In a perfect world, you would love going to work and get piles of tasks, projects, and deliverables done every day. But often a company's physical environment does little to promote health and productivity. In fact, science has a few things to say about the factors undermining employee well-being, and a few ideas on what you can do to change your workspace for the better.
1. Sitting at a desk all day is aging you.
Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have now quantified exactly how bad a sedentary lifestyle is for a person. They found that elderly women who sit for more than 10 hours a day with low physical activity have cells that are biologically older by eight years compared to women who are less sedentary.
Do this: Log at least 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. Doing so keeps the telomeres found on the ends of your DNA strands long and able to protect chromosomes from deterioration.
2. Fluorescent lights strain your brain.
According to a study (PDF) of 1,000 full-time office workers commissioned by Energy Focus and conducted by Wakefield Research, 69 percent of participants reported problems with office lights including glare, brightness, and excessive flicker. Fluorescent lights--used in an estimated 98 percent of commercial buildings--are particularly problematic because of "substropic flicker" which is invisible but causes all sorts of problems including fatigue, impaired visual task performance, distraction, headaches, and eye strain.
Try this: Lobby decision makers to consider flicker-free LED lighting, which is more energy efficient than fluorescent lights and can be installed without having to replace existing fixtures or ballasts.
3. Lackluster workplace design affects worker productivity.
In a survey of 1,000 office workers conducted by Pots, Planters and More, nearly half (45 percent) reported having little to no natural light at work. About 46 percent say their workplace design and decor lacks personality. One in three say their office environment is devoid of plants, and only one in four would be proud to show their office to family and friends.