Mike Harley

President at Office Chairs Unlimited – I have been in the furniture industry for over 20 years, and I'm an expert (just ask me) on all things furniture. I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.

Jun 182020
 

Back pain isn’t exclusive to blue-collar workers with physically laborious jobs. White-collar workers can suffer from it as well. In fact, research shows about one-third of all office workers will experience back pain in a 12-month period.

If you work in an office, you’ll probably spend a large portion of your time sitting, which can take a toll on your spinal column and its supporting tissues. Many people assume that sitting is good for their back, but this isn’t necessarily true. Sitting, especially for long periods, is actually bad for your back because it compresses your spinal column. When you sit for long periods, your spinal column will essentially remain in a “squished” state where its intervertebral discs are all packed tightly together, resulting in back pain. You can prevent back pain when working in an office, however, by taking a few precautions.

Evaluate the Ergonomics of Your Office Chair

Evaluate the Ergonomics of Your Office ChairTo prevent back pain, you must use a high-quality and ergonomic office chair. According to a survey conducted by Fellowes, the average office worker sits for four to nine hours each day. Over the course of a year, that translates into 67 days of sitting. If your office chair isn’t ergonomically designed, all that sitting can contribute to back pain.

How do you know if your office chair is ergonomically designed? Ergonomics refers to a product or place that’s designed to meet the needs of a human worker. Regarding office chairs, ergonomic features include a lower cushion for lumbar support, an adjustable height, a five-point rolling caster system, and a supportive bottom. If your office chair lacks these features, or if your office chair causes back pain or discomfort, you may want to replace it.

Use Your Office Chair’s Armrests

Proper arm angle when sitting

Assuming your office chair has armrests – which it should – using them will help stabilize your spine so that it’s less susceptible to pain and injury. Armrests do more than just support your arms and elbows; they support your spinal column as well. You can see for yourself by propping your arms on the armrests, followed by lowering the armrests. Upon lowering the armrests, your shoulders will immediately drop. And as your shoulders drop, your spinal column will compress.

Studies show that using an office chair’s armrests can reduce the amount of weight placed on the worker’s spinal column by up to 10%. Unfortunately, not all office workers use them. Neglecting to use your office chair’s armrests will only increase the amount of weight placed on your spinal column, which may cause or contribute to back pain.

With that said, you may need to adjust your office chair’s armrests for proper ergonomics. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the following problems can arise with improperly adjusted armrests:

  • If the armrests are too low, you may inadvertently lean your body to the side while subsequently straining your neck and spinal column.
  • If the armrests are too high, your shoulders will remain high, where they promote stress and tension in your neck.
  • If the armrests are too wide, you’ll have to extend your arms farther in front of your body to grab objects, which can cause muscle fatigue in your neck and back.
  • If the armrests are too close to your body, you may struggle to get in and out of your office chair.
  • If the armrests are too big, your office chair may not fit under your desk. Alternatively, oversized armrests may interfere with your ability to type using a keyboard.

Wear the Right Shoes

The shoes you wear to the office can affect your susceptibility to back pain. Most companies have dress codes requiring their workers to wear a specific type of attire, such as a formal suit or business casual outfit. As a result, many office workers neglect to choose comfortable and supportive shoes. Instead, they choose footwear based entirely on whether it complies with their company’s dress code.

You should still comply with your company’s dress code, but it’s important to choose comfortable and supportive shoes. Shoes help to support your feet and stabilize your spinal column. With each stride you take, your shoes will absorb some of the impact. If your shoes are poorly designed, degraded, or if they don’t fit, they won’t be able to perform this task.

So, what type of shoes you wear to the office? If you’re a woman, consider wearing formal or semi-formal flats rather than high heels. According to The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), 71% of women who wear high heels experience foot pain. If you’re a man, you’ll have a little more freedom regarding your footwear. Oxfords, derbies, loafers, and even dress boots are all great choices. Just remember to choose shoes in the right size for your feet. Otherwise, they may cause discomfort that manifests in the form of both foot pain and back pain.

Stand Up and Walk Around

Stand Up and Walk Around to stretch your muscles and relieve back pain

Refrain from sitting all day! Even if you use a high-quality and ergonomic office chair, you should get into the habit of standing up and walking around periodically to lower your risk of back pain. Far too many office workers rarely or never stand after sitting down at their cubicle or workstation. They only stand when it’s break time or at the end of the workday.

By standing and walking around, however, you’ll reduce the amount of pressure on your spine, which may lower your risk of developing back pain. Sitting compresses the spinal column about three times more than standing. Therefore, extended periods of sitting forces your spine into a highly compressed state where it’s more susceptible to injury.

If you’re worried about back pain, try to stand and walk around for at least five minutes every half-hour. Even if it’s nothing more than a short walk around your office, this gives you an opportunity to alleviate the pressure on your spinal column. You can then return to your cubicle or workstation feeling rejuvenated and ready to tackle the workday.

Perform Stretching Exercises

Perform Stretching Exercises at your desk to relieve back pain and muscle tensionThere are stretching exercises you can perform while working to promote a healthy spinal column. The “big hug” stretch, for instance, will stretch both your shoulders and back. Best of all, you can perform it while sitting at your cubicle or workstation.

As the name suggests, the “big hug” stretch involves hugging your body with your arms. While sitting, place your left hand over your right shoulder and your right hand over your left shoulder. Next, inhale and exhale slowly while maintaining this position. Rinse and repeat for three to five minutes, at which point you can return to your work activities.

Another type of stretching exercise that you can perform while sitting involves leaning back in your office chair with your arms behind your head. Start by placing both hands on the back of your head with your fingers interlocked together. Next, gradually lean your upper body backward in your office chair so that you essentially look up towards the ceiling. Hold this position for about 10 seconds, after which you can release your hands.

Avoid Using Your Smartphone

Avoid Using Your SmartphoneUnless it’s absolutely necessary to perform your job, you should avoid using your smartphone while working at your cubicle or workstation. It’s a little-known fact that excessive smartphone usage can contribute to back pain. How exactly does using your smartphone lead to back pain?

Unlike traditional office phones, smartphones have a digital display. When you get a call or text message, you’ll probably look down at your smartphone’s display to see who’s calling or messaging you. Each time you look at your smartphone’s display, though, you’ll inadvertently bend your neck at an unnatural and awkward angle.

Excessive smartphone usage is a leading risk factor for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) like back pain. There’s even an unofficial term used to describe MSDs attributed to smartphone usage: text neck. Also referred to as turtle neck posture – a reference to the way in which it affects the curvature of your neck – it occurs when a worker constantly looks down at his or her smartphone. While occasionally glancing at your smartphone probably won’t have any ill effect on your neck or back, frequent or prolonged viewing of your smartphone’s display can lead to MSDs.

Be Conscious of Your Posture

Be Conscious of Your Posture

Umm… not good posture

You should be conscious of your posture at all times when working in an office. If you’re guilty of carrying yourself in a way that promotes poor posture, you may experience back pain.

Posture refers to the way in which we carry ourselves. Poor posture simply means that you walk, stand, sit, or otherwise carry yourself in a way that’s unnatural for your body, resulting in greater stress and tension. Good posture, on the other hand, means you carry yourself in a way that’s natural for your body. With good posture, you’ll experience less stress and tension in your neck and back.

When sitting, good posture involves placing both feet on the floor shoulder-width apart in front of your body. As previously mentioned, you should also use your office chair’s armrests to further alleviate stress on your neck and back. When standing, good posture involves maintaining an upright and vertical position without bending your neck or spine. Being conscious of your posture allows you to make the necessary changes to minimize your risk of MSDs, including neck and back pain. Whether you are sitting, standing, or walking, you should try to carry yourself in a way that’s natural for your body.

With good posture, you’ll reap the following benefits:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Less severe and less frequent back pain
  • Increased energy
  • Fewer and less frequent headaches
  • Improved digestion
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Lower risk of MSDs and other work-related injuries

Got Back Pain? – Get a Massage!

Get a massageTreating yourself to a massage can help eliminate work-related back pain. A study published in the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that massage therapy was effective for treating back pain. Other studies have reinforced these findings, indicating that massage therapy can help alleviate back pain.

Although there are dozens of different types of massage therapy, each of which involving a different technique, they all involve the manipulation of soft tissues like muscles, tendons, and ligaments — all of which are used to support the spine. If you experience back pain after a long day of working in the office, a professional massage therapist may be able to “work” these soft tissues. Massage therapy will eliminate knots in soft tissues while also stimulating blood flow to them. The end result is faster recovery times from otherwise painful back injuries.

Lift Items With Your Legs

If you happen to drop something on the floor while working in the office, use your legs to lift it. Most people lift items by bending over, and by doing so, they stress their spinal column. Bending over may sound like the easiest way to lift an item off the floor, but it’s particularly taxing on your back.

The correct way to lift an item off the floor is to use your legs. Rather than bending your back, bend your knees to lower your body to the floor while maintaining your spine’s natural alignment. After grabbing the item, you can then extend your knees to raise your body back to a standing position. Using this method to lift items ensures that your spinal column remains straight and aligned.

Exercise Outside of the Office

Increasingly your levels of physical activity outside of the office can help protect against back pain. It’s estimated that fewer than one in four Americans spend a sufficient amount of time exercising. If you’re among this crowd, you’ll have a greater risk of developing back pain.

Back pain is often the result of the spinal column’s supporting soft tissues being overworked. By exercising, you can strengthen the muscles surrounding your spinal column. Performing core-building exercises, such as crunches and planks, can prove useful in protecting against back pain. As you build your core muscles, it will take some of the burden off your spinal column.

Jan 312020
 

When working in an office, you should focus on maximizing your productivity. Just because you work for eight hours a day doesn’t necessarily mean that you are productive for all eight hours. According to research cited by Inc.com, the average office worker is only productive for about three hours a day. Statistics such as this disheartening, but you can improve your productivity in the office by avoiding the 12 following bad habits.

#1) Personal Calls and Text Messages

Unless it’s an emergency, you shouldn’t make or receive personal calls and text messages. Each minute you spend on a personal call or text message is a minute of lost productivity. A survey conducted by the office staffing agency OfficeTeam found that office workers spend an average of 56 minutes on personal calls and text messages per day.

You can still use your phone for work-related calls and texts. For personal communications, though, you should wait until you are off the clock so that it doesn’t negatively impact your productivity. Besides, most employers prohibit workers from using their phones for personal calls and texts while they are on the clock.

#2) Multitasking

What’s wrong with multitasking? Performing two or more tasks simultaneously may sound like an effective way to boost your productivity in the office, but it will likely have the opposite effect. The human brain is hardwired to focus on a single task at any given time. When confronted with multiple tasks, it’s unable to process them, resulting in a dramatic decrease in productivity.

According to a study published by the American Psychological Association (APA), workers who multitask are about 40% less productive than their counterparts who don’t multitask. Other studies have linked multitasking to a lower IQ, which can also prove detrimental to your productivity. Therefore, you should focus on a single task, and after completing it, move on to the next task.

#3) Checking Email Too Much

Don't check email too much while at the officeEmail offers a fast and convenient way to communicate with your colleagues and coworkers. It only takes a few minutes to compose and send an email, whereas direct mail can take several days to reach the recipient. With that said, you should limit the number of times that you check your inbox.

Like the other bad habits listed here, checking your email too much can kill your productivity in the office. Research shows that the average office worker checks his or her inbox 15 times per day. Assuming it takes you just three minutes to read all your messages, checking your email will consume about 45 minutes of your workday. So, how often should you check your email? It depends on the degree to which you use email for work, but a good rule of thumb is to check your inbox no more than once an hour.

#4) Attending Unnecessary Meetings

Assuming you work for a large company, you’ll probably spend at least some time attending meetings. Unless your attendance is absolutely needed or required, however, you should skip the meeting.

Unnecessary meetings rank as one of the top sources of lost productivity in the office. According to The Muse, middle-level executives spend over one-third of their total working hours in meetings, whereas upper-level executives, including CEOs and CFOs, spend up to half of their total working hours in meetings. Regardless of your job position, attending unnecessary meetings is a waste of time that will ultimately kill your productivity. Furthermore, many companies record their meetings, meaning you can watch a video snapshot to gain a better understanding of the topics covered during the meeting.

#5) Not Taking Breaks

Don’t forget to take regular breaks when working in an office. Contrary to popular belief, working nonstop isn’t a recipe for success. No matter how much coffee you consume, you’ll eventually become mentally and physically fatigued, which will manifest in the form of lower productivity. It’s an all-too-common occurrence that kills productivity in the office.

According to a survey cited by Forbes, nine in 10 U.S. workers feel more refreshed after taking breaks. Breaks offer an opportunity for your mind to reset. After taking a short break, you can return to your desk, feeling more refreshed.

#6) Taking Excessively Long Breaks

Don't take excessively long breaks at the officeWhile taking breaks is essential, especially when working eight or more hours a day, you shouldn’t spend too much time in the breakroom. Taking excessively long breaks is just as bad – if not worse – as not taking any breaks. If you take three 30-minute breaks per day, you’ll spend an hour and a half in the breakroom each day. Some workers spend even more time in the breakroom, thus killing their productivity.

So, how long should your breaks be? For most offices, 10 to 15 minutes is the sweet spot. At this length, you’ll feel mentally and physically refreshed without wasting a significant amount of time. Of course, you should follow your employer’s guidelines regarding break frequency and duration. If your employer only allows five-minute breaks, you shouldn’t spend more than five minutes in the breakroom.

#7) Stressing Over Small Things

To stay productive, you must learn to manage your stress levelsTry not to stress over the small things. Stress can and will affect your productivity in the office. Research shows that lost productivity is the most commonly reported symptom of work-related stress, with 41% of workers saying they are less productive when stressed.

As your stress levels rise, you’ll feel mentally overwhelmed and exhausted. Stress won’t necessarily impact your physical health, but its mental effects can hinder your productivity nonetheless. To stay productive, you must learn to manage your stress levels. Allowing otherwise small things to instill stress will only kill your productivity in the office.

Here are some tips to lower work-related stress when working in an office:

  • If you feel stressed, take slow and deep breaths to instantly relax your body and mind.
  • Foster positive professional relationships with your colleagues and coworkers.
  • Personalize your desk with personal photos and artwork.
  • Eliminate clutter and organize your desk.
  • If your desk is near a window, open the blinds to let in sunlight.
  • Get at least seven hours of high-quality sleep each night before working.
  • Set daily goals and track your progress towards achieving those goals.
  • Don’t smoke. Aside from increasing your risk of COPD, lung cancer, heart disease, and other serious medical ailments, cigarettes will increase your stress levels.

#8) Not Using a To-Do List

A to-do list offers a clear and concise roadmap for your workday.If you aren’t using a to-do list, you are missing out on one of the most effective ways to maximize productivity when working in an office. A to-do list offers a clear and concise roadmap for your workday. When you enter the office at the beginning of a workday, you can reference this list to determine which tasks you need to complete.

Consider using the Ivy Lee method when creating, as well as using, a to-do list. Pioneered by American publicity expert Ivy Ledbetter Lee over a century ago, it’s more relevant than ever in today’s modern workplace. With the Ivy Lee method, you create a list of your six more important tasks for the following workday, prioritized according to importance. You can then focus on one task at a time, starting with the most important task at the top of your to-do list.

The Ivy Lee method is both simple and effective at maximizing productivity. It reveals your six most important tasks of the day, thereby keeping you focused and on track. You can experiment with other types of to-do lists, but most office workers and professionals will agree that none compare to the Ivy Lee method.

#9) Skipping Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Don't skip it!There’s a reason it’s called the most important meal of the day: Breakfast provides your body with the calories and nutrients it needs to function properly. It’s estimated, however, that about one in four workers skip breakfast. If this sounds familiar, you should make the necessary changes to your daily routine so that you have time to eat breakfast each morning.

Skipping breakfast may give you a few extra minutes in the morning, but it can kill your productivity. Our brains are powered by glucose. When you consume calories – whether from protein, fat, or carbohydrates – your body will typically convert them into ready-to-use energy known as glucose. If your brain doesn’t get enough glucose, it will slow down. You’ll experience other symptoms as well, including hunger cravings. Because our brains use glucose for energy, though, skipping breakfast can cause a sudden decrease in productivity.

There are ways to prepare a nutritious breakfast in as little as 10 minutes. You can cook scrambled eggs, for example, in the microwave. Just crack a few eggs in a medium-sized bowl, place the bowl in the microwave and set the timer for two minutes. Along with some fresh fruit and toast, microwaved scrambled eggs will provide your brain with the glucose it needs to stay productive.

#10) Neglecting to Upgrade Office Equipment

Another bad habit that can kill your productivity is neglecting to upgrade your office equipment. Whether you work in a large corporate office or a small home office, you’ll eventually need to replace your equipment. No piece of office equipment lasts forever. Over time, your office equipment will degrade to the point where it no longer functions as intended.

If your office chair has a broken caster on the bottom, it probably won’t roll smoothly. If your desk has a finicky cabinet or drawer, you may struggle to open it. These are all things that can kill your productivity. With a broken caster, you’ll have to use greater force to move your office chair around your workstation. With a broken cabinet or drawer, you’ll spend more time adding and retrieving files from the respective cabinet or drawer.

The good news is that you can maintain a high level of productivity by upgrading your office equipment. If your chair, desk, file cabinet, or any other piece of equipment has reached the end of its usable life, replace it. Upgrading your office equipment is a smart investment that will help to maximize your productivity.

#11) Sitting All Day

Sitting in the same area for an extended period promotes muscle tensionEven if you work in front of a computer – as most office workers do – you should get into the habit of standing up and walking around on a regular basis. Sitting in the same area for an extended period promotes muscle tension. While sitting, your muscles will become tense, and because of their chronically constricted state, you’ll feel more fatigued.

By standing up and walking around, you’ll become more productive. It allows you the opportunity to stretch your legs and, most importantly, relax your muscles. Therefore, you should make a point to stand and walk around at least once every half-hour while working at the office.

Another way to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting is to invest in a sit-stand hybrid desk. Hybrid sit-stand desks, as their name suggests, are designed for use when sitting or standing. According to a study conducted by researchers at Texas A&M, workers who use a sit-stand hybrid desk are 46% more productive than their counterparts who use a traditional desk.

#12) Overplanning

Overplanning is a bad habit that can kill your productivity in the officeFinally, overplanning is a bad habit that can kill your productivity in the office. There’s nothing wrong with planning for a particular task in advance. On the contrary, it can help you prepare for the task, allowing you to complete it more efficiently. But overplanning can have the opposite effect by overwhelming with your brain with too much information while hurting your productivity levels in the process.

Overplanning is often associated with analysis by paralysis. It forces you to consume an excessive amount of information about a task, so much that you become mentally paralyzed. Furthermore, the time you spend overplanning could be used for other, more productive work-related tasks. You can still plan ahead, but avoid spending too much time or energy planning any specific task.

Don’t let these bad habits hinder your ability to work in an efficient manner. Whether you’re guilty of making personal calls and text messages, multitasking, attending unnecessary meetings, not taking breaks, or any other bad habit listed here, it will likely hurt your productivity.

Nov 142019
 

Is your office workstation interfering with your productivity? Whether you work in a commercial office or a home office, you’ll probably spend most of your time at your workstation. If it’s not properly set up, it could hinder your ability to work while also contributing to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). You can avoid these problems, however, by following these 12 tips when setting up your workstation.

#1) Choose an Ergonomic Keyboard and Mouse

Choose an ergonomic keyboard and mouseDon’t assume that all computer keyboards and mouses are made equal. Generic models generally lack both the features and ergonomic design of their premium counterparts. If you’re still using a generic keyboard and mouse, consider upgrading to a premium keyboard and mouse with an ergonomic design.

An ergonomic keyboard has a curved design in which the rows of keys are slightly angled rather than horizontal, whereas an ergonomic mouse is slightly raised so that you can hold and use it naturally. Ergonomic computer peripherals such as these reduce stress on your wrists to protect against carpal tunnel syndrome and related repetitive stress injuries.

#2) Place Keyboard and Mouse on Slide-Out Tray

If your desk has a slide-out tray, you should use this surface for your computer keyboard and mouse. Placing your keyboard and mouse directly on your desk won’t necessarily hurt your wrists, nor will it contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome, but it may cause eyestrain.

For optimal and strain-free viewing, your eyes should be roughly parallel to the top of your computer monitor. When your keyboard and mouse are placed directly on your desk, you’ll probably have to look down at your monitor, which may lead to eyestrain. A slide-out tray allows you to maintain an appropriate height at your workstation in which your eyes are parallel to the uppermost edge of your computer monitor.

#3) Upgrade Your Office Chair

Upgrade your office chairAccording to a study conducted by researchers at Cornell University, roughly half of all workers suffer from back pain. Not surprisingly, rates of back pain are higher among office workers than workers in other industries or sectors. When you sit in place for up to eight hours a day, you may develop back pain. This is because sitting increases pressure on your intervertebral discs 300% more than that of standing.

To create an ergonomic workstation that promotes productivity and discourages back pain, you must invest in a high-quality office chair.

Here are a few tips to follow when upgrading your office chair:

  • Consider the fabric and whether it’s able to withstand heavy use.
  • Make sure the office chair has adequate lumbar support for your lower back.
  • Choose an office chair with armrests that can be raised or lowered.
  • A high-quality office chair should also feature an adjustable height.
  • Choose an office chair with rolling wheels, known as casters.
  • For maximum comfort, choose an office chair with a reclining backrest.
  • Check the manufacturer’s warranty before purchasing.
  • Avoid purchasing a used or secondhand office chair and, instead, stick with a new model.

#4) Use a Chair Mat for Carpeted Floors

If your office workstation has carpeted floors, consider using a chair mat. Why do you need a chair mat for carpeted floors exactly? Well, it’s difficult to roll an office chair across carpet. Depending on the thickness of the carpet, you may be forced to physically lift and move your office chair. A chair mat solves this problem by creating a smooth and flat surface on which you can roll your office chair.

Chair mats feature a heavy-duty plastic construction, with one side of the mat consisting of a smooth and flat surface, and the other side consisting of spikes. To use a chair mat, place the spiked side down into your carpet so that the smooth and flat smooth is visible on top. You can then place your office chair directly on the mat’s smooth and flat surface, allowing you to move around your workstation with greater ease.

#5) Install a Document Holder

A document holder is an invaluable tool for a productive office workstation. As the name suggests, it’s designed to hold one or more documents. Without a document holder, you’ll have to lay documents flat on your desk. Of course, it’s difficult to view documents for long periods of time in this position. Using a document holder, though, you can place documents next to your computer monitor, allowing you to read them more quickly and with greater ease.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), document holders can “reduce or eliminate” MSD risk factors like fatigue, eyestrain, and awkward postures. Considering that document holders are available for as little as $10, most office workers will agree that it’s a smart investment. Granted, you won’t be able to write on a document holder, but you will be able to comfortably read documents using this innovative office accessory. As a result, a document holder can increase the speed at which you read paper documents.

#6) Personalize Your Workstation With Decorations

personalize your workstationPersonalizing your office workstation with decorations does more than just improve its aesthetics. Research cited by Psychology Today found that workers are more productive in personalized workstations than generic, non-personalized workstations. It’s unknown exactly how or why personalized workstations promote productivity, but the evidence is clear: Workers tend to produce more work in less time if personalized environments that are unique to their respective personal identity.

Here are some different ways to personalize your office workstation:

  • Add framed photos of family members.
  • Create and display your own artwork.
  • Display collectibles of personal interest.
  • Integrate one or more small potted plants into the décor.
  • Show off your favorite coffee mug.
  • If you have personalized business cards, display them on your desk.
  • Display your work-related goals and objectives.
  • Create a to-do list.
  • Add color to your workstation.

#7) Increase Lighting

Increase LightingThe amount of lighting in your workstation can affect your productivity. If your workstation is poorly lit, you may struggle to read text on your computer monitor as well as text on paper documents. Studies have even shown a direct correlation between workplace lighting and productivity and well-being. Therefore, you must ensure your office workstation has adequate lighting.

Overhead lighting alone isn’t always enough to fully illuminate an office workstation. It can certainly help, but in many cases, you’ll need a supplemental source of lighting. Task lighting is particularly effective for office workstations because of its ability to provide direct, controlled lighting. By definition, the term “task lighting” refers to any lamp or light fixture that provides illumination for a specific task. In offices, task lighting generally consists of adjustable table lamps. If you’re writing a document, you can adjust the lamp so that it shines directly on your desk where you are writing.

#8) Place Telephone Within Arm’s Reach

If you regularly use a telephone – not your smartphone – in your line of work, place it within arm’s reach at your office workstation. If you’re forced to roll to the opposite end of your workstation to access the telephone, you’ll waste a substantial amount of time that could be used for other, more productive tasks. For an ideal office workstation, the telephone should be within arm’s reach, meaning you can grab it without moving your chair or body. By keeping the telephone close by, you’ll be able to answer and place calls more quickly.

#9) Adjust Chair Height

Regardless of which office chair you use, you’ll need to adjust the height to achieve a comfortable and ergonomic sitting position. If your chair is too low, it will stress your knees and thighs. If it’s too high, it will stress your spine. So, how high should you adjust your office chair for maximum comfort?

A good rule of thumb is to raise or lower your office chair until your thighs are parallel with the floor and your legs are perpendicular to the floor. In other words, your thighs and legs should create a 90-degree angle when you are sitting. Assuming your office chair features an adjustable height, you should be able to raise or lower it accordingly. Some office chairs have a lever that, when engaged, will raise or lower the chair. If you’re sitting in the chair and engage the lever, it will lower. If you’re not sitting in the chair and engage the lever, it will raise. Known as the actuator lever, it’s almost always found underneath the seat on the right side.

#10) Place Monitor Directly in Front

ergonomic workstationDon’t overlook the importance of proper monitor placement at your office workstation. If you’re only using a single computer monitor, you should place it directly in front of your body. As previously mentioned, your eyes should be parallel to the top of your monitor. However, this is only useful if your monitor is directly in front of your body. If your monitor is to the left or right, you’ll have to turn your neck to view it. And if you work in front of a computer for multiple consecutive hours a day, this could lead to neck pain. Placing your monitor directly in front of your body allows for a natural and relaxed viewing experience that doesn’t strain your neck.

Not all office workers use a single computer monitor, though. In recent years, many office workers have upgraded their workstation to include two monitors. According to Business.com, workers are roughly 20% to 30% more productive when using two monitors rather than just one. If you currently use two monitors, or if you’re planning to use two monitors in the near future, position them in front of your body an angle. Both monitors should be angled inwards at the center. When looking forward, you should see the sides of both monitors. With this format, you’ll only have to turn your head slightly to view the monitors.

#11) Run Cables Through Desk Grommets

Is your office workstation cluttered with cables? While the advent of Wi-Fi has led to fewer cables in the modern office, most workstations still have about a half-dozen cables. All of these cables can create a chaotic and cluttered environment that consumes valuable space at your workstation.

The good news is that most office desks now feature pre-cut holes and passages through which you can run cables. Known as grommets, they offer an effective and discreet solution for excessive cables. Rather than running cables across the top of your desk, for example, you can run them through a grommet. The grommet is simply a piece of material that’s affixed to an opening in a desk.

Desk grommets are available in several styles. Some have a U-shaped opening, whereas others have a circular-shaped opening. The material in which grommets are made also varies. You’ll find grommets made of wood, plastic, and even metal. Feel free to experiment with different grommets to determine which works best at your office workstation. You can typically swap out your desk’s current grommet with a new grommet of similar size and shape.

#12) Add a File Cabinet

No office workstation is complete without a file cabinet. Depending on its size, as well as the size of the paper, a typical file cabinet can store between 2,000 to 4,000 sheets of paper. More importantly, it allows you to neatly categorize your documents so that you can find and access them more quickly in the future.

Before purchasing a file cabinet, determine exactly where you want to place it. You may not have the luxury of using a full-size file cabinet. If you work at a small cubicle, for instance, you may have to settle for a smaller, half-sized file cabinet – but that’s okay. Even small file cabinets can prove invaluable for office workstations.

If you’re worried that your file cabinet will tip over, choose a file cabinet with built-in counterweights. Counterweights are designed to weigh down the file cabinet at the bottom, thus making it difficult to tip over. Another feature to consider when shopping for a file cabinet is a locking mechanism. With a locking mechanism, you can safeguard your important documents from theft and tampering.

Oct 222019
 

As an office worker, you probably know the importance of using a comfortable and ergonomic office chair. It will allow you to work at your desk or cubicle for long periods of time without stressing your spine. Statistics show that up to 38% of office workers will experience back pain in any given year. Using a high-quality office chair, however, you’ll minimize stress on your spine and, therefore, protect yourself from back pain. But if you’re going to invest in a high-quality office chair, you’ll need to clean and maintain it.

Vacuum Dust and Debris

Once every few weeks, clean your office chair using the wand attachment of a vacuum cleaner. Assuming the wand attachment has a smooth surface, it should suction up most particulate matter without harming your office chair. Just turn the vacuum cleaner to a “low suction” setting, after which you can run the wand attachment across the seat, backrest and armrests.

Regardless of what type of office chair you own, vacuuming it on a regular basis will help extend its useful life. The wand attachment will suction stubborn dust and debris that could otherwise degrade your office chair and send it to an early grave.

Look for an Upholstery Tag

Look for an upholstery tag underneath your office chairIf you haven’t done so already, look for an upholstery tag on your office chair. Although there are exceptions, most office chairs have an upholstery tag. Also known as a care tag or care label, it features instructions from the manufacturer on how to clean the office chair. Different office chairs are made of different fabrics, so you’ll need to check the upholstery tag to determine the safest, most effective way to clean them.

You can usually find the upholstery tag underneath the seat of an office chair. Once you’ve located it, check to see whether it contains a cleaning code. Cleaning codes consist of one or two letters that reflect the best way to clean the office chair’s fabric.

Here’s a breakdown of the different cleaning codes used in upholstery tags and their corresponding definition:

  • W: The most common cleaning code used in upholstery tags, W means the office chair should be cleaned with water or a water-based product.
  • S: If the upholstery tag has the S cleaning code, you’ll need to clean your office chair with a water-free solvent. Office chairs made of organic fabrics like cotton, wool or rayon may damage when exposed to water, which is why manufacturers generally recommend the use of a water-free solvent.
  • W/S: As you may have guessed, the W/S cleaning code indicates that the office chair can be cleaned using either a water-based product or a solvent.
  • X: Finally, the X cleaning code means the office chair should be cleaned by vacuuming or brushing only. Using a water-based cleaning product or a solvent may damage your office chair if it features this cleaning code.

In the event your office chair doesn’t have an upholstery tag, you can check the owner’s manual for instructions on how to clean your office chair. If an office chair doesn’t have an upholstery tag, it should come with an owner’s manual featuring similar cleaning and maintenance instructions.

Spot Clean Using Soap and Warm Water

Unless otherwise stated on the upholstery tag – or in the owner’s manual – you can spot clean your office chair using soap and warm water. If you discover a superficial smudge or blemish on your office chair, blot the stained area with a damp washcloth, along with a small amount of liquid soap, until it comes clean.

You don’t need to use any special type of soap to clean your office chair. Just use a gentle-formula dish soap. After running a clean washcloth under running water, place a few drops of dish soap on it. Next, blot – don’t scrub – the stained area or areas of your office chair. Blotting is important because it will pull the stain-causing compounds out of the fabric. If you scrub the stain, you’ll inadvertently work the stain-causing compounds deeper into the fabric. So, remember to blot your office chair when spot cleaning it.

Test Stain-Removing Products in a Discreet Area

While soap and warm water should make quick work of superficial stains on an office chair, you’ll need a stronger cleaning solution for stubborn stains. There are a variety of stain-removing products available on the market, many of which contain powerful cleaning chemicals. But if you’re thinking about using one of these products, you should test it in a discreet area of your office chair.

Don’t just apply the stain-removing product to your entire office chair. Rather, test it in a discreet area that’s difficult to see. Doing so allows you to see how the product affects your office chair. You can test a stain-removing product underneath the seat of your office chair, for example. Hopefully this doesn’t happen, but if the product leaves a permanent stain, it won’t be visible.

Whether you’re planning to use a store-bought stain-removing product on your office chair or a natural stain-removing product, such as vinegar, you should test in a discreet area. As long as the product doesn’t damage or permanently alter the fabric, you can proceed to it elsewhere on your office chair.

Apply Conditioner to Leather

An example of a leather office chair

If you have a leather office chair, you should condition it once every few months to prevent it from drying out. There are different types of leather, some of which includes full grain, corrected grain and split. Full-grain leather is the highest quality, whereas corrected grain is the second-highest quality. All types of natural leather, however, have a porous surface that’s able to absorb and hold moisture.

If you inspect natural leather under a microscope, you’ll see countless holes on the surface. Also known as pores, these holes are responsible for keeping the leather moist. As moisture settles on the surface of a leather office chair, it will sink into its pores, thereby preventing the leather from drying out. Over time, however, moisture will evaporate from the pores. If left unaddressed, the leather will then peel or even crack open.

You can protect your leather office chair from such damage by applying a conditioner to it. Leather conditioners like mink oil and saddle soap are designed to hydrate leather. They contain water, as well as other ingredients, that hydrate and protect leather from dryness-related damage. When you apply a conditioner to your leather office chair, you’ll hydrate it so that it doesn’t dry out.

Here are some other tips on how to maintain a leather office chair:

  • Use caution to ensure that you don’t spill any beverages or other liquids on your leather office chair.
  • Maintain a relative humidity of 40% to 55% in your office. If the humidity is lower than 40%, your leather office chair may dry out. If it’s higher than 55%, on the other hand, it may become saturated with an excess amount of moisture.
  • Don’t condition your leather office chair more than once every few months. Over-conditioning leather will saturate it with too much moisture.
  • Consider using a leather protectant product. Not to be confused with conditioners, protectants are designed to add a protective layer over the surface of leather.
  • Don’t place your leather office chair directly in front of a heater or air vent.

Clean and Lubricate Casters

Clean and Lubricate CastersIf your office chair has casters, you’ll need to clean and lubricate them to keep the chair rolling smoothly. Casters are the housing units in which an office chair’s wheels are mounted. The wheels themselves are made of a variety of materials, some of which include plastic, rubber, steel, aluminum, cast iron and polyurethane. In comparison, the housing units are almost always made of some type of metal.

New office chairs typically roll smoothly and with little or no resistance. But if you’ve been using the same office chair for a year or longer, you may struggle to roll it across the floor because of debris buildup inside the casters.

To clean the casters, flip your office chair upside down and pull out any lint, hair or debris from inside the wheel housing units. You can also use a vacuum cleaner to suction excess debris out of the casters, or you can use canned air to blast debris out of the casters.

After thoroughly cleaning the casters on your office chair, apply a lubricant like WD-40. Just spray a small amount of lubricant into each housing unit, at which point your office chair should roll more smoothly. Try to get into the habit of cleaning and lubricate the casters on your office chair at least once every six months.

Tighten Fasteners

Of course, you should also inspect and tighten the fasteners on your office chair as well. Whether your office chair features screws or bolts (or both), they may come loose if you don’t tighten them on a regular basis. And if a fastener is loose, your office chair won’t be stable.

Refer to the owner’s manual to identify the location of all fasteners. Some office chairs only have a few fasteners, whereas others have dozens of fasteners. After identifying the location of your office chair’s fasteners, use a screwdriver to tighten them.

To tighten a fastener, turn the screwdriver to the right. You can loosen a fastener, on the other hand, by turning it to the left. An easy way to remember which direction to turn a fastener is “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.”

Replace Gas Cylinder

Office chair cylinderDoes your office chair sink back down to the floor immediately after you raise it? If so, you may need to replace the gas cylinder. Adjustable-height office chairs typically feature a gas cylinder that’s responsible for creating pneumatic lift. Inside this cylinder is pressurized nitrogen gas that’s able to lift and hold the office chair at an elevated height.

If the gas cylinder on your office chair is leaking or otherwise faulty, you won’t be able to raise it. The good news is that you can easily replace most gas cylinders. Just flip your office chair upside down, use a screwdriver to remove the current gas cylinder and replace it with a new gas cylinder of the same size and type. Once installed, try raising your office chair to see if the new gas cylinder works.

Keep Away From Direct Sunlight

It’s a good idea to keep your office chair away from direct sunlight. Ultraviolet (UV) sunlight can degrade most fabrics and materials, including those used in the construction of office chairs. It doesn’t happen overnight. But if an office chair is exposed to direct sunlight for a prolonged period, it may fade and dry out.

You don’t have to work in a pitch-black office to protect your office chair from sun-related damage. Instead, consider placing your office chair in an area that’s mostly shaded during the day. You can also adjust the blinds or curtains so that they are only partially closed, thereby restricting the amount of sunlight to which your office chair is exposed. By taking these simple precautions, you can rest assured knowing that your office chair won’t fade or dry out due to sun exposure.

Replace When Necessary

Even with regular cleaning and maintenance, you may still need to replace your office chair. According to one report, the average life expectancy of an office chair is between seven to 15 years. If your office chair is damaged or degraded beyond the point of repair, you should go ahead and replace it.

A high-quality office chair made by a reputable brand should come with a warranty. If any of the components break during the warranty period, the manufacturer will pay to repair or replace it. Always look for a warranty when purchasing an office chair, as this indicates the manufacturer is confident in its product.

After investing in a new office chair, though, remember to follow these cleaning and maintenance tips. Doing so will help protect it from premature failure. At the same time, a well-maintained office chair will provide you with a superior level of comfort when working.

Aug 262019
 

When searching for an office in which to run your small business, you may come across coworking office spaces. Not to be confused with shared offices, they’ve become increasingly popular in recent years. According to a report published by AllWork, the number of coworking office spaces in the United States increased by 16% and globally by 36% in 2018. To determine if it’s right for your small business, though, you must first understand how a coworking office space works.

What Is a Coworking Office Space?

Coworking office spaceA coworking office space is a community-centric office in which multiple freelancers and business owners – typically owners of small businesses and startups – operate. It’s called “coworking” because it offers a space in which freelancers and small business owners can work together to help each other achieve their respective goals.

The purpose of coworking office spaces is to create a sense of community for freelancers and small business owners. Statistics show there are roughly 22 million small business owners and 15.5 million freelancers in the United States. Unfortunately, many of these professionals are forced to work in isolated spaces where they experience little or no human interaction. A coworking office space solves this problem by cultivating and encouraging a socially driven community atmosphere.

A coworking office space usually has an owner or property manager who sells memberships to small business owners and freelancers. While pricing models vary, most involve a daily or monthly membership. To use a coworking office space, you simply sign up for a membership and pay the fee. As long as your membership is active, you can use the coworking office space to run your small business.

Even if your small business has a dozen or more employees, you can still run it from a coworking office space. You just need to purchase an additional membership for each employee who will use the space. Alternatively, some coworking office spaces sell subscription packages for multiple employees at a discount. You can scale up or scale down your subscription depending on your small business’s needs.

History of Coworking Office Spaces

While now common in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan, the concept of a coworking office space is still relatively new. According to TheAtlantic, they first appeared in San Francisco during the mid-2000s. After launching in The Golden State, coworking offices space were gradually adopted by other states and, eventually, other countries.

The concept of a multi-business working space was envisioned by American software engineer Brad Neuberg. As explained on his official website, Neuberg came up with the idea in order to solve a common problem encountered by freelancers and small businesses owners: a lack of community.

Neuberg enjoyed the freedom of working as a freelancer, but he missed the sense of community of working as an employee. This prompted the software engineer to develop the groundwork for the modern coworking office space.

Neuberg approached a friend he knew, Elena Auerbach, who worked at the Spiral Muse building in downtown San Francisco to inquire about setting up a coworking office space to sell to other freelancers and small business owners. Auerbach obliged under the condition that Neuberg pay $300 a month for two days per week usage. Neuberg’s coworking office space wasn’t an immediate success. After posting on Craigslist, he still didn’t attract any freelancers or small business owners to his coworking office space. With a more aggressive marketing strategy, though, he attracted his first member – and it wasn’t long before his coworking office space was filled with freelancers and entrepreneurs.

Coworking Office Space vs Shared Office

Coworking office spaceShared offices are often confused with coworking office spaces – and for good reason. Both models involve working in a space with other freelancers or small business owners. The difference, however, is that coworking office spaces emphasize community, whereas shared offices do not.

In a shared office, you’ll find the workstations are typically closed off from each other to provide privacy for the freelancers and small business owners who use them. You can still converse and communicate with other professionals in a shared office, but this generally isn’t encouraged. On the contrary, most members of a shared office focus on their own professional activities. They don’t interact with other professionals who are outside of their organization.

Most importantly, a coworking office space offers a community in which freelancers and small business owners are encouraged to interact with each other. Even though members have their own professional goals, they often communicate to share ideas, buy and sell services, ask for feedback and simply converse. You won’t find this type of social interaction in a shared office.

In short, coworking office spaces differ from shared offices in the following ways:

  • Coworking office spaces typically have an open layout, whereas shared offices have a closed or portioned layout.
  • Coworking office spaces encourage social interaction by creating a sense of community, whereas shared offices do not.
  • Coworking office spaces are usually larger than their shared office counterparts, meaning more freelancers and small business owners can use them.
  • Coworking office spaces are available through a daily or monthly membership, whereas shared offices are available through a lease.
  • Many coworking office spaces are part of a large network, so members can access multiple affiliated spaces. Shared office spaces, on the other hand, are not networked and usually consist of a single location.

Advantages of Coworking Office Space

Advantages of Coworking Office SpaceRunning your small business from a coworking office space offers several benefits, one of which is regular social interaction. According to a survey cited by Inc., nearly one in three small business owners feel isolated or lonely when working, compared to just 15% of non-entrepreneurial workers like employees or corporate executives. Considering that coworking office spaces often have dozens – sometimes 100 or more – members cohabiting the same space at any given time, you’ll be able to converse with other like-minded entrepreneurs if you run your small business here.

Depending on what your small business does exactly, you may be able to attract new customers by running it from a coworking office space. If you run a graphic design business, you can ask other members if they are interested in logo or business card design services. If you run a cybersecurity business, you can pitch antimalware services to other members. Practically all small businesses that operate in a business-to-business (B2B) niche can attract new customers by using a coworking office space. And even if your small business’s audience consists of consumers, you may still attract customers using this modern workspace.

You can save a substantial amount of money on your small business’s overhead expenses by choosing a coworking office space rather than a private office. With a private office, you’ll usually have to sign a lease, which can range from one to three years.  Not surprisingly, lease payments are exponentially more expensive than coworking membership payments. And if you decide to move your business, you may have to pay an early cancellation fee if you’re stuck in a lease. A coworking office space allows you to avoid these headaches by using a cheaper and more flexible membership-based payment system rather than a lease.

Coworking office spaces offer onsite amenities to members, some of which include Wi-Fi, printing, coffee, snacks, meeting rooms and more. While also available in shared offices, you won’t find these amenities offered in private offices. When running your small business from a private office, you’ll have to purchase and add these amenities yourself.

If you need feedback on a work-related project, you can ask another member of the coworking office space. Most members will gladly share their opinions; all you have to is ask. Of course, he or she may ask for your feedback in the future, so be sure to return the favor if the situation arises.

According to The Harvard Business Review (HBR), workers thrive in coworking office spaces because of their social atmosphere. Researchers found that workers are more efficient in workspaces where they are able to interact and converse with other people.

Disadvantages of Coworking Office Space

You cannot personalize your workstationLike with all workspaces, there are disadvantages to running your small business from a coworking office space. For example, you won’t have the freedom to personalize your workstation with your preferred furniture and decorations. Both coworking office spaces and private offices utilize a pool of workstations that are accessible to all its respective members.

Coworking office spaces don’t offer much privacy, which may be a concern for some small business owners. With their open design, you’ll hear other members talking and going about their day-to-day activities. If you’re easily distracted by noise, this may hinder your productivity and overall performance.

A potential disadvantage of coworking office spaces that’s often overlooked is increased proximity to competitors. If another member of the space operates in the same market or niche as your small business, some of your potential customers could choose his or her business rather than yours. This isn’t always a problem, as coworking office spaces often have a diverse group of members, but it’s still something to consider before purchasing a membership to a coworking office space.

You won’t have a dedicated business address when running your small business from a coworking office space. If a customer or potential customer asks for your small business’s address, you can’t give him or her the coworking office space’s address. Instead, you’ll have to use a different address, such as a Post Office (PO) box or virtual mailing address.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Coworking Office Space

There are a few important things to consider when choosing a coworking space. For starters, consider the location and its relation to your home. If it’s located 30 miles away – and the only way to access it is by driving down a heavily congested road – you’ll waste a lot of time commuting. By choosing a coworking office space that’s

It’s always a good idea to check out a coworking office space before purchasing a membership. Most owners and managers of coworking office spaces will allow you to take a tour of their facility at no cost. During the tour, pay attention to the way in which workstations are set up, how many members are using the space, whether or not the members are interacting with each other, and the amenities offered.

Don’t forget to check the hours of operation when choosing a coworking office space. Some coworking office spaces are only open to members during specific hours of the day, such as 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., but others are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With a 24/7 coworking space, you won’t be restricted to running your small business during specific times. Whether it’s early in the morning or late at night, you can visit the space to perform business-related work.

Here are some tips on how to choose a coworking office space:

  • Consider the price of membership and whether it’s within your small business’s budget.
  • Choose a coworking office within a reasonable driving stance from your home.
  • Make sure the coworking office is secure. At minimum, it should feature some type of access control system, such as key, as well as video surveillance monitoring.
  • Read over the coworking office space’s rules. If they aren’t posted on the wall, ask the owner or property manager for a copy.
  • Inquire about whether or not the coworking office space is part of a larger network, and if it is, find out where the affiliated offices are located.
  • The coworking office space should be large enough to accommodate your small business while it grows.

In Conclusion

Research shows the number of coworking office spaces in the United States is increasing at a rate of roughly 16% per year. Unlike shared and private offices, they promote a sense of community, which the key factor driving their popularity. However, coworking office spaces offer both advantages and disadvantages to other types of offices, so you need to assess whether it’s a smart idea for your small business.

Jul 192019
 

When designing your company’s office, you should consider the way in which it impacts employees’ stress levels. According to a report by the American Psychological Association (APA), work is the leading cause of stress in the United States.

If your office is poorly designed and fails to offer a relaxing and enjoyable working environment, employees will likely experience greater stress. Over time, this can result in lower productivity levels, higher turnover rate, and even more on-the-job accidents. You can lower the risk of problems such as these, however, by creating a stress-free office for your employees.

Allow Employees to Personalize Workstations

Allow employees to personalize their workstation or cubicleWhether your office has 10 workstations or 100 workstations, you should allow – and even encourage – employees to personalize them. Research has shown that personalized office workstations typically result in higher employee satisfaction and well-being levels.

Personalized workstations create a stronger emotional connection to the respective employee. After personalizing their workstation with framed photos, stickers, and other decorations, the employee will have his or her own unique environment in which to work. Non-personalized workstations, on the other hand, project a bland and generic working environment that offers little or no emotional connection to employees.

Upgrade Workstations With Ergonomic Office Chairs

Upgrade Workstations With Ergonomic Office ChairsDon’t make the mistake of choosing cheap, low-quality office chairs for your employees’ workstations. It may allow you to save a couple bucks on your company’s furniture expenses, but it will cost your company later down the road in the form of highly stressed employees.

According to a report by the University of California, Berkeley, nearly two in three office workers experience pain or physical discomfort caused by sitting. Office jobs require workers to sit for multiple consecutive hours, with some office workers sitting for eight or more hours during a typical workday. If you use low-quality chairs in your workstations, your employees are more likely to experience pain or discomfort, which often leads to stress. Instead, choose high-quality office chairs featuring an ergonomic design.

Design a Dedicated Breakroom

Design a Dedicated BreakroomAssuming your office doesn’t already have one, design a dedicated breakroom where employees can go to drink beverages, eat snacks or meals, converse or simply relax while on break. It’s difficult – though not necessarily impossible – for employees to perform these activities at their workstation. And even if an employee can eat snacks or converse at their workstation, he or she would probably prefer the quieter and more relaxing environment of a dedicated breakroom.

To take full advantage of the stress-relieving benefits of a dedicated breakroom, consider the following tips:

  • Add small dining tables and chairs so that employees can comfortably eat and drink.
  • Invest in a coffee maker, ensuring that your breakroom is also supplied with plenty of coffee, creamer, sugar, alternative sweetener, stirring sticks, cups, and other related items.
  • If there’s enough space for it, add a large couch for increased relaxation.
  • Decorate the walls with bright, energy-invoking colors like yellow, red, aqua blue, lime green, or tangerine.
  • Encourage employees to label their name on any foods or beverages that they store in the breakroom.
  • Add magazines or board games to keep employees occupied until their break is over.
  • Ensure power outlets are easily accessible and not obstructed or concealed by furniture.
  • Ask your employees for input on what furniture or amenities they’d like to see in the breakroom.
  • Keep your breakroom clean and free of clutter.

Create a Health and Wellness Program

Create a Health and Wellness ProgramAnother way to promote a stress-free office is to create a health and wellness program. Also known simply as a workplace wellness program, a health and wellness program is a voluntary program that encourages employees to make smarter choices regarding their personal health, such as participating in group exercises, smoking cessation programs or nutrition course. In exchange for joining your company’s health and wellness program, you can reward employees with perks such as cheaper health insurance premiums, free exercise equipment, or free gift cards.

According to Forbes, 87% of employees want a healthier working environment – and one way to provide your employees with a healthier environment is to offer a health and wellness program. But not many companies put forth the effort to create and offer a health and wellness program. They assume it’s an unnecessary expense that doesn’t offer any real value.

Creating a health and wellness program, however, can offer several benefits for your company. Employees will feel happier and more energized, resulting in higher productivity levels. And because stress and health are directly connected, employees who participate in your company’s health and wellness program will likely experience lower stress levels.

Maintain a Comfortable Climate

Maintain a Comfortable ClimateWhat’s the average temperature in your office? If it’s abnormally hot or cold, it may create a stressful environment for your employees. Employees can add or remove layers of clothing while working, but this isn’t always enough to beat excessively hot or cold office temperatures. If an employee becomes uncomfortably hot or cold, his or her stress levels will rise. So, at what temperature should you set the thermostat in your office?

There’s a growing debate over what’s the “ideal” office temperature. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) states that 68 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit is an ideal range for a comfortable and safe working environment, whereas a study conducted by researchers at Cornell University found that higher temperatures can yield better results for employers and their employees. Specifically, Cornell University researchers discovered that raising the office temperature from 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit resulted in 44% higher typing accuracy.

While 77 degrees Fahrenheit may sound pretty toasty, it may prove beneficial for employees who perform data entry work. With that said, it’s probably best to start at a lower temperature of around 73 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and depending on feedback from your employees, either raise or lower it to achieve a comfortable climate that eliminates stress and promotes productivity.

Embrace Employee Recognition

Employee recognition is a key concept used by many of the leading Fortune 500 companies to retain talent. It’s a broad term that refers to acknowledging, or recognizing an employee’s hard work. Statistics show that nearly two in three employees who work at a company without an employee recognition program aren’t satisfied with their job. And with low job satisfaction, these employees tend to be more stressed than their counterparts who work at companies with an employee recognition program.

There are different ways to structure an employee recognition program. You can create an employee-of-the-month program, for example, in which a single hardworking employee each month is honored and rewarded. If your company’s operations revolve around sales, you can recognize the top-selling employee each week.

Alternatively, you can create a more informal employee recognition program that involves recognizing each of your company’s hardworking employees in person. Regardless, you should show your appreciation to these employees by thanking them for their exceptional work ethics. By embracing employee recognition, employees won’t feel like their hard work is going unnoticed. As a result, they’ll feel more relaxed and less stressed.

Reduce Noise Levels

Reduce Noise Levels to Create Less StressFrequent exposure to loud noise can, not surprisingly, contribute to stress. If your office suffers from constant loud noise, it will distract workers from their job while causing their stress levels to increase in the process. According to a Plantronics study, 63% of employees say there are distracted by loud noise. It’s nearly impossible to create a silent office, but there are ways to reduce noise levels.

First, consider setting volume standards for computers and devices. If an employee has his or her computer turned up to full volume, other workers will probably hear it. However, if you require employees to use a specific volume setting, you’ll create a quieter and more peaceful office.

Second, use office furniture to absorb and dampen loud noise. It’s a little-known fact that using the right type of furniture – and placing it in the right location – can create a quieter office. Wood furniture, for instance, is typically more effective at absorbing sound than metal furniture. If there’s a specific area in your office where noise is a problem, try surrounding it with wood furniture, such as bookshelves and desks. Once in place, the wood furniture will absorb some of the sound vibrations to create a quieter environment for your employees.

Use Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy has dozens of practical uses, one of which is relaxation. The general belief is that exposure to certain aromas triggers the release of stress-reducing hormones and chemicals in the body, including serotonin and oxytocin. When a person is exposed to one of these aromas, his or her body will produce more hormones and chemicals that counter the effects of stress.

To take advantage of aromatherapy in your office, use a diffuser with scented oil. There are two main types of diffusers: reed and electric. Reed diffusers consist of jars or vases with sticks of reed. You pour the scented oil into the bottom of the jar or vase, at which point the reed will soak up and release the oil into the surrounding air. Electric diffusers, on the other hand, spray the oil as a light mist into the air. By adding the right aroma or aromas to your office, employees’ stress levels may drop.

Some of the top aromatherapy oils used for relaxation and stress reduction include the following:

  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Peach
  • Orange
  • Jasmine
  • Chamomile
  • Basil
  • Cinnamon
  • Peppermint

Offer Private Workstations

Offer Private Workstations as Opposed to an Open OfficeLack of privacy is a common problem in the modern office. In the past, offices were designed primarily using cubicles. While cubicles are still found in many offices, they’ve been largely replaced with open office designs, which lack the privacy of their cubicle counterparts.

If your office uses an open design, consider creating private workstations for your employees. Even with the widespread adoption of open office designs, research shows that employees prefer working in an office with private workstations. When employees are forced to work in an open office, they’ll feel like their every move is being watched – something that can cause increased stress.

You don’t have to necessarily use crammed and congested cubicles, but you should provide your employees with private workstations. In each workstation, add portioning walls to create a sense of privacy. With portioning walls raised above their workstation, employees will feel more relaxed knowing that they aren’t being watched every minute of their workday. Of course, employees will appreciate the added privacy, and it will probably show in the form of higher productivity levels.

Support BYOD

Allowing your employees to bring and use their own devicesAllowing your company’s employees to bring and use their own devices such as laptops or tablets from home will promote a stress-free office. Known as bring your own device (BYOD), it’s become a common trend in the office.

Supporting BYOD can pay off for your company in multiple ways. For starters, you won’t have to purchase as many devices for your employees, allowing your company to save money. BYOD also eases the burden of training employees on how to use a device. If an employee brings a personal device to use in the office, he or she is probably already familiar with it, in which case you won’t have to train the employee.

Employees are often more satisfied and less stressed when they are allowed to use their own device. According to a survey cited by ZDNet, 61% of employees say they are happier when working for a company that supports BYOD. And when employees are happy, they are usually less stressed.

If you’re going to support BYOD in your office, though, you should create a cybersecurity plan to mitigate the risk of data breaches. While BYOD offers numerous benefits, it often paves the way for data breaches. Personal devices usually have little or no security measures, so any data stored on them is more likely to be lost or stolen. You can still support BYOD in your office, but you should create a cybersecurity plan to protect against data breaches.

Working in any environment can cause stress, and an office is no exception. As an employer, you can control the atmosphere to which your employees are exposed. By following these tips, you’ll achieve a stress-free office that resonates with your employees.

May 212019
 

ergonomic office chairs

If you work in an office, you probably spend most, if not all, of your workday sitting. A survey conducted by the corrective lens company Acuvue found that office workers spend 6.5 hours on average sitting. Over the course of a year, that’s approximately 1,700 hours sitting.

Whether you spend more or less time sitting, though, you can protect yourself from joint pain and even increase your productivity by investing in a high-quality office chair. You’ll be able to work more efficiently and without experiencing back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) to which so many office workers are susceptible. Here are 12 important things to consider when choosing an office chair.

#1) Material

office chair material

The material used in an office chair’s construction will affect its performance. Over the years, manufacturers have begun using a variety of materials to produce their office chairs, each of which has unique characteristics.

Some of the most common materials in which office chairs are made include:

  • Genuine Leather: Consisting of tanned cowhide or sheepskin, genuine leather office chairs are soft, cool, stylish, and durable.
  • Faux Leather: While faux leather office chairs look and feel like genuine leather, they are usually made of other materials, including either synthetic or organic fabrics.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl office chairs are soft and comfortable, and because vinyl is a synthetic fabric, they are naturally resistant to water and other liquids.
  • Nylon: Typically used to create mesh backrests, nylon is another material in which office chairs are made. Nylon office chairs are cool, breathable, and lightweight.
  • Plastic: The least expensive option, plastic office chairs are generally used in waiting rooms where a large number of chairs are needed.
  • Wood: The oldest type of material used to make office chairs is wood. Wood office chairs are sturdy, attractive, and available in countless styles.

#2) Lumbar Support

office chair lumbar support

When choosing an office chair, consider whether it offers lumbar support. Some people assume that back pain only occurs in laborious jobs, such as construction or manufacturing, but it’s often office workers who are most susceptible to this MSD. According to a study of nearly 700 office workers, 27% of office workers experience a new instance of low back pain each year.

To lower your risk of low back pain, choose an office chair with lumbar support. Lumbar support refers to padding or cushioning around the bottom of the backrest that supports the lumbar region of your back (the area of your back between your thoracic and pelvic regions). It stabilizes your lower back, thereby reducing stress and tension on your spine and its supporting structures.

#3) Weight Capacity

This is an example of a big and tall office chair

An example of a big and tall office chair

All office chairs have a weight capacity, which you should follow for both your safety and the safety of your chair. If you weigh more than the capacity for which your office chair is rated, it could break under the stress of everyday use.

You’ll find most office chairs have a 200 to 250 pound weight capacity. The good news is that some office chairs are designed specifically for heavier workers. Known as big and tall office chairs, they feature a sturdier construction to provide a higher weight capacity. Big and tall office chairs are available in 300-, 400- and 500-pound weight capacities. In addition to a higher weight capacity, some models also feature larger seats and backrests. Choose an office chair with a higher weight capacity than the weight of your body.

#4) Casters

office chair castersNot all office chairs feature a traditional four-legged design. Some are designed with mounted wheels, known as casters, that allow you to roll around and rotate while sitting in them. If you have an L-shaped desk, for example, you can roll or rotate between the different areas of your desk. If you have a computer on one area of your desk and a writing station on the other area, you can quickly move between these areas without standing up if you choose an office chair with casters.

On its website, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends the use of office chairs with five casters in computer workstations to promote productivity and reduce the risk of injury. You can still use traditional four-legged chairs in conference rooms, waiting rooms and breakrooms. For computer workstations, though, choosing a five-wheeled office chair will improve your productivity while creating a safer workplace in the process.

#5) Size

office discomfortSpace is an invaluable commodity in offices, as well as most other workplaces, which is why it’s important to consider size when choosing an office chair. If you work in a small cubicle, you may not have the luxury of choosing an oversized executive office chair, in which case you’ll need to choose a smaller chair.

Before purchasing an office chair, get the measurements of the area in which you intend to use it. Using these measurements, you can choose an appropriately sized office chair. Remember, you can always fit a small office chair into a large workstation, but you can’t fit a large office chair into a small workstation. When in doubt, choose an office chair that’s at least a few inches smaller than the area in which you intend to use it.

#6) Adjustable Height

proper office chair seat heightFixed-height office chairs generally have a seat-to-floor height of 17 to 19 inches, allowing most office workers to comfortably to use them in front of desks and workstations. But not all office workers are the same height, and if you’re too tall or short for a fixed-height office chair, it may stress your back or neck when sitting in it.

OSHA recommends choosing an office chair with an adjustable height of 15 to 22 inches, meaning you should be able to lower the seat to just 15 inches off the floor or raise the seat to 22 inches off the floor. Whether you are short, tall or average height, this will allow you to comfortably use your desk or workstation. Most office chairs do not go down to 15 inches though so you may have to settle for 17 to 21 inches. Just an FYI, this measurement is typically measured from the floor to the top of the seat cushion. And, while we are on the topic of adjustments, if would also benefit you tremendously to choose an office chair with multiple ergonomic adjustments.

#7) Style

The style of an office chair won’t affect its functionality or performance, but it will affect the chair’s aesthetics and, therefore, your office’s décor. You can find office chairs in countless styles, ranging from traditional all-black executive styles to colorful modern and contemporary styles.

So, what style of office chair should you choose? If you’re choosing an office chair for a large office, stick with a familiar style to create a cohesive décor. If your office currently uses traditional all-black executive office chairs, for example, choose a similar all-black executive style. If your office uses brown leather office chairs, on the other hand, choose a brown leather style. Using a consistent style with your office chairs will enhance your office’s décor by creating a cohesive interior.

#8) Breathability

An example of a breathable mesh office chairSome office chairs are more breathable than others, making them ideal for office workers who get uncomfortably hot during the workday. Known as mesh office chairs, they are characterized by a backrest made of permeable mesh fabric.

By definition, the term “mesh” refers to strands of fabric that are connected together to form the appearance of a web. Mesh office chairs don’t have a solid backrest. Instead, they have a partially open backrest. As a result, you’ll stay cooler and more comfortable when sitting in a mesh office chair. The mesh backrest allows heat from your body to escape, essentially ventilating your body while you work.

If you work in a cool office where the temperature is consistently 68 degrees Fahrenheit or below – or if you typically stay cool during the workday – you may not need a mesh office chair. However, if you find yourself getting hot frequently when working, a mesh office chair is a smart investment. Its permeable backrest will allow heat to escape your body, keeping you cool and comfortable.

#9) Armrests

Proper arm angle when sitting

Armrests allow you to rest your forearms while sitting in front of a desk or workstation. Without armrests, you won’t have anywhere to rest your forearms, resulting in increased fatigue as well as a higher risk of MSDs. For desks and workstations, armrests are a must-have feature for office chairs. In other areas of the office, including breakrooms and waiting rooms, armrests are optional.

According to OSHA, office chair armrests should have the following features:

  • Soft padded material
  • Long and wide enough to adequately support your forearms
  • Adjustable height of 7 to 10.5 inches from the seat
  • Removable (ability to raise or lower them)

#10) Reclining

A comfortable office chair. This one reclines.

There are both reclining and non-reclining office chairs. For maximum comfort, the former type is recommended because it allows you to lean forward or backward depending on your needs. In its guide to choosing an ergonomic office chair, the General Services Administration (GSA) – a government organization designed to support other federal agencies – says office chairs with a reclining backrest reduce stress on the back and thighs.

With a reclining backrest, you can stretch periodically during the workday without standing up. Some office chairs even allow you to lock the backrest into your desired reclined position. Just unlock the backrest, recline it back until you find the perfect position for maximum comfort and then relock it. Once locked, it won’t tilt forward or backward, allowing you to use your office chair in its current position for as long as you desire.

#11) Warranty

The more durable the chair, the better the warranty

Don’t forget to check the warranty when shopping for a new office chair. Of course, not all office chairs are backed by a warranty, which is a red flag indicating that the manufacturer is not confident in the performance of its product. If a manufacturer doesn’t offer a warranty with an office chair – or if the manufacturer offers a subpar warranty – you should choose a different office chair.

It’s not uncommon for reputable office chair manufacturers to offer a multi-year warranty with their products. Boss office chairs are backed by a six-year manufacturer warranty, while ERA and HON office chairs are backed by a limited lifetime manufacturer warranty. If a component covered under the chair’s warranty fails within the warranty period, the manufacturer will pay to repair or replace it.

If you choose a high-quality office chair from a reputable manufacturer, you probably won’t need to file a warranty claim. Nonetheless, a warranty provides peace of mind knowing that if something happens to your office chair within the warranty period, the manufacturer will repair or replace it at no charge.

Be wary of stores and vendors that sell office chairs without a warranty. You might get lucky and find a high-quality office chair, but there’s usually a reason some manufacturers don’t back their products with a warranty – and that’s because their products fail prematurely. To avoid this headache, choose an office chair with a strong manufacturer warranty.

#12) Price

Search the web for the best price on your office chairHow much money are looking to spend on your new office chair? Like other office furniture, the cost of office chairs varies depending on its brand, model and the store from which you purchase it. Low-end office chairs cost as little as $100, while high-end office chairs can cost $600 or more.

Even the right low-end office chair can last for years. However, if you’re looking for the highest level of support, comfort, and protection from MSDs, choose a mid- or high-end model. You’ll get better value, over time, from a mid- or high-end office chair than a low-end office chair.

When shopping for an office chair, consider its total cost. Some stores charge shipping and handling fees, which can add 10% or more to the total cost of an office chair. If you purchase a $500 office chair, for instance, you may spend an additional $50 on shipping and handling fees. Furthermore, you may have to pay sales tax on an office chair. If you purchase an office chair locally, the store will likely sales tax based on the state’s designated rate, which ranges from 3% to 7% on average.

You can avoid shipping and handling fees by purchasing your office chair from Office Chairs Unlimited, as we offer free shipping on all products. And unless you live in the state of Pennsylvania, you won’t be charged sales tax either.

May 012019
 

The modern working environment is evolving. Statistics show that 30 million Americans now work from home office, according to a study cited by Forbes. As more business adopt telecommuting, you might be wondering if you should start working from a home office.

While home offices offer several advantages over commercial offices, there are also some disadvantages with which you should be aware. Below are some of the most notable pros and cons of working from a home office.

Pro: It’s Cheaper Than Renting or Leasing a Commercial Office

Working from a home office has it's advantagesYou won’t have rent or lease payments to make when working from a home office. Commercial office space isn’t cheap. Statistics show that businesses spend anywhere from $61 to $595 per square foot per year to rent or lease a commercial office, which doesn’t even account for utilities and other related services.

For a relatively small 1,000-square-foot office, businesses can expect to pay $61,000 to $595,000 per year. By working from a home office, you can avoid these payments altogether, allowing you to put that money towards improving and growing your business.

Con: You’ll Encounter More Distractions

Distractions are a common problem when working from a home office. Without defined boundaries separating your personal life from your professional life, you may find yourself getting distracted more frequently.

If you’re planning to work from home, you must learn to block out distractions while focusing strictly on work. Allowing even minor distractions to interrupt your workday could have disastrous consequences on your productivity and, therefore, the livelihood of your business.

Some of the most common distractions encountered by home office workers include:

  • TVs and radios
  • Pets
  • Family members and roommates
  • Household chores
  • Personal calls and text messages
  • Social media
  • Browsing the internet for personal reasons

Pro: There’s No Commute

There is no commute time, or frustration, working from a home officeThere’s no commute when working from a home office. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average U.S worker spends an average of 52 minutes per day driving to and from work. Over the course of a year, that calculates to over 200 hours of sitting in traffic. Rather than spending that time behind the wheel, you can use it to work from home.

Not only is commuting time-consuming; it’s expensive. A report published by the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that Americans spend an average of 60.8 cents per mile to drive their vehicle – a figure that accounts for ownership as well as operational expenses. Based on that number, a 32-mile daily commute may cost you over $19. Of course, you won’t have a daily commute if you work from home. When you wake up in the morning, you can walk across your house to begin working in your office, saving you both time and money.

Con: You May Feel Isolated

While this doesn’t happen to everyone, many people feel isolated or lonely when working from home. A study conducted by Buffer found that loneliness was the biggest challenge encountered by at-home workers. After surveying over 1,900 telecommuting workers, Buffer discovered that 21% of respondents cited loneliness as the biggest hurdle of working from home.

If you work in a commercial office, you’ll probably encounter other workers – either within your business or from other nearby businesses – daily. Transitioning to a home office, however, will reduce the frequency at which you see and engage with other workers, which could lead to a feeling of isolation or loneliness.

To overcome this challenge, arrange in-person meetings with other workers. Instead of spending your entire workday in your home office, for example, schedule a 30- or 45-minute meeting with other workers at a nearby café. Social interactions such as this will improve your mood while protecting against feelings of isolation and loneliness in the process.

Pro: You Can Claim It as a Tax Deduction

You can claim your home office as a tax deductionThe Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will allow you to claim your home office as a tax deduction if it meets the following two criteria:

1)  Your home office must be used regularly and exclusively for work. In other words, you can’t use your home office for other purposes, such as a gym or guest bedroom. It must be used strictly for work.

2)  Your home office must be the primary or principle place of your business. You can still perform other work-related tasks outside your home, such as meeting with customers or clients, but most your business’s work must be performed from your home office to claim it as a tax deduction.

Assuming your home office meets these criteria, you can claim it as a tax deduction. Because of the ever-changing nature of tax laws, it’s recommended that you consult with a tax professional for more information on how to claim a home office on your taxes. In 2014, though, the IRS introduced a simplified method for calculating this deduction.

Under this new method, you can calculate your deduction by taking the total number of square feet used for your office – up to 300 square feet – and multiplying it by five. If you have a 200-square-foot office, for instance, your tax deduction will be $1,000 (200 times five is 1,000). If you have a 300-square-foot office, your tax deduction will be $1,500 (300 times five is 1,500).

You can still claim your home office using the traditional method, which involves calculating the size of your home office relative to the rest of your home and weighing it against the annual cost of your home, but the simplified method is far easier.

Con: Increased Difficulty of Teamwork and Collaboration

Lack of teamwork and collaboration working from a home officeAnother challenge you may encounter when working from a home office is teamwork and collaboration. In a typical workday, you’ll probably work entirely alone. The only communication you’ll have with other workers is over the internet or by phone. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to collaborate on projects and work together as a team.

In the same Buffer report cited earlier, researchers found that collaboration was a top challenge for telecommuting workers. Without face-to-face interactions, telecommuting workers struggle to collaborate with other workers.

The good news is that software is available to improve your teamwork and collaboration skills when working from home, some of which include Trello, Microsoft Project, Basecamp, Slack, Google Drive, Samepage and Confluence. It won’t offer the same experience as face-to-face interactions, but the right software can still streamline and improve the way in which you collaborate with other workers remotely.

Pro: It’s Good for Your Health

You can exercise from a home office any time you want!Working from a home office may have a positive impact on your health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revealed that the average office worker consumes almost 1,300 calories per week in office snacks, 70% of which are complimentary snacks offered by employers. You won’t have access to free snacks when working from a home office, but you’ll have the freedom to choose healthier foods rather than highly processed “empty-calorie” foods.

Because working from home eliminates the need for a daily commute, you’ll have more time to exercise. Before you start working, you can spend 10 to 20 minutes doing aerobics or lifting weights. Alternatively, you can exercise during your lunchbreak. Without a commute, you should be able to squeeze more exercise into your lifestyle, which will have a positive and wide-reaching affect on nearly every aspect of your health.

Con: You Might Be Less Productive

Research cited by The Atlantic found a direct correlation between the proximity of a business’s location to its workers and the productivity of those workers. Workers who were closer to the business’s location were more productive than their counterparts who were farther away from the business.

Some people assume they’ll be more productive when working from a home office than a commercial office, but this isn’t always the case. If you lack the necessary self-motivation to force yourself to work, you could be less productive. Some at-work homes are guilty of hit the “snooze” button on their alarm in the morning, believing there’s nothing wrong with sleeping in a little later since they don’t have anyone looking over their shoulder. But it’s bad habits such as this that can hurt your productivity when working from a home office.

Pro: It’s Easier (and Cheaper) to Furnish

A home office is much cheaper to furnishNo office is complete without furniture. Home offices, however, are easier and cheaper to furnish than their commercial counterparts. Assuming you are the only person who works at your home office, you’ll only need to create a single workstation, which may consist of a high-quality office chair, computer desk and file cabinet. And the best part? You are in charge of the design!

If you run your business from a commercial office, on the other hand, you’ll have to create a workstation for each worker. If you have 10 workers, you’ll need to create 10 individual workstations. As you can expect, it’s more laborious and expensive to furnish a commercial office than a home office.

Con: You’ll Have Less Space in Which to Work

Typically, there is less space when working from a home officeHome offices are usually smaller than commercial offices. Statistics show that commercial offices in the United States are about 151 square feet per worker. If your business has 10 workers, that’s 1,151 square feet of commercial office space. Home offices are generally smaller, measuring about 150 to 300 square feet on average.

With less space, you won’t be able to store as much inventory or equipment in your home office. Depending on the type of business you run, this could hinder its ability to grow and expand. Not all businesses require a large amount of space to operate. However, if your business does, you may want to stick with a commercial office.

Pro: You’ll Be Able to Spend More Time With Your Family

Working from a home office will allow you to spend more time with your family. According to one report, the average U.S. family spend just 37 minutes together per day. Some families spend even less time together.

It’s difficult to spend time with your family when commuting takes up such a large portion of your day. Working from a home office eliminates your daily commute, however, allowing you to spend time with your family.

Con: You Won’t Have a Professional Business Address

A commercial office offers a professional address, whereas working from a home office does notA disadvantage of working from a home office that’s often overlooked is the lack of a professional business address. When you work from a commercial office, you can use its address for your business’s official address. On your business’s social media profiles, business cards, stationery, and other materials, you can include the address of your commercial office.

You won’t have the luxury of using a professional business address when working from a home office – not without a little extra work, at least. If a customer or client asks for your business’s address, you’ll have to provide him or her with your home address, which doesn’t look very professional.

The only solution is to rent a PO Box from your local post office or sign up for a virtual mailbox. The former will provide you with a PO Box address, whereas the latter will provide you with a street address from which you can receive mail.  If you use a virtual mailbox, all mail sent to the address will be scanned and stored in an online account. Just log in to your account, at which point you can read digital copies of your business’s mail.

Pro: It Offers a Flexible Working Schedule

You’ll have greater freedom to set your own schedule when working from a home office. Commercial offices often follow a traditional 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. schedule, with workers clocking in and out around these times each day. Although there’s nothing wrong with following a strict schedule, many people prefer working at different hours of the day.

When you work from home, you can choose when your workday starts and when it ends. If you’re a morning person who prefers working at 5:00 a.m., you can set your alarm to start working at this time. If you prefer working later in the day, that’s okay too. Just remember to plan your schedule in advance so that you can finish all your tasks while maintaining a high level of productivity.