If your idea of a “comfortable workspace” is being at home in your PJs with a steaming mug of coffee beside you, life in cubicle land will never be ideal. But even if you’re not lucky enough to be able work from home, you can make your workspace more comfortable by tweaking just a few important factors:
In a perfect world, you’d have a corner office with big windows and lots of natural light. In real life, you may need to make a few changes to prevent eye strain. The most obvious problem is glare, which tends to happen when you have a window either directly in front of or directly behind your desk chair. In that case, you may want to look into getting some type of shade to use during times when the sun is shining directly onto your computer screen.
If you’re in a cube farm, you probably have fluorescent lighting, which has both its good points and its bad points. To make the most of it, add task lighting by way of a lamp with a flexible neck. That way you can direct extra light right to where you need it without creating a glare anywhere else.
Unless your employer provides everyone with a customized desk chair, you’re probably going to have to make some adjustments on the fly. Fortunately, that isn’t too hard. How does your chair measure up on this checklist?
- Height: Ideally, your feet should be flat on the floor, and the armrests should be at desk height. If you’re on the short side, try adding a footrest so that you can raise your chair a little bit.
- Cushion: To quote Little Red Riding Hood, the cushion should be your version of “just right” – not too hard, and not too soft. Ideally, the cushion should be made out of a breathable material, but if that’s out of your control, consider getting a chair cover like this one.
- Lumbar support: Ideally, your chair should provide lumbar support that encourages you to sit with correct posture. If you’re sitting straight up with your feet on the floor – which is the only ergonomically correct way to sit – the lumbar support should lightly touch the lower part of your back, where it curves in. If it doesn’t, try adjusting the recline angle or raising or lowering the backrest. If those options don’t help, consider providing your own lumbar support.
Now that you’ve got your back taken care of, make sure you don’t spoil it by having your computer monitor at the wrong level. The monitor should be at eye level, which means that, if you’re sitting straight up in your chair (you are, right?) a line drawn from your eyes to the monitor should hit about 2-3 inches from the top. If it’s not at the right height, don’t adjust your chair; adjust your computer monitor. Most people have theirs set too low; raising it is as simple as setting it on top of a few books or file folders.
The other thing to consider when it comes to your computer monitor is eye strain. The brightness of your display plays a big role. You don’t want it to shine like the sun in your cave of an office, but neither do you want it to look like a black hole. Play around with the brightness of your screen until you find a level that makes your eyes happy – no squinting! – and doesn’t start a headache brewing.
Finding an office temperature that makes everybody happy is about as likely as Elvis returning to Earth aboard a spacecraft. But you can make your own little corner of the office more to your liking by keeping a heater and/or a fan handy to handle temperature fluctuations. Just check with your facilities manager to make sure it’s allowed – some offices consider it to be a safety hazard.
Your workspace may never feel like “home sweet home,” but, with a few minor adjustments, you can create an environment that doesn’t leave you feeling like you got run over by a truck at the end of the day. What changes have you made to customize your workspace?