The GSBA Blog

How to Leverage Your Workspace to Support Health & Wellness

by Nicole DeNamur (She/her), Sustainable Strategies, PLLC
| Apr 08, 2020

This unprecedented time has resulted in countless workers suddenly transitioning from a traditional office setting to working from home. As many GSBA Members already know, working from home presents a variety of challenges – some obvious, some not.  

nicole denamurWhen you worked in an office setting, you relied on facilities professionals to maintain that space and ensure that all building systems were running correctly. Now that you are spending more time in your work-from-home space, it makes sense for you to put extra focus, attention and resources into improving the quality of your space.  

To help your space work for you, consider implementing the following strategies: 

Indoor air quality – The air we breathe has a direct impact on our health and wellness – both positive and negative. Studies have shown that reducing common indoor pollutants, such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), can improve cognitive function. Generally speaking, a good place to start is by opening accessible windows and utilizing fans, including bathroom exhaust fans, to temporarily flush and dilute indoor air.  

Manage potential dust sources – If needed, clean your vacuum’s filter and consider vacuuming often-overlooked spaces, including under the fridge, mattresses and exposed vents. Reducing clutter will make it easier to spot and clean dusty surfaces, and can also help reduce anxiety. If you have pets, consider establishing a regular schedule for washing their bedding.

Household cleaning items – Think beyond your physical space to the products you bring into your space, including cleaning products and anything with a fragrance.  Common cleaning and other household products can contain VOCs, harsh chemicals and other irritants. Take the time to review these products, research their main ingredients, and consider “cleaner" alternatives for later purchase. 

Other high-touch surfaces – The importance of cleaning high-touch surfaces with appropriate disinfectants is at the top of everyone’s mind. In addition to the commonly referenced surfaces, consider other high-touch surfaces: toilet flush mechanisms, fridge and freezer handles, handles of water filtration pitchers, faucet and dishwasher door handles and remote controls.

Increase natural light – There are numerous benefits of increased access to natural light, including improved mood and increased productivity. If possible, open curtains or blinds, and adjust your workspace so you have access to natural light or a view of the outdoors.  Be mindful of glare and adjust as needed to manage it.

Electronics – Electronics, batteries, compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and related products can contain toxic components.  Particularly as they age or if they break, they need to be disposed of properly. Take this time to gather unused electronics, including computers, phones and music players. Research how to properly dispose of, e-cycle or donate them in your area and set a calendar reminder to do so when safe. King County’s Solid Waste Division has a helpful “What do I do with…?” resource that enables you to search by keyword or category. 

Include biophilic design – Biophilic design incorporates strategies that reconnect us with the natural world. In addition to increasing access to natural light and views of the outdoors, incorporating other natural elements into your workspace can help reduce anxiety. Add a potted plant to your desk or move existing plants to within view of your workstation.

Digital wellbeing – Like most of us, you are likely spending more time on your devices, both because your regular work schedule and dynamic is interrupted and as a way to access information related to the pandemic. Digital wellbeing is an emerging field, and Google has produced some helpful resources on the intersection of technology with wellness. This website provides users with the opportunity to “develop their own sense of digital wellbeing.”  

Ergonomics – Many of us are now taking a significant number of calls on our cell phones. If available, utilize a hands-free support device to help reduce neck strain.  Additionally, EWI Works has produced free resources, including an app, that walk users through a preliminary ergonomics assessment of their new workstation.  

If you have questions or need help, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Sustainable Strategies, PLLC.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not legal, medical or any other type of advice.