#1 Problem: Lack of Exposure to Natural Light Leads to Health Problems and Mental Issues
Solution: Install Light Boxes or Lamps that Mimic Natural LightIf you have ever worked in a windowless cubicle or a workspace that only looks out into hallways and wondered why you don’t sleep well at night (and therefore don’t perform as well during the day) you can blame it all on your circadian rhythm. Nearly every living thing on the planet operates on natural daylight. Our circadian rhythm tells humans to wake up when it’s light outside and sleep within hours after it’s dark, as well as regulating our body temperature, the release of hormones, even the rate of our metabolism. Disruption in our circadian rhythm leads to poor sleep cycles, seasonal affective disorder (known as SAD), higher rates of depression and possibly even diabetes! A 2014 study compared 27 workers who worked in offices with no windows with 22 workers who had exposure to natural light. They asked subjects to fill out questionnaires regarding their sleep patterns, quality of sleep, levels of depression, and physical activity. All of the workers who received no natural light noted that they received less sleep, felt sad more often, and got less physical activity outside of work than those who had access to natural daylight. While not every company can afford to change buildings or remodel offices, the addition of inexpensive light boxes or sun lamps which mimic natural daylight can improve the mood and physical well-being of employees by stimulating their natural circadian rhythm.
#2 Problem: Employees Suffer from Weight Gain, Job Dissatisfaction, Low Productivity
Solution: Standing or Treadmill DeskFifty years ago, or more, the old joke was that the only gain secretaries would get was the old “Secretary Spread” (referring to weight gain on the thighs and bottom from long hours of sitting) This “joke” is now applicable to almost every office worker in America, with many workers believing that they need to eat lunch at their desk, leave only for necessary restroom breaks, and work overtime to either keep their job or to maintain a good reputation. Sitting for hours at a desk often leads to weight gain, which causes numerous health issues, job burnout, depression, and does the opposite of what employers really want; increase productivity. Studies have found that adding an adjustable desk, which allows users to stand while using their computers or phones or a “treadmill” desk, which allows users to walk (very slowly, of course) while using their office equipment can lead to tremendous and positive changes. Every healthy office tip article includes adjustable or treadmill desks.
#3 Problem: Employees That are Stressed Out Cost Companies Thousands
Solution: Offer Stress Relief in Various MannersNo matter how simple someone’s job might be, you can guarantee it will have some sort of stress attached to it. Whether it’s difficult to get to work on time due to traffic, answering for your employee’s screw-ups, or trying to make daycare arrangements for a sick child, stress comes to almost all employees in one form or another. Most employers recognize that when stress hits a certain point, it means downtime for an employee, which can add up to thousands of dollars in lost productivity. Employers can help to relieve stress by implementing several methods, including:
- Creating more comfortable break rooms where employees can truly relax, not simply cafeteria-style plastic chairs.
- Discuss the benefits of employees taking lunch breaks and afternoon breaks away from their cubicle.
- Suggest that employees form walking groups or take turns fetching Starbucks orders or lunch orders by walking, rather than rely on delivery service.
- If possible, create a few “quiet rooms” for massage therapy where employees can go if they begin to feel too much stress. These rooms should have low lights and offer a feeling of privacy.
- Employers can also offer a certain of “emergency breaks” that employees can access each month. Emergency breaks of an additional 15 or 30 minutes that an employee could use to call home, pick up or drop off their child, or simply go outside for a much-needed breath of fresh air
- Company break rooms frequently offer free coffee, but they should also offer free healthy snacks to encourage better eating patterns. Munching on a fresh apple will help relieve stress far better than noshing on those jelly donuts.
- If possible, offer yoga and meditation classes, regular exercise that employees can use during their workday
- Offer discounts to local gym’s and chiropractic offices for self-care such as regular exercise, chiropractic care, massage therapy
#4 Problem: Employees Suffer from Workplace Injuries, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Solution: Provide an Ergonomic WorkspaceOSHA states that no employer MUST provide ergonomic workstations, but doing so makes sense, as in dollars and cents! State laws may vary, but regardless of what the legal issues are, the truth is that injuries from everyday office equipment, such as using computers, the computer mouse, and improper chairs or desks cost employers thousands of dollars in lost wages and higher health insurance premiums. The purpose of ergonomics is to reduce or eliminate the stress on soft tissues, such as tendons and muscles, that occur when the same motions or positions are performed day after day. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states in a 2013 survey that at least 1/3rd of all days spent away from work come from ergonomic injuries. Employers can go a long way towards reducing employee injuries by implementing the following: Ask OSHA for an ergonomic inspection of your offices. This is a free inspection and OSHA will provide recommendations
- Buy ergonomic chairs, computer desks, computer equipment, and other items as suggested by OSHA
- Don’t forget about adjustable monitor stands and the new ergonomic keyboards and wireless controllers, which greatly reduce the use of a mouse
- Employers can prevent many of these soft tissue injuries, including carpal tunnel, tendonitis, and low back pain by offering discounts or group rates for regular chiropractic care and massage therapy
#5 Problem: Employee Complaints about Working in a Box (Cubicles)
Solution: Bring the Outdoors InsideMany employees complain that cubicle life is bland, boring, and suffocating. Let’s face it, the smell of plastic, carpet, perfume, aftershave, and cleaning compounds, not to mention the fish lunch entree in the cubicle next door, permeates the air. While there isn’t much an employer can do about the mundane cubicle, there are a few steps that management can take to improve things for their employees.
- Encourage employees to personalize their offices with hobbies or reminders of things they did or would like to do, such as displaying their children’s drawings or their collection of Star Wars action figures, posters of places they want to travel to, or other items of interest
- If possible, allow well-behaved dogs to stay with employees in their cubicles
- Offer every employee a choice of plant to put in their cubicle. Also, place plants in hallways, break rooms, and conference rooms. Plants not only soothe and relax, but they have been shown in numerous studies, including one performed by NASA, to remove toxins from the air
- If your employees can work with a laptop, encourage them to do so for several hours a day in some place other than their cubicles, such as the break room, a conference room, massage therapy rooms or even an outdoor patio
- If space allows, consider allowing employees to put small aquariums in their cubicle or place a few larger ones in breakrooms
- Place tabletop Zen fountains or Feng Shui sandboxes in cubicles and/or common areas
About the Author
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using services designed to help give long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.