Many of us spend quite a lot of time in our workplaces yet spend precious little time thinking about how that workspace is laid out. It's time to assess the state of your workplace and improve it.
Photo by foundphotoslj.
Why take the time to assess the current state of affairs? Because if you don't you'll end up like an old coworker of mine. I questioned once, why his desk was arranged in such a peculiar fashion. He paused, shrugged and said: "That's how it was when this office became mine." The office had become his some ten years earlier, so for a decade he had simply left the desk at an odd angle and poorly arranged for the room.
Don't simply accept that the poor arrangement of your work space is fate. Whether you're stuck working in the constraints of a corporate cubicle or you've got carte blanche to do as you wish with your home office, make the most of the space you have.
Before all else, assess your ergonomic situation. How do you feel, physically, after working in your workspace all day? Are your shoulders sore? Do your wrists ache? Although tweaking your workspace for ergonomic issues isn't glamorous it will save you from the ravages of repetitive stress injuries.
Make sure to carefully consider each component of your setup. As a personal example, no matter what I did I couldn't find a comfortable position for my mouse. I tried adjusting my arm rest, changing mice, changing the position of the chair, and so on. Finally while reading a web site about RSI injuries and the importance of keeping the angle of your arms neutral I realised that my enormous keyboard was the problem. I couldn't put my arm in a neutral position with the numerical keypad pushing the mouse so far to the right. I switched to a keyboard, a Microsoft Sidewinder, where I could place a swap keypad to the left hand side of the keyboard and I've been happy and ache free ever since. Give your own workspace that kind of detailed look over and you'll be able to banish your aches and pains too.
Once you've assessed the ergonomic situation and determined that your workstation isn't going to give you carpal tunnel or scoliosis you can begin considering other aspects of the space. How is the lighting? Is there a significant amount of glare on the monitor? Is it possible to turn off or diffuse the source of the glare? Although it might look silly, if putting a simple monitor hood eliminates glare from overhead lights you can't turn off it's well worth it.
Taking care of plants may not be high on your daily list of priorities, but having them in your workspace provides fresh air and a mood boost. We've gathered up some guides to five hard-to-kill houseplants for your home or workspace as well as three great plants for cleaning the air in your office. Don't underestimate the importance of quality air. I've worked in offices so tiny and with such poor air circulation that closing the door would cause the people inside to slowly fall asleep like deep space voyagers on a mission gone wrong.
We can't offer suggestions for every possible issue with your office, but we can offer loads of featured workspaces from the Lifehacker archives for your to browse and get ideas for solving your office problems. You'll find everything from interesting lighting to effective use of space. Check out the all of the featured workspaces here.
If you've made positive changes to your workspace, big or small, we'd love to hear about them in the comments. You're advice might make a fellow reader's office all the more bearable.