There have been many debates about creating a perfect work environment in offices for employees, but now that most of us have been working from home since the onset of the pandemic, shouldn’t we be discussing our remote workspace environments? Science says that we are constantly surrounded by subtle stressors that contribute to the overall stress levels and diminish your job enjoyment, health, and productivity. Here are the most common stressors that we are exposed to in our remote working environments:
Did you know that constant exposure to loud noises such as railway engines, aircrafts, the din of the evening traffic or perhaps that of a construction site nearby, can lead to high blood pressure? Not to mention, when you are working from home, annoying sounds such as that of honking cars, the whir of your neighbor’s lawn mower, or even loud music coming from the condo above you, can wreak havoc on your concentration, and limit your ability to obtain deep focus at work. If you’re surrounded by noise pollution at home, try muting jarring news events, soundproofing outside racket with window treatments and insulation, and putting on a pair of headphones to keep out all external sounds.
In addition to unsolicited noises, depending on where you live, air pollutants such as toxic odors, mildew, chemical smells, or cigarette smoke can raise your stress levels and break your focus from the task at hand. Try to maintain the air quality at your home. Use dehumidifiers in humid places and humidifiers in dry areas. Abstain from smoking inside the room where you work. Spray pleasant fragrances to keep the environment revitalizing. Last but not the least, maintain a well-ventilated space, allowing as much fresh air and natural light as possible. Keep the temperature of the room just right, since a room that is too cold or too hot can impede your work focus.
A cluttered workspace translates into a chaotic life. You may not feel it at first, but clutter can contribute to elevated stress levels and divert your focus at work. Clutter keeps you from finding things you need efficiently and adds to exasperation when you are already pressed for time. Clutter keeps you bouncing from one task to the other, without any streamlined workflow. Your productivity takes a nosedive when you are working in a cluttered and messy setting. Not to mention, when you put away your laptop for the day, looking to unwind and relax, the last thing you want is a stressful visual reminder of the cleaning up that you need to do.
We all seek some visual rest after a waxing day at work. Instead of waiting for the clutter to pile sky-high before you get down to cleaning, start right now. Sort through the muddle and decide what you really need and what you don’t. donate, throw away, or destroy what you don’t need. Put away your belongings in their designated places. Nothing pleases the eye more than an uncluttered, visually appealing space. I don’t know about you, but a kitchen bar free of junk mail and dirty dishes, neatly piled and folded laundry, freshly made bed, and sparkling dishes stacked in cabinets give me a sense of relief. Order conveys a feeling of calm and stability—something that we really need in the midst of a pandemic.
Artificial lighting is actually a common environmental stressor, even though most people never realize it. Ample research proves that lack of sunlight can lead to depression and mood swings and can take your stress levels sky high. Artificial lighting such as fluorescent lights trigger the production of the cortisol stress hormone, plummeting your spirits, and making you feel edgy.
On the other hand, allowing ample natural light to flow in can turn your work area into a stress-free zone. Avoid all harsh lights and instead create a well-lit space that is brimming with sunshine. Keep blinds and shutters open to create a sunny atmosphere and remove anything that block daylight. Scrub your windows clean and make sure that your workspace is sufficiently lit. However, if your house doesn’t receive sunlight, studies show that full-spectrum lights can offer you the benefits of natural lighting and elevate your mood.
Lack Of Touch With Mother Nature
Did you know that incorporating natural life into your personal space can help you create a calm stress-free work environment? Most of us live in tiny apartments and condos, cooped up at home in the midst of a raging pandemic. However, studies show that even a nice view from your window can reduce your stress. If a room within your house or apartment enjoys a panoramic view of the wooded areas, water, or sunset, use it as your workspace.
The only way to bring outside indoors is to arrange your workstation to face the breathtaking views. Even if your apartment or house doesn’t have a view, rejuvenating paintings of nature will suffice. Open all windows to enjoy fresh air. Even small additions to your house, such as potted indoor plants, an aquarium, fresh flowers in vases, or even a tabletop waterfall that makes babbling sounds, can have surprising restorative properties.
Lack Of Ergonomic Furniture
Like many first time telecommuters, you may be facing the challenges of a less-than-ideal office setup without ergonomic chairs, workstations, computer monitors and other such tools. Looking into a laptop screen for protracted hours, sitting too long, slouching, or working with the wrong posture can put physical strain on your body that you may not notice immediately but will definitely leave you holding your neck from the pain of staring down at your laptop at the end of the day and elevate your stress levels.
Try positioning your monitor or laptop at eye level so that your neck and shoulders can rest in a neutral position, and maintain an ideal work posture, where your back should recline 15 to 20 degrees to keep your hips open. Also, invest in an ergonomic keyboard that angles out from the center, to keep your forearm and hand in a straight line.Try using a footrest ease the pressure on your thighs and promote good blood circulation.