Ten Tips to a Healthy Office

Fresh from The Times’ Body & Soul segment, the following ten tips will help you get the most out of your work day.

1. Avoid office affairs
2. Go home earlier
3. Use the stairs
4. Move the computer screen
5. Buy some potted plants
6. Ration e-mail
7. Let it all hang out
8. Decorate the office nicely
9. Choose your desk wisely
10. Consider going solo and out on your own

Here’s The Glass Hammer take on this advice:

While all of these tips are purportedly based on university research studies, there seems to be less input from The College of Rocket Science and more from the School of Common Sense. Still, easier said than done.

No need to be the office Brangelina. What’s more fun to gossip about than a secret office affair? Unless everyone is talking about you, that is. Although many people meet their significant others at work, office romance is only fine as long as the relationship is going well. It gets toxic when the fire fades. Iowa University researchers say that 62% of married men and 46% of married women having an affair met their lover through work. Whatever happened to concentrating on the day job?

Go home earlier? I live here! While you might be laughing right now at the idea of getting out of work early, studies show it’s good for your health (though you probably don’t need an M.D. to figure that out!) This time it’s the University of California, claiming a link between hours worked and higher blood pressure. I’d like to see research into the link between salary increases and higher blood pressure, personally.

Avoid the elevator. Take the stairs (though not in stilettos, if you can help it). Using the stairs rather than using the elevator lowers cholesterol, improves breathing, heart function and weight control.

Move the computer screen. A Norwegian study demonstrated that when your screen is even 15 degrees out of alignment, it may cause neck pain, stiff backs and more sick days. Apparently, the top of your screen has to be at eye level. Nobody wants to be the nerd hunched over a computer anyways.

Get green in your life. Plants make an office a healthier place to be, if you don’t manage to kill them first! The National Institute of Occupational Health in Oslo found that 23% fewer nose, throat and dry skin problems occur in green offices. So bring in that fern, cactus or Venus flytrap – or ask your employers to green up the workspace for your improved health and productivity. If you don’t get out much, this can have the added benefit of simulating time in the great outdoors.

Ration e-mails. This is a tough one. As a complete e-mail junkie, I feel like an amputee when I’m out of range. But some people check for emails 40 times a minute (is that even possible?!) according to researchers at Paisley University in Scotland. And we girls are under more pressure to reply instantly. So pry yourself off of your IM and Blackberry and check your emails twice a day, if you can get away with it.

Let it all hang out. Surprise! Bottling up the feelings until your head is about to spin around and pop off, Exorcist-style, can lead to depression and heart disease in the long run. The cheerily named Journal of Stress and Health claimed in 2003 that keeping an ’emotion diary’ and expressing your feelings results in overall better health. While I don’t really know any women in finance who have time to keep an emotion diary, let express feelings in a testosterone-fueled environment, its probably a good idea to get a handle on your stress and emotions. Let’s all hold hands and say “Ommmm.”

Decorate your office. More of the greenery story – a study from University of Texas claims that white or blue/green offices achieve “higher perceived job performance and satisfaction and better mood than those in a red office.” No mention of yellow offices, sadly. Or that gorgeous palette of institutional grey-beige that so many chic work habitats seem to sport.

Choose your desk. Actually, they mean choose the position of your desk, rather than opting for a leather-topped mahogany number over the self-assembled Ikea desk you have to prop up on Post-Its. Windows are Good. Printers are Bad for Your Lungs (all that toner). Natural Light Best; poor artificial light Worst. Talk about stating the obvious.

Consider going it alone. The self-employed report a higher level of job satisfaction and less stress. Nobody’s worked out a sure-fire plan for how you can go it alone and earn a decent enough salary to pay for your life, but stories of super-successful entrepreneurial women give us hope.

Sorry, can’t write more, gotta dump the office lover, catapult up the stairs to adjust my screen angle, switch off IM and ignore my e-mails, water my plant, feng-shui the desk, and spray paint my office a cathartic shade of blue. As if I didn’t have enough to do…

0 Response

  1. sue

    Great ideas here for making the office healthier. I also stumbled onto something that makes me healthier in my home office. It is a treadmill desk. I walk all day at work and no I do not sweat! I do burn about 900-1200 calories a day though and it keeps me from every feeling sleeply. I made my own but have found a product called TrekDesk which seems to be the most affordable option out there. You can read about it at