You know all those self help books which say that happiness comes from within? Well maybe that’s not completely true. Turns out, happiness at the workplace is not only dependent on your tasks, position in your company and working relationships; but also on your work environment.
Are you tired of your cramped/dingy/smelly/ freezing work space? Well, maybe there’s something that you can do about it. It all comes down to Ergonomics. That’s just a big word for the study of people and their relationship with their environment at work; primarily including the facilities that people use and the tasks that they’re meant for.
Still don’t understand? Okay, let’s say I work a 9-5 desk job, sitting at a computer for a majority of the day. The ergonomic factors in my case would include the lighting in my office, the design of the chair I’m sitting in, the distance between my eyes and the computer screen, the size of the keyboard, and so on and so forth. It’s quite a simple relationship really; if I strain my eyes and back and arms while I work, my productivity, work satisfaction and physical health all suffer; but on the other hand if my eyes, back and arms are happy with their conditions; then so am I… and so is the boss.
It’s interesting, isn’t it? It seems like such an obvious connection, but I’ve spoken to some people who don’t even realise that they’re not happy with their work environment until they’re pointedly asked about it. So go ahead, ask yourself.
What’s your work environment like? Remember to also keep in mind noise levels, ventilation, interior design… apparently even the colour of the walls makes a difference! After you’ve thought about it, think of ways you can improve upon your work environment. Maybe brighten up your dull cubicle with personal items like picture frames and posters, maybe get yourself one of those cute little mini fans or a desk lamp – I have one with Spongebob Squarepants animations on it. Studies have shown that a neutral colour in the office (meaning walls, ceiling, floors and furniture) leads to less distraction, even distribution of lighting and thus greater productivity. Who knew, huh? Of course, make sure that the lighting in your office and the eye-monitor distance doesn’t cause a strain to your eyes. The recommended distance between monitor and eye is 20-30 inches, depending on the size of the monitor. Also try to keep the lighting more uniform and glare-free, rather than localised to particular areas. This also means that the various light sources should ideally provide an even illumination. Or perhaps you just need to find yourself a better chair, one which is level with the monitor?
If it’s a problem too big to fix by such measures, talk to the guys in charge. Maybe get some other people who feel the same way to give you strength in numbers. Convince them of the importance of ergonomics at the work place.
If there’s something that can be done to increase happiness AND productivity AAAAND improve physical health; then it’s definitely worth giving it a shot, wouldn’t you say?