What Is a Workstation and How To Plan One
A workstation is a designated place for work. Your work environment has a direct impact on the quality of your labor. There are simple ways to optimize your workstation, whether you’re in an office or working remotely. Learn more about how to create the ideal workstation and maximize your productivity with The Future Party.
At the Office
There are only so many things about your environment that you can control when working at an office, so it’s important to change the things you do have control over.
Your Throne of Choice
Most of us don’t have the luxury of choosing the chairs we sit in at work, but there are a few things you can do. If you find your particular chair uncomfortable, look around the office for vacant desks that have chairs waiting for new employees.
Just switch with one of them, and now you’ve got a new chair! Remember to mess around with the chair’s settings—the height in particular. If you find your chair to be too tall and can’t be adjusted short enough, invest in a footrest or stack some reams of paper below your feet.
Lumbar support is incredibly important for your posture and overall comfort while working. If your particular chair does not have it, there are fairly inexpensive inserts that you can buy that will attach to your chair. The insert or built-in support should not protrude so much that it forces you to sit uncomfortably. All it should do is fill in the space between your lower back and chair while sitting up straight.
Armrests are a great addition to an office chair, especially if they are fully adjustable. They should be adjusted so that your arms rest at a roughly 90-degree angle while typing. If you’re really inclined not to have armrests at all, most desk chairs have removable armrests.
It’s preferable to have a chair with a headrest for periods of relaxation and times when you’re performing very repetitive tasks. Just like lumbar inserts, you can easily add a headrest. If the headrest that comes with your chair is non-adjustable, it might be a good idea to uninstall it or look for a different chair.
Simply put: Water is life. Nothing will ruin your health and focus like sugary sports drinks and sodas. Liquid sugar has never and will never do you any favors.
According to the CDC, sugary drinks are a leading cause of weight gain, type-2 diabetes, kidney diseases, heart disease, liver problems, and more. And that’s not the end of it.
It’s a great idea to invest in a quality, reusable water bottle to keep at your desk. There are tons of styles on the market, but some are better than others. Ideally, get one that is made of stainless steel or BPA-free plastic. Built-in straws are convenient, but they are very difficult to keep clean.
An open-mouth bottle is easy to clean and is typically more durable than ones with flip-up straws. Keeping a transparent bottle at your desk can serve as a visual reminder to drink more water. On the other hand, an insulated stainless steel bottle will keep your water cold.
In terms of size, it might actually be better to have a smaller bottle at your desk. If your bottle is large and lasts a long time, you will be less inclined to get up from your desk and get some water. Getting up and moving every 30 minutes or so is important.
Ergonomics and Comfort
Screen placement is very important for how your body will naturally position. If you only have one screen at your desk, it should be straight in front of you, and the top of the screen should be at eye level.
Everything on your desk that you regularly interact with should be at arm’s length. You shouldn’t have to reach for anything. The phone on your desk is probably best placed on the side of your desk near your non-dominant hand.
When you get a call and still need to type, you’re naturally going to pinch the phone between your neck and shoulder. This isn’t ergonomically ideal, but if you have to do it, at least you won’t strain your mouse arm while awkwardly shrugging your phone.
A desk pad that is large enough to accommodate your mouse and keyboard is an immediate and wonderfully tactile way to elevate your work experience. It’s frustrating using a regular-sized mouse pad. It usually feels too restrictive and slips all over your desk.
Another upgrade that is worthy of consideration is a quality keyboard. Depending on the company you work for, you may be able to request a better keyboard. If not, they can be had for a reasonable amount of money.
The keyboard is a piece of office equipment that you will be using all day, every day. A clicky mechanical keyboard is highly recommended for speedy typing.
An often overlooked and underappreciated addition to a workstation is a green plant of some kind. Not all of us are lucky enough to be assigned a desk that has a view outside or near some indoor plants. While you’re sitting in a cube underneath fluorescent lights, treat your eyes to a splash of color in the form of a plant.
Keep Snacks on Hand
Keep healthy snacks in your drawer to avoid the office vending machines with their chips and candy. Eating that stuff will be detrimental to your overall health and how you feel while working.
Have some dried fruits or nuts handy to stave off your cravings, preferably with little to no added sodium.
Working From Home
Remote work is both rewarding and challenging. It’s nice not to have to deal with a morning commute, but it’s difficult to work effectively if you don’t already have an established working space.
Many of us are working in our bedrooms or living rooms with roommates and family members around. Some of these problems have solutions, though, and working from home should be a comfortable experience.
Choosing Your Peripherals
Try this little experiment. Take everything off of your desk the night before a workday. As you start working that day, only put things back on your desk when you need to use them. By the end of the workday, you will only have what you need to get work done and no other distractions.
Thanks to the pandemic, working at home with a laptop is more common than ever. Laptops are great for mobility and convenience but are terrible when it comes to ergonomics. Because of the way the screen is attached to the keyboard, a laptop placed on a desk will naturally be at too low of an angle for comfort.
To mitigate this problem, buy an angled laptop stand. These products do more than just raise your screen to eye level; they make your typing experience far more enjoyable and reduce your odds of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
The higher angle is much easier on your wrists and will have long-term benefits. Some laptop stands can even raise your entire laptop and allow for a standing position. With all the time many of us spend at home, it’s prudent to keep track of how much we are sitting.
You probably have your phone handy at your home workstation, but this is not advised. Our phones were designed to keep our attention for as long as possible, and they are good at it. How many times have you picked up your phone to look at one notification and ended up looking at social media for a half-hour?
Try to keep your phone in another room entirely or at least on the other side of the room you work in. Keeping it at a distance out of immediate reach will allow you to concentrate and feel less tempted to pick it up.
Change of Scenery
One of the joys of working remotely is being able to change your working environment at will. Getting tired of working from your bedroom? Go to your local cafe and bring a laptop stand. Or maybe take your work to the patio for some fresh air.
It’s important to regularly experience natural light and a nice breeze for your productivity and mental health. If you can avoid working in your bedroom, do. If you consistently work where you sleep, you will start to associate your room with stimuli and stress.
Working from your bed might feel comfy, but it can have consequences in the long run. Keeping a regular schedule of waking up, showering, and getting dressed before work is vital to a productive and focused day. You will only feel more lethargic and unrested if your workstation is where you wake up every morning.
Closing Out for the Day
Building and modifying your personal workstation should be fun and rewarding. The outcome is a more focused and simplified environment that suits your specific working needs. It doesn’t matter if you’re back in the office or at the coffee shop; your workstation should work for you and not against you.