Your Quest: develop the means to make your work environment as comfortable as possible.
What does it mean to have comfortability when it comes to the work environment? Maybe you’re a part of the 3.2% of the workforce that telecommutes, or you bounce around your local coffee shops, perhaps you simply work in an office cubicle. Where, really doesn’t ultimately matter. At the end of the day, wherever you find yourself working, it should feel at least a little comfortable, right?
So let’s dive in and see how to create your ideal work environment.
I will give you a quick warning before we go too far into this list. All the actions we describe below are not to be done once and then discarded. Finding that perfect comfort zone where you can enter your flow will demand some of your time, energy, and in some cases that good ol’ elbow grease. All for the desire of reducing work stress.
Yeah we’re going to start out with the biggest and possibly hardest action first. It also just so happens to have the largest impact on morale and mental health in general. The deep clean.
Having a clean workspace will provide you with the ability to live an organized life. Regardless of whether you work at home or in an office, the work environment ideally should be well organized and clean.
Cleaning your workspace isn’t just for you either. Everyone that might share your workspace with you will benefit from the actions you take to organize, clean, and adjust.
This is because a lot of the time, emotions are contagious. One good deed truly can lead to other good deeds, helping to bring positivity and improve morale in the office! Depending on your situation it might take a significant time investment upfront, however at the end of the recycling bin you will find salvation and joy in the form of an organized desk and clean work space.
Whether you’re doing some spring cleaning, or just spending the time to have a deep clean, make sure to not forget the calendar. Having some method of time tracking and project management will improve your long term motivation. A study has found that tracking multiple ongoing projects of varying degrees of difficulty helps encourage brain development, and boosts motivation. Doing so will also clear up some clutter in your mind.
Utilizing a planner will also clear up space on your desk and constrain dates and appointments to one centralized area. Plus most planners are rather slim and will fit much easier on your desk.
Before you get too deep into the cleaning process, make sure you have an organizational method in mind on how to create a positive work environment for you. That means either alphabetizing, color coding, Dewey Decimal System, whatever floats your boat just stick to it!
That way 3 months down the line you won’t have to redo all the work you just did, and it will save you some time. Label makers are pretty inexpensive these days and are one great way to get started on your path to building a more functional workspace, and maximizing your comfortability.
- Make sure to have a clean work space as clutter will affect your mood and productivity.
- Clean up or start using your calendar to take some weight off your mind.
- Maintain the cleanliness you’ve established.
It might come as no surprise to some of you that “comfortable shoes for the office” is an extremely common google search.
When you’re at work and on your feet, or at your desk, the last thing you should be worrying about is the comfort of your feet or your general comfort at all! Finding the clothing that makes you comfortable will also help in your general self-esteem and confidence. We found that those who spent time on their appearance through shopping and finding comfortable clothing actually had a noticeably higher self image and confidence. So don’t be afraid of getting those new shoes and making your own comfortable, and healthy work environment.
Our temperature plays a huge role in our lives. In fact, temperature plays such a large part that a 2019 study of the long-term impact of high temperatures at birth found some pretty interesting things. The biggest among these findings was that those born even 1 °C above average tended to have lower levels of education and earned up to 0.7% less over the course of their life.
Needless to say then that temperatures matter for the ideal work environment. A study found that there is a direct correlation between temperatures and productivity where too high of temperatures and the inverse would cause drastic decreases in motivation and would create an unhealthy work environment.
Thankfully with this information, you know the importance of finding that perfect temperature to support your focus and nourish creativity. If you find the office running a bit too cold frequently, make sure to bring a blanket or an extra jacket. On the opposite end, you could invest in some lighter clothing and cooled beverages. The trick is working within your company’s dress code and finding the right clothing that works for you.
Of course, if you feel that the temperature is consistently outside your comfort range and the dress code policy is restrictive, you should communicate that with your boss or supervisor. After all, it would be in their best interest too, to ensure you are indeed working at your best pace.
Unfortunately a lot of the time, finding what makes you most comfortable also means spending money. However if it means you no longer experience back pain, arthritis, RSI (insert link to RSI post here), or any number of other ailments, it’s likely worth it. And as always, make sure to consult a medical professional if your pains are recurring and long-lasting.
- Invest in the comfortability and attractiveness of clothing for long lasting impacts.
- Bring from home anything that helps you stay in your ideal temperature.
- Communicate with your boss about the dress code if you’re consistently uncomfortable.
We already touched on this a little bit, but there is still so much that can be solved with some communication between the staff that isn’t about the weather.
It’s a simple concept that can be lost in the everyday tasks, but taking the time to know your environment through lunch or breaks definitely will make you feel more at home. If there aren't any events set up or community lunches, communicate to your boss or HR department about how having them will help improve morale, and how morale affects sales and productivity. After all, this study finds that firms with higher levels of sales force morale enjoy greater sales force productivity and lower turnover.
Another change that may take a bit more persuasion on your part , is the introduction and use of standing desks to your work environment. While the study finds that the desks themselves don’t improve productivity, they also have no real impact in productivity at all. However where they shine is in comfort and longevity.
A sit-stand desk will allow you to continue your work even when you’re taking a break for your circulation. It will keep you agile, have a large possibility of reducing pain in your hips or lumbar region, and you will be able to easily transition to taking a momentary break or refilling your water bottle.
As long as you are already wearing comfortable shoes to work and don’t push yourself too much, using a sit-stand desk could really help improve your everyday work environment, even if you don’t use it every day. It will introduce more variability in your posture and encourage you to move a little more during your work day.
In fact, implementing anything that focuses on ergonomics and comfort could be a major benefit to the everyday tasks at work as depicted in this study where various tasks were completed with restrictions. The tasks completed with the ergonomic designed work environment fared far better than those without.
I definitely encourage you to communicate these ideas with your coworkers, supervisors, or human resources department as your comfortability is paramount to your productivity and longevity in any work environment.
- Find a sense of community in your work environment through lunches and get-togethers.
- Explore the option of introducing sit-stand desks to your office space.
- Find small ergonomic items to help improve your productivity and comfort.
Last but most certainly not least is decorating. Finding little aspects of home at work helps ease the mind and reduces the impacts that impersonal environments can have on the mind.
If you’re able, bring anything that reminds you of home or of comfort to the office. Also make sure to bring a plant as having some greenery in the office environment definitely helps with the “environment” aspect. Furthermore, this study indicates it may also help reduce feelings of depression.
If you find yourself within an environment that is rather monotone, bringing in small splashes of color will make it more personal and more inviting. However consider avoiding rather strong hues. A 2007 study found that although color played a rather large part in productivity, certain colors had unforeseen negative effects. For example a red office set-up was used in the study and they found that while it did increase the stimuli and reception to new ideas, it also increased anxiety and anger within their subjects.
Also try and avoid bringing items that are visually complex. The additional complexity will cause the mind to wander and you might find yourself staring at the 3d puzzle that you brought in. In fact you’d likely have the whole office staring at that.
- Bring items from home that establish comfort for you.
- Find flowers or live plants that you can take care of as they’ll liven up the office.
- Implement some colors into your work environment so long as they don’t distract.
And there you have it! If you find yourself experiencing some discomfort in the office, it’s critically important that you do what you can to improve your comfortability. Also, I just want to ingrain the importance of keeping up on the organization and cleanliness. We’ve all cleaned up a space before and watched as it somehow slowly returned to its previous messy state.
Now that you know how to find comfort in your work environment, you’ll be able to just relax and work.
An, Mihyang, et al. “Why We Need More Nature at Work: Effects of Natural Elements and Sunlight on Employee Mental Health and Work Attitudes.” PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0155614.
Cai, Xiqian, et al. “The Impact of Temperature on Manufacturing Worker Productivity: Evidence from Personnel Data.” Journal of Comparative Economics, Academic Press, 26 July 2018, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014759671830204X.
Erkens, Valerie A., et al. “Social Identification and Contagious Stress Reactions.” Psychoneuroendocrinology, Pergamon, 24 Nov. 2018, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306453018306024.
Fishman, Ram, et al. “Long-Term Impacts of Exposure to High Temperatures on Human Capital and Economic Productivity.” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Academic Press, 27 Nov. 2018, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0095069618301098.
Global Workplace Analytics. “2018 Alternative Workplace Strategies Fifth Biennial Benchmarking Study.” Global Workplace Analytics, https://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/telecommuting-statistics.
Gonzalez-Jimenez, Hector. “Associations between Cosmopolitanism, Body Appreciation, Self-Esteem and Sought Functions of Clothing.” Personality and Individual Differences, Pergamon, 2 June 2016, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886916304172.
Karakolis, Thomas, and Jack P. Callaghan. “The Impact of Sit–Stand Office Workstations on Worker Discomfort and Productivity: A Review.” Applied Ergonomics, Elsevier, 21 Oct. 2013, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003687013002093.
Kwallek, Nancy, et al. “Work Week Productivity, Visual Complexity, and Individual Environmental Sensitivity in Three Offices of Different Color Interiors.” Color Research & Application, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 26 Feb. 2007, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/col.20298.
Laurence, Gregory A., et al. “‘My Space’: A Moderated Mediation Model of the Effect of Architectural and Experienced Privacy and Workspace Personalization on Emotional Exhaustion at Work.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, Academic Press, 27 July 2013, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272494413000534.
McMains, Stephanie, and Sabine Kastner. “Interactions of Top-down and Bottom-up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex.” The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 12 Jan. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21228167.
Panagopoulos, Nikolaos G., et al. “Boosting Sales Force Morale in Highly Dynamic, Complex Markets: The Role of Job Resources.” Industrial Marketing Management, Elsevier, 19 June 2018, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0019850117308660.
Resnick, M. L., and A. Zanotti. “Using Ergonomics to Target Productivity Improvements.” Computers & Industrial Engineering, Pergamon, 17 May 1998, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0360835297000703.
Thank you for the insight and your great products. I ordered the leather wrist rest to help me bring life to my workspace at home.