Did you know that workspaces can affect your health and the health of your employees? Working in a disorganized, dirty or inefficient workspace can lead to increased stress levels and a lack of concentration. Sitting all day at a desk with a poor ergonomic design can lead to physical problems like carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and tendonitis. However, an efficient and ergonomically designed workspace boosts employee morale, improves health and increases productivity. If your workspaces need improvement, here are six steps that will help you create a healthy workspace:
1. Reorganize Your Workspaces
One of the first things that can be done to positively impact the health of employees is to reorganize workspaces. In some cases, that may be as simple as clearing off desktops and putting away items that are not presently being used while keeping frequently used tools and supplies nearby. It might also help to clear away clutter around desks, such as unnecessary file boxes and office supplies. In other cases, it might be better to design and furnish greener and more efficient workspaces to improve employee mood, increase productivity and promote employee health.
2. Clean Your Workspaces
Cleaning workspaces can positively impact both the physical and mental health of employees. A clean workspace looks more professional and inspires employees to work more efficiently. Clean workspaces also present a better first impression to prospective clients. Additionally, clean workspaces provide a healthier environment and minimize the number of workspace illnesses because of a reduced exposure to bacteria and viruses. Employers benefit from clean workspaces through lower absenteeism, reduced health insurance premiums and increased productivity.
3. Improve Your Workspace Ergonomics
Poor workspace ergonomics causes such things as irritability, anxiety, increased stress levels and depression. This results in diminished work performance, increased health care, greater absenteeism and higher worker’s compensation costs. The simplest way to reduce the effects of poor ergonomics is to provide frequent breaks so that employees can walk away from their workspaces for a few minutes at a time. A more substantial way to improve office ergonomics, though, would be to replace old, outdated furniture with new furniture of a more ergonomic design.
4. Personalize Your Workspaces
In addition to making workspaces more ergonomic, it is a good idea to let employees personalize their workspaces to fit their individual needs. Within policy guidelines, employees should be able to make their workspaces their own by including personal photographs and other items that help them maintain their focus throughout the day. One thing that has been shown to have positive psychological effects on employees is the inclusion of live plants in the office. Introducing some greenery into the workspace is known to reduce fatigue, anxiety, tension and depression.
5. Increase Employee Physical Activity
For the purpose of creating a healthy workspace, employees should be encouraged to increase their physical activity throughout the day. In addition to taking short breaks as previously mentioned, employees should use the stairs instead of the elevators whenever possible. Employers that have the resources to do so could provide exercise programs, equipment and training as well as gym memberships. Additionally, workspaces could be redesigned to include furniture that promotes increased physical activity, such as desks that require employees to stand.
6. Eat Healthier Snacks
Whether snacks are provided by the employer or the employee, it is important that the snacks are nutritious. Rather than loading up on snacks that contain empty calories, a better choice would be nuts, raisins, dried fruit and trail mix. Sandwiches made with whole grain crackers and peanut butter or bananas are also good options. Unhealthy snacks like potato chips, pretzels, muffins and cakes should be avoided. When a sweet tooth tempts an employee to run to the vending machine for a candy bar, a small amount of dark chocolate squares might satisfy that urge.