. Keep the door closed and have set hours when you’re working. Breaks can happen, but they should be regularly scheduled and timed.
The above step can be difficult with children at home. Parents have learned to master the art of multi-tasking while managing their work schedule on top of their child’s schoolwork. Maintaining a strict schedule and communicating will help keep your workday flowing.
What to Look for in a Home Office
Setting up a home office space can be restrictive for some people. Some people live in small houses or apartments or live with other people with similar work needs. Every home can fit a home office, it’s just a matter of thinking creatively.
If possible, having a space that is just for work can help establish a separation between work and home. If space is limited, a corner or table of your home will help set a space. Using curtains around your office during work hours will help keep distractions at bay as well.
You will want a space where you can complete your work. A place that is comfortable enough to work in without getting distracted. You want to try and create an office environment as much as possible in your home office.
This space needs to be big enough to have all of the materials you need to be successful at work. A desk, chair, and computer are the basics. Some jobs may require extra supplies and materials that you will need to account for.
When establishing a home office, you will want to ensure that the internet is reliable. With more people working from home, video conferences and employee chat services have become common. If more than one person is working from home you may want to consider your internet options.
Very few people can work from home distraction-free. You will want to plan and modify what you can to create a home office environment that works for you.
The Importance of Routine
Having the right space can be more than physical space, being in the right mindset helps. Having a schedule will help you concentrate on work, with or without kids. We all have distractions at home, pets, cleaning, and entertainment can draw us away from work.
Having structure will help you know what to do next day-to-day. Knowing that you start the day responding to emails before the morning meeting will help you stay on task. You can move from one task to the next and feel confident that everything is getting done.
Even a simple morning routine that you complete every day will help you get in the work mindset. When commuting, we rely on the commute to transition from home to work. When working from home you may want to establish a morning routine before heading to work.
Designing a Home Office
Once you have found the right office space and routine, you want a beautiful space to work in. Decorating your office can provide the final touch to making your home feel like an office. The right decor can also place you in the right state of mind for work.
By working at home, you have more control over how your office looks. Utilize the space to your advantage and create the work environment you want. Your new home office can be personalized and productive.
When decorating your home office you can play with colors and layout to create your ideal work environment. An office doesn’t have to be sterile. You can also play with style to bring out your personality while still being productive at work.
Though the home office is away from the rest of your home, you may still want personal items set up. Pictures and personal touches can help your office space feel less cold and more inviting. Having de-stressors readily available will help you decompress from the stressful moments of your job.
Any office should be conveniently organized. By laying out your space to optimize storage, you will know where everything is and keep clutter to a minimum. Depending on how much space you have, you will have to be creative with how things are stored.
Drawers and boxes can help with storing work supplies that you don’t need out all the time. For convenience’s sake, it is better to keep as many of your office supplies in your home office. That way, you’re not running around your house to find pens.
Working from home was a major adjustment for many people. One of the challenges for many people was finding the right furniture. Many of us were not used to buying office furniture for our homes and didn’t know where to start.
Even with working from home becoming more normalized and routine, knowing what furniture to get can be a struggle. With so many options and health considerations, getting office furniture seems more complicated than ever.
The good news is that all of the options available will help you find the right furniture. From standing desks to chairs that support your back, it has never been easier to get supportive office furniture.
This is a huge one when it comes to how to set up a home office. The defining feature of any office is the desk. Desks provide a sturdy work environment to work on. Having a desk can also help with your posture. If you are ready to work from home long-term, it is time to start with the desk.
Choosing your home office desk can provide you with more options. Desks come in several design options, from sturdy and classic to sleek and modern. Working from home allows you to get the desk you’ve always wanted.
When looking at desks, you may notice that standing desks have become popular. While many desks have a designated space for sitting all day, standing desks adjust to a standing position. Standing while working may seem uncomfortable, but it does come with several benefits.
Sitting too much can lead to several health complications, including higher blood pressure and blood sugar. While getting up and moving during designated breaks can help alleviate those symptoms, getting a standing desk will also help.
A standing desk will break the monotony of sitting all day. Many adults can sit for up to 12 hours a day. A standing desk will help you be healthier while you’re working. No under the desk bicycle required!
If you are not quite ready to commit to a standing desk, you can purchase a frame. Frames provide the basic framework for a standing desk without getting a new desk. Just add the surface for a standing desk that will help you stay healthy at work.
Besides alleviating serious health complications, standing desks can help with more immediate problems. Neck and back pain have been linked to long periods of sitting. Getting a standing desk can help you with multiple health concerns.
While standing desks do not require chairs, you may want to sit for some periods of your workday. Office chairs can be overlooked when looking at other office furniture. But overlooking office chairs can contribute to developing health problems.
Sitting all day is known to cause back and neck pain. Finding a supportive office chair will provide you the necessary back support for times you sit. Many chairs, including old office chairs, encourage bad posture by hunching or leaning too far forward. A good office chair will discourage bad posture habits and help you sit the right way.
A good office chair will help you relax and orient your sitting for optimal posture. Even when you’re reading on your computer all day. Back and neck pain can develop over time and you can prevent that with a good office chair.
Even with a good office chair, having a standing desk will keep back and neck pain at bay. We spend hours at work and we want to ensure that we take care of our bodies while doing so. The right desk and chairs will help with that goal.
Other Office Accessories
Having a home office is more than a desk and chair. A home office needs the right storage components. Work often requires us to save information, physically and digitally, and a storage system will keep that safe.
A filing cabinet, large or small, will keep your important information in one place. Having a dedicated storage system will help you keep organized while working at home. It will also be easier to work when you know where everything is.
Other office tools can help you complete your work and feel comfortable doing it. Computer monitor adjusters for desktop computers and footrests will help you use tools effectively. Working from home should be as comfortable as possible and the variety of options available allows that to happen.
Office tools should be used to help you stay organized and complete your job. Working from home can present many unique challenges. Getting and using the right office tools should not be among them.
Working from home opens up your work life to more freedom. You can set up your new office to what works best for you, from decorating to the furniture. 2020 forced many people into changes they were not ready for, but now that we have adjusted to those changes, many of us don’t want to go back.
Setting up a home office begins by:
- Finding the right space in your home
- Setting up a healthy work routine within your home
- Furnishing with a desk, chair and accessories
- Decorating to your desire
To learn more about how to set up a home office or other office ideas, sign up for our newsletter. We will send you new articles and blogs to help optimize your office. Work is constantly changing and we want to help you maintain peak wellness. Check out our standing desks here!
Pretty much everyone has a version of their dream home somewhere in their heads, but they may not know how to make it a reality. You might have a grand vision about a beautiful, personalized space but you have no idea where to start with the minutiae of interior design. Decorating your home can be a very rewarding process but also can be exhausting if you are starting from scratch.
Despite what you might think, there is a science to interior design. It’s not just about having a good eye—there is an objective component to what might seem like a purely subjective practice. Interior design is about making your physical space exude a particular character and style. It draws from several areas of study, including architecture, psychology, sociology, engineering, and more.
But getting into interior design can be hard if you do not know where to start. So to help you out, we put together this comprehensive guide on the basic fundamentals of interior design and style. We will talk about some basic principles of interior design and also talk about some popular interior design styles.
What is Interior Design?
According to the University of Northwestern Iowa School of Applied Human Sciences, Interior design is the application of creative and technical solutions to achieve a built interior environment. The point of interior design is to engineer interior environments to improve the quality of life and culture of people who live there.
So, in other words, interior design is all about creating beautiful spaces that are sensitive to the values, preferences, and aesthetic tastes of the people who live there. Interior design is a massive field and incorporates aspects of architecture, neuropsychology, social science, semiotics, and anthropology.
Interior Design vs Interior Decorating
The terms “interior design” and “interior decorating” are often used synonymously but refer to distinct practices. Interior design is focused less on specific decorative elements and instead focuses more on the abstract properties of a specific space like shape, light, form, color, and perspective. Interior design requires formal training and education whereas interior decorating does not.
Interior decorating, in contrast, is more about specific decorative elements like carpeting, wall coloring, furniture placement, pictures, etc. One way you can think about the relationship between the two is that interior design creates the overall drawing while an interior decorating colors it with a specific palette.
7 Elements of Interior Design
Interior design uses informal rules and principles that are based on core elements. Most texts identify 7 key elements of interior design. These elements form the basic building blocks of any particular design plan.
Space is one of those things we are all familiar with but would be hard-pressed to define. Space can be understood as the three dimensions that we exist in (length, width, height) or it can be understood by splitting it into two components: positive and negative space.
Positive space is the parts that contain objects while negative space is the parts that do not contain any objects. If you look around your apartment or house, you can probably immediately identify a few aspects of positive and negative space in the design.
Good interior design is based on balancing these two components of 3-D space. Too much positive space and things are cluttered. Too much negative space and things seem barren and sparse. Different styles lend themselves to different ratios of positive to negative space. For example, minimalist styles emphasize negative over positive space.
Lines are important to interior design because lines give the room shape. Furniture and structural elements can create various lines through a design that guide the eye and funnel attention. For example, think of the way that horizontal lines through things like tables and surfaces can make a room look wider. Conversely, vertical lines through tall furniture can make a room look taller.
Lines can also be dynamic and curved. A good example of dynamic lines common to interior design is stairs. The zig-zag shape of stairs provides a sense of momentum and movement to a room. Line placement is an important part of making sure that the human eye is focusing on intended design features.
Form refers to the 3-D shape of any objects in the room. Human beings seem naturally attuned to specific types of shapes and shapes can give a room a particular feeling. For example, did you know that humans are more likely to have a positive emotional reaction to rounded, curved shapes and are more likely to have negative emotional reactions to sharp, angular shapes?
Form can be divided into geometric or natural. Geometric forms include the common shapes that we all learned in elementary school—things like squares, triangles, cubes, pyramids, prisms, etc. Geometric forms typically have an artificial feel and evoke man-made objects. Natural forms, in contrast, are based on shapes and geometric patterns found in nature.
Light is an important aspect of any space. In general, light can be divided into task lighting, accent lighting, and mood lighting. Each type of lighting has a different purpose.
Task lighting is for a specific purpose, such a light so that people can see. For example, a well-designed office needs light so that workers can see. Accent lighting, in contrast, is meant to draw attention to specific spots. Mood lighting is meant to provide a particular emotional response of feeling.
There is also the distinction between natural and artificial light (e.g. lightbulbs, lamps, etc.). Modern trends in interior design emphasize natural light through the placement of windows, doors, and mirrors.
Color is an extremely important aspect of interior design and has a science all on its own. Color can create moods and emotions in humans and also can change our perception of objects and spaces. For instance, green and blue are associated with calming feelings while reds and oranges are more energetic.
One way to think about the color of the room is to think about what it will be used for. For example, red is often used in kitchens because it promotes appetite. The interaction of light and color is also an important consideration.
Texture refers to the tactile surface of an object. Texture is important because the surface of objects gives a room depth and dynamism. Think about the difference between solid, glossy, flat surfaces and textured rougher surfaces. The texture of a surface defines how it attracts the eye and how it contrasts with other objects.
A lack of texture can make a room seem flat or boring. A good interior designer knows how to use texture to make objects pop.
Pattern is closely related to both texture and color. Pattern is basically a repeated design element, like a pattern of lines, shapes, colors, etc. Patterns can be used as a focal point for the eye and can combine different types of colors and lines. Different styles lend themselves to different patterns. As a general rule of thumb, a room should incorporate no more than three patterns, so as not to overwhelm the eye.
Questions to Ask Yourself About Interior Design
Before embarking on your interior design journey, take some time to ask you these key questions.
What is my ultimate goal?
To get started, you need to find your inspiration. Ask yourself questions like “what is my ultimate goal for this space?” You can’t start designing unless you have a semi-coherent idea of what you are trying to achieve. Do you want to completely redesign a space or change just a few elements? Do you intend to use the room for a specific purpose? Answering these questions will help turn your idea into a full-fledged vision.
How do I plan to elevate the space?
Here it is instructive to refer to the 7 elements of design we covered earlier. Becoming fluent with these elements will help you figure out how to change a space.
How invested do I want to be?
Another key question is about your commitment. Be honest with how much time and effort you are willing to devote to the project. You do not want to bite off more than you can chew and be stuck with a tepid and not very inspired design.
What is my timeline and budget?
Obviously, budget and time concerns are important. A full-scale interior design is an involved process that requires a lot of time and money. So make sure you plan your design within reasonable parameters.
Common Interior Design Styles
Interior design is a multi-faceted approach that is heavily dependent on specific designers. That being said, there are some key general styles that have emerged in recent years as popular templates. Here are just a few of the more popular general design styles.
The traditional interior design style can trace its roots back to the stylings of 18th and 19th century England and France. The traditional style is characterized by its reliance on ornate structures, luxurious materials like silk and velvet, and wood materials. Traditional style design also emphasizes a kind of high-class aesthetic. It’s like the classical music of interior design. This form of design used to be incredibly popular in the Americas but has slowly forfeited some of its ground to other styles.
Modernist styles emerged in the 20th century and are best-contrasted with traditional styles. Whereas traditional styles focus on patterns, textures, and ornate furniture, modernist styles feature clean lines, smooth surfaces, and a kind of ‘streamlined” look. Modernist styles also leave behind the more earthen tones of classical design and incorporate brighter and bolder colors.
Minimalist styles, as the name implies, strip away inessential details and put core design elements first and foremost. Minimalist style is based on the aphorism that “less is more” and emphasizes negative space, straight lines, and simple surfaces. We have heard minimalist styles described as “Ikea-chique” before and we think that an accurate descriptor. Minimalism also heavily focuses on functional aspects of space and furniture.
Rustic styles are popular in the American South and Southwest and feature natural, muted colors, simple color palettes, rustic finishes, and heavily textured surfaces. Rustic styles are informed by the specific locale. For example, in the Southwest, rustic styles tend to be based on Spanish textiles, natural shapes, and simple metals like iron. Leather is a common material used for upholstery in rustic designs.
Common in larger cities and industrial towns, the industrial style is characterized by its minimalist design and focus on building materials. One aspect of industrial design is the art of exposed beams and concrete in the walls. Industrial styles are usually coded as ‘masculine” brutalist styles but can be softened with the proper application of color and texture.
The Art Deco style was popularized in the central regions of France and eventually made its way to the United States during the early 20th century. Art Deco is known for its jagged shapes and lines as well as its bold and experimental color palette. Art Deco has also become known for its oversized furniture and use of metal in structures.
The Bohemian style is defined by its eclectic and multi-faceted nature. The Bohemian style is hard to define as it incorporates so many distinct styles and elements in novel ways. Characteristic features include a penchant for open spaces and a willingness to mix multiple cultural elements. Bright colors and accents are common on the walls and furniture. Rich woods and solid metals are also common design elements.
Interior design is a highly varied practice and there is ample opportunity for self-expression within it. The key aspect of interior design is to find new ways to play with elements of light space, line, color, and more to create attractive designs that improve quality of life. Interior design is a very rewarding practice and can transform your living space to match the vision that you have in your head.
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As the unforgettable year of 2020 comes to a close, it is only natural to reflect on what we’ve learned. And all that has changed over this 365-day whirlwind. Some lessons that come to mind. Wash our hands (a lot), strive to be prepared for just about anything, and expect the unexpected.
I think most workplaces have seen some type of significant changes in their work environment since the COVID-19 pandemic rocked our society. For those of us who work in an office setting, we’ve seen wild changes.
Mask requirements, teleworking options, socially distanced meetings, and virtual office holiday parties are just a few of the changes that come to mind.
Working From Home
One of the most obvious ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the office work environment is clear. Tons of people now work from home! If you have an office job, then you most likely spent the majority of this past year working from home. There is also a good chance that you are still working from home now. There are benefits and drawbacks related to this work-from-home era that we are currently living in.
Benefits of Working From Home
There are actually a lot of surprising benefits related to a large portion of our population working from home. It actually helps the environment by causing fewer cars to be out on the road. This, in turn, causes fewer fossil fumes to be entering our atmosphere.
This reduction in cars on the road also causes fewer traffic jams and overall, fewer car accidents as well. The commuters out there will definitely attest to these benefits and more!
Some studies have shown that workers are actually more efficient when given the freedom to work from home. Employees are found to be more productive when given the flexibility to work at their own schedule.
Working from home benefits the employers just about as much as it benefits the employees themselves. Costs are reduced due to fewer people occupying the office meaning there are less utility, electricity, and real estate costs.
Working From Home
The flexibility of working from home has actually even reduced turnaround time for businesses when it comes to retaining employees. The flexible schedule causes morale to be boosted. Employees to stick around longer than they would have if forced to work in an office all the time.
Quality of Life
Another benefit to teleworking is that it improves the employee’s quality of life. Employees can get their full work done without having to leave their families for 40 hours a week.
Although employees with children still have to take time away from their kids, they are given a new ability. This is to spend time with their children on lunch breaks and right before and after they work.
This is in comparison to having to leave early, drive to work, be away all day, and then have a long drive home.
Another benefit to teleworking is a lower personal cost for employees. Employees who are given the ability to work from home spend less money on transportation, work attire, and office supplies.
Drawbacks of Working From Home
Although there are a lot of benefits to working from home, there are of course some disadvantages as well.
Many employees have a harder time focusing on their work when working from home. Being at home can be very distracting. It is easy to notice things that need to be done around the house such as cleaning and organizing.
It can also be very difficult to focus for employees who have children running around. Especially since a lot of kids are distance learning.
There are also security concerns for businesses when their employees are working from home. Since teleworking employees have to be given access to company software, there is always the risk that their passcode could end up in the hands of the wrong person. This could lead to security breaches and issues for the company.
Another drawback of working from home is the lack of social interaction. A lot of workers have their families at home but a lot of workers don’t. For employees who live alone or are new to the area and don’t know many people, working from home can have negative effects on mental health.
Being cooped up in a house all day isn’t really good for anyone. Many companies have done a great job at planning virtual gatherings and meetings via Zoom (more on that later). It can still be really hard on people to have such a reduction in social interaction.
Another rather obvious way that office work has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is with the requirement of mask-wearing. This requirement definitely has an effect on employees and their management.
Effect on Employers
The requirement to wear face coverings in the office space leaves management with a lot of decisions to make. Do they require face coverings at all times? Or is it okay for employees to remove their masks when sitting in their individual offices or when socially distanced?
This also creates an interesting dynamic for employees who work in cubicles versus employees who are able to have their own office. It seems a little unfair that employees who have the luxury of an office get to remove their masks while cubicle workers would probably have to keep theirs on all day.
Employers might have to work on making things fairer for employees. Maybe by rotating the offices or by providing more socially distanced workspaces. That way, everyone can be given the option to remove their masks throughout the day.
Employers are also left with the responsibility to provide face coverings for their employees. Although many employees already have face coverings due to the widespread requirement of masks in the public, there is always the chance that someone will leave theirs at home.
Employers have had to invest money in multiple mask options for their employees and other types of face coverings.
Some employees who have certain types of physical ailments such as COPD or asthma might not be able to wear a traditional mask and may require something more breathable like a plastic face shield.
These new issues have to be taken into consideration.
Effect on Employees
Requiring face coverings in the workplace has an effect on employees just as much as it has an effect on their management. Face masks are just one more thing that a person has to think about in the morning as they’re rushing out of the house to get to work.
Wearing a face mask can also cause you to socialize less with coworkers and just feel generally disconnected from the people who surround you at work.
Face masks are obviously extremely important and we have to wear them, but they come with disadvantages as well. For employees who suffer from anxiety or claustrophobia, wearing a face mask can be extremely stressful.
Also, for employees who have COPD or asthma, they may not be able to wear a face mask. Other face-covering options exist but they come with issues as well. Such as plastic face shields and the way they fog up when a person talks.
Luckily for many employees in the office setting, you might be able to pull your mask down when sitting alone in your office or if you are able to social distance when in the office setting. But not everyone has that option.
As offices slowly reopen, one infection prevention tactic that they may use would involve staggering schedules. This would involve having some employees work from home on given days of the week in order to avoid having a lot of people in the office all at once. Some office spaces will slowly bring back employees rather than reopening the entire office all at once.
Staggering schedules is a pretty smart concept for office spaces because it could allow employees to work at a further distance from each other.
It would also allow for high touch areas such as break rooms and restrooms to be exposed to fewer people in a given day. Being able to clean these areas frequently and having fewer people using them daily is a really great way for offices to prevent infection.
One way that offices could stagger schedules is by looking at different divisions at their company. They could have groups that work closely with one another work on the same days while other groups work on other days. That way those who need to collaborate are all present on the same days.
This type of shift staggering definitely comes with its challenges and will take some adjustment for most employees. Going into the office on varying days throughout the week can be confusing and overwhelming.
Some employees might find it hard to keep track of their schedules as they continually change. It seems like we’ve all been doing a lot of adjusting this last year and the office space workforce is no exception.
Another adjustment to the office environment that has occurred in the last year is the vast use of Zoom for meetings, interviews, and even gatherings like happy hour. Encouraging bonding between coworkers is one of the best ways to boost a workplace’s morale.
Something about those conference room parties every month or so just really helps everyone take a step back and just connect as people, rather than workers.
Unfortunately thanks to the pandemic, these types of gatherings just aren’t very safe right now. Since they are such an important part of creating a positive workspace, many offices are turning to platforms like Zoom to have virtual happy hour and other types of group discussions with coworkers.
Talking to someone through a screen will never feel the same as having a real in-person discussion but we are honestly lucky to have software that still allows us to connect with people regardless of our locations.
Programs like Zoom and Skype are also being relied heavily upon by businesses for more reasons than just catching up with work friends. These types of platforms are also an important tool for companies to use for meetings and job interviews. Being able to collaborate with multiple people at once over a virtual platform is something that has saved so many businesses during this challenging time.
We’ve all been making a lot of different adjustments this year and showing ourselves just how adaptable we really are. What we’re facing in the workplace is no different. The office environment has changed immensely in the last year and workers are facing these changes directly.
Things like mask requirements, staggered schedules, and teleworking are showing us just how much of an impact this pandemic has had on every aspect of life.
Employers and employees alike are understanding the benefits and drawbacks associated with all of these changes.
Some aspects, like teleworking, might have more advantages than disadvantages. Whereas aspects like mask-wearing are just an overall challenge, yet we all know we have to do.
Luckily, we have a lot of great resources at our fingertips that make these changes happen just a little bit more smoothly.
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The main aim of office ergonomics is to enable every worker to perform their tasks efficiently while preserving their health. This has become somewhat challenging with so many people choosing to work from their mobile devices. Add the rapid pace of technological development and you get ergonomists working frantically to keep up.
Investing in contemporary office ergonomics has a certain pay off. You will have healthier and more efficient workers who are devoted to your company’s progress. With this in mind, here are several ways you can improve ergonomics in the workplace.
At its core, ergonomics is about aligning the workspace with the human body and not the other way around. When done properly, ergonomics reduces pain, increases productivity and decreases workers’ compensation claims.
However, the solution isn’t just buying everyone an adjustable office chair. Unfortunately ergonomics cannot be reduced to just one piece of equipment. It’s essentially a holistic approach to the way people work. Because we come in all shapes and sizes, we all work differently.
Contrary to common belief, ergonomics isn’t necessarily expensive. Sometimes it just takes furniture rearrangement so everything is within easy reach. And ergonomic equipment today isn’t as costly as it used to be, especially when compared to potential injury claims.
Typical ergonomic injuries
Ergonomic injuries typically take a long time to heal and can be ultimately more harmful than sudden injuries. Contrary to a sprained ankle resulting from a fall, an ergonomic injury is different. It’s a fundamental change in the structure of joints or muscles. As these injuries happen slowly and gradually, even the employee may be unaware of it. They might experience fatigue, stiffness, and pain initially. But as microscopic tears and inflammation continue to build up, the condition worsens.
Most workers just accept the condition as something that comes with the territory, but it doesn’t have to be so. Conditions such as repetitive strain injuries, carpal tunnel, back and neck pain can be prevented. This is done by replacing traditional equipment with ergonomic equipment.
Some employees are at a greater risk of ergonomic injuries than others. The obvious signs that they are under physical and psychological stress are clear. This includes awkward body postures, wrist deviations, frequent reaching, repeated vibration in arms, hands and body. The more risk factors there are for the employee, the bigger the chances they will develop a health issue.
To find the best solution, it’s necessary to do an ergonomic audit of your offices. This includes collecting all the data regarding job tasks, movement patterns, layout, and problem areas. This will help you make the necessary modifications.
Setting up the workstation
To help your company run at peak efficiency, you might need to consult an expert ergonomist in order to set up an ergonomic workstation. As each employee has different needs and modifications, it’ll be necessary to focus on different areas such as head positions, hand and arm positions, and seated positions. All adjustments must enable the worker to sit or stand comfortably without any strain.
Asthe people behind this master’s degree in product and interior design explain, designing a space requires a deeper study and understanding of the complexity of the world and the ability to adapt products to suit it. Creating a space that is both comfortable and functional requires the study of furniture ergonomics, adjustability, use of sustainable materials and lighting. Too much light can be overwhelming to the brain, and too little can cause eye strain that workers often try to compensate by adopting awkward postures. Ergonomists can help find the sweet spot.
Selecting the right equipment
Once you’ve got the analysis of your office environment and its specific needs, it is important to pick the right equipment. Ergonomic business solutions typically include ergonomic keyboards that adjust to hand size, arm length and body type, mice with options for both right and left-handed workers, wrist rests, adjustable standing desks and ergonomic chairs.
Involving the staff
People generally oppose change, even if it’s for their own good. To reap the benefits of workplace ergonomics, both the management and staff need to understand how important it is for everyone’s health. Most of your workers will have gotten used to their current work habits and fail to notice the connection between movement patterns and health. With ergonomic innovations, they’ll have to get out of their comfort zones and learn new skills.
Educate and encourage teams to make the necessary change by explaining that ergonomics is about the individual and how such changes can improve their long-term health through ergonomics awareness training.
Once you improve your office ergonomics, the overall mood, health and productivity will change in unexpected ways. Make sure you continue the communication with your employees to identify potential issues and find room for further improvement. By implementing the principles of contemporary office ergonomics, you will jumpstart a positive wave of increased productivity and improved health.
Author’s bio: Lillian Connors is an interior design expert and a senior content strategist at Spread the Word Solutions. She is always doing her best to help her clients find their place in the ever so competitive business arena, insisting on long-term sustainability rather than on some questionable get-rich-fast scheme. She’s also deeply into green practices, cherishing the notion that sustainable housing and gardening will not only make us far less dependent on others regarding the dwellings we inhabit and what we eat, but also contribute to our planet being a better place to live on.
Creating a good office design does not have to be a painful process. Additionally, it also does not mean you have to hire an interior designer or shell out tons of money to create a beautiful place. If you are a DIY type of person than you could use this article as a guide to get a plan together, source your own office furniture and install everything.
If you are anything like me then you would rather outsource that and pay someone like us to design your ideal office space, provide all of the furniture and install it. The route you choose is up to you! But without further ado, here are 6 basics of Good Office Design:
1. Start with Your Goals of the Office Design
- Improve current team’s wellness and productivity
- Create a space that clients love to go to
- Maximize the amount of team members we can fit into the office
- Maximize the amount of team members we can fit into the office
- Create an environment that helps us attract the best talent
- Spend the least amount possible to accomplish goals 1 and 2
Or someone with a home office may have:
- Create a beautiful space I want to be in every day
- Have an office that enhances my health and well-being
Each of these sets of goals is perfect when considering the basics of good office design and Direction Desk has worked with each of these types of clients. Furthermore, your space is one component that can help you reach your goals, so it is wise to be strategic about it.
2. Natural Lighting Is a Huge Part of the Basics of Good Office Design
If your space has windows, then try take advantage of that by putting desks near them. Organize the desks so that the sun is not directly in anyone’s eyes. Natural lighting has been shown to play a large role in the Health and Well-being of the people in the office. People can expect better energy, sleep and sense of well-being if they get adequate amounts of natural light.
Most companies or individuals have to work with what they have and that may mean low amounts of natural light in your office. There are solutions in artificial lighting that can have similar benefits to large amounts of natural light. Just try and follow these few key tips.
The 4 Key Tips of Natural Lighting
- Combing a color temperature of 5000K or more. A CRI between 80 and 90 simulates natural sunlight and is best used in spaces that you want to feel invigorating.
- Use a color temperature of about 2500k for areas that you want to feel warm and cozy. This is great for areas you expect to be social and relaxing.
- Space Lighting can help modify the space’s lighting by the feel you are going for at certain times of day. Y lighting allows you to choose the color temperature you want for most of their lighting products.
- Do not place desks directly under ceiling lights.
Check out Top Bulb to purchase actual bulbs based on the color temperature you want. These bulbs can be used in the ceiling, some lamps, etc. Getting the lighting right is a subtle but key component of your office’s design and feel.
3. Movement Based Design
Humans are not meant to sit in one spot for 8-10 hours every day! Incorporating movement into you or your team’s workday has benefits well beyond just keeping up with the times. That phrase sitting is the new smoking rings very true.
Traditional office space with one desk to sit and work at all day is killing our mental and physical well-being. That said incorporate movement into your office by doing the following.
- Use an adjustable standing desk and switch between sitting and standing throughout the day
- Create a separate place away from your desk to do brainstorming, collaborate, etc. If you work from home that may mean you create a brainstorm area a few feet from your desk. The key is to have at least 2 different locations where you or your team can do work during the day.
Steve Jobs said “Design is not just how it looks and feels. Design is how it works.” This couldn’t be truer with office design. Good office design should look and feel great and also make you look and feel great!
4. Bring the Outdoors Indoors
There is an area of design called Biophilic Design. It is essentially the process of bringing the outdoors in through the use of nature in the space, views of nature from the space, and elements that resemble nature. Buildings with this type of design have been shown to make real, tangible improvements in occupants’ general sense of well-being.
One can begin to reap the benefits of biophilic design by following a few key steps:
- Incorporate natural materials and colors into the space. Paint with earth-tones, use real-wood desktops, add pictures of nature into the space. The use of lighter earth-tones will also have an added bonus of reflecting more natural light, so it’s a win-win!
- Non-rythmic Sensory Stimuli is a very interesting design tool that can offer huge improvements into the look and feel of your space. This is a part of biophilic design because in nature there is always some movement happening out of the corner of our eye (a squirrel running up a tree, a stream flowing, or a campfire flickering). One easy way to introduce this into our office space is with indoor water features. You can get beautiful ones for less than $500. Offices have gotten very creative with this by implementing kinetic facades into the office space.
- Bring in the Plants!! Plants are a great, easy way to add positive energy and life to an area. There is not much to say here other than go buy some plants. They are imperative to good office design.
With many office’s electing for the open office space design, acoustics are becoming more and more important. A little background noise is good, especially if it’s an indoor water feature making the noise. But in order for you or your team to be most effective, they should be able to comfortably talk on the phone without hearing distracting noises in the background.
The best way to find this happy medium is through Sound Absorption. Sound absorption allows you to create an open office space that also has the privacy and quietness needed to be productive. There are tons of products that can help the acoustics of your office space.
3 Essential Tips For Optimal Acoustics
- Panels that attach to your standing desk to create a little privacy at each workstation
- Modular screens and panels that can section off areas and add a little separation to the design
- Acoustic Tiles that can enhance the look of a wall while also helping to absorb more sound
Having an office space that is quiet enough to concentrate but not hidden from the rest of the world is a something you must get right if you want to design a good office space.
6. Make the Design Space Uniquely Yours
Add little knick knacks to your office that speak to what you and your team do or stand for. Ikonick is a great brand that sells inspirational canvas art that can be a great addition to any office. The basics of good office design always include making the space uniquely yours. What do you and your team value? What inspires you?
This can be a great tool to not only increase your own satisfaction with the place but also give your guests more insight into yourself or company.
Conclusion of the Basics of Good Office Design
Those are our 6 Basics of Good Office Design. One could dive way deeper into designing their office or just use these basics to truly create an office they will love. Again, 6 basics of good office design are:
- Start with your goals for the office space
- Get lots of natural light or mimic natural light
- Design movement into your workspace
- Bring the outdoors indoors through plants, colors and natural materials
- Control the acoustics of your workspace with sound absorption
- Add some canvas art, photo or office accessory that speaks to you and makes the space uniquely yours