A Day in the Life of Stress: Office Environment
It’s amazing what you can get used to – your place of work may be disorganised, poorly lit and lack ventilation – and the longer you ignore these factors the more your stress levels rise.
Whether you work from home, in an office or factory, stress can bring a variety of problems. It often arises when there is conflict between the demands of the job and the level of control you have over achieving those demands. In the workplace stress is caused by many factors. Poor lighting and seating, for example, have a bigger impact on the working day than you realise.
Badly organised and dimly lit workspaces adversely affect your productivity and cause health issues such as eye strain, and back and neck problems. Among environmental factors, inadequate ventilation depletes the air of oxygen and causes headaches, tiredness and an inability to focus. Working from home sounds like a good solution, but this too has its pitfalls. Working without colleagues can be isolating and your family may provide unwanted distractions.
The Key Role of Human Resources
The Human Resources (HR) department plays a vital role in the workplace. It is a link between employer and employee, and is responsible for all the decisions and strategies relating to the management of staff. Your HR department should improve the quality of life at work by putting in place regulations, as fairly as possible, that are applicable to everyone, regardless of status.
Any company, no matter how large or small, is obliged to comply with employment law, health and safety regulations, sickness, redundancies and maternity leave. Having an impartial HR representative to listen to staff grievances and help to solve any problems, be they with other staff members or relating to their own role, benefits the business as a whole.
Reducing workplace stress
Don’t suffer in silence. Be proactive and take workplace stress into your own hands. Once you have things under control, you’ll find the nine to five to be quite pleasant.
Finding a quiet place
- Noise pollution is a common workplace stress, but it can be eased in a variety of ways. Make more use of meeting rooms, which are separate from the main working area, or ask permission to relocate yourself to quieter departments when working on something particularly complicated. If working from home, noisy neighbours can be very distracting, but try to come to some agreement. They may be unaware that you are working, so let them know.
Avoid eye strain
- Try to use full spectrum bulbs in your overhead lighting and desk lamp. Position your monitor so that light doesn’t directly hit it and attach a glare filter to decrease harsh light. If your office uses fluorescent light, suggest a change as this type of light gives a slight flicker, which is harmful to the eyes over prolonged periods of time.
- Untidiness, no matter where you work, brings chaos to the environment. This can be distracting and make it difficult to achieve your goals. Maintain your work area to a reasonable standard where possible, and try to have a basic organisational system in place to keep files and records in order. Attempt to make tidiness a joint responsibility, as a cleaner, more organised workplace will benefit all who share it.
- Improving the air quality where you work will help to reduce stress, as a good supply of oxygen keeps you alert throughout the day. If you work on lower floors, open the windows to allow in fresh air, and introduce plants if the atmosphere is too dry. The spider and peace lily plants are especially useful for this. Plants raise the amount of oxygen in the air and reduce stuffiness, while also absorbing pollutants. In addition, using an ioniser or salt lamp can cleanse the air by eliminating the positive ions created by computers, photocopiers and other electrical equipment.
Protect your back
- You may spend a lot of your day sitting at the computer. Ensuring that you chair is comfortable and suitable for its purpose is vital. If your feet are not flat on the floor, getting a foot rest will ensure proper support. And a chair that has adjustments allows you to set its height and the angle of its back so that you will maintain a correct seated posture.
- If you are working in an office environment, it may be difficult to implement these measures. Try talking to senior management or other colleagues, as they will want to help improve the working conditions for all.