Changing An Unhealthy Work Environment –

The average worker spends 8 hours, 5 days a week in an office, typically from the ages of 18 to 65. Over a lifetime, that’s 97,760 hours of your life spent inside of an office. Work overtime, and you just might push it into the six figures. That’s a lot of time to spend in one place. Is it making you healthy, or bringing you down? Check out these warning signs, and find out what you can do to turn it around if you’re working in a toxic environment.

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Is your office making you unhealthy? If you can identify with one or more of these markers, it might be time to make a change:

  • Weight gain. Office potlucks, treats from home, and lunches out can all add up, especially if they happen on a regular basis. If you’ve gained weight since starting your job, heads up: you may need to refrain from the extra calories on the job.
  • Frequent headaches. Whether you’re suffering from indoor air pollution or poor desk ergonomics, headaches can be an unfortunately common complaint from workers in unhealthy offices.
  • Tension and pain. Often a cousin to frequent headaches, chronic tension and pain may be caused from poor posture at work.
  • Fatigue. It’s normal to feel a little worn down after work, but chronic post-work fatigue is a big deal. Do you feel stressed on the way home or feel like you can’t let go of work? You need to learn to leave work at the office and save your energy for your personal time.
  • You’re sick, all the time. Offices are a hotbed of germs. Parents bring little kid colds to work, office jerks avoid washing their hands in the bathroom, and people forget to clean their desks for a year. No wonder you get the flu every winter.

If this sounds a lot like your office, we have bad news: you’re working in an unhealthy environment. But there’s good news: it’s not terribly hard to make things better. There are plenty of ways to make your office space just a little bit more healthy and comfortable to work in. Try a few of these on for size:

  • Turn down unnecessary calories. It’s OK to join in on treats, but if cupcakes are coming to your office on a weekly basis, it’s no longer a treat. Keep your extra eating in check, and be sure to get up and walk around the office whenever possible.
  • Learn a thing or two about office ergonomics. Much of the desk-induced pain that you can suffer from working in an office can be eliminated with better planning and ergonomics. Proper chair and desk height, monitor positioning, and places to rest your eyes can make a world of difference when combating headaches, tension, and fatigue.
  • Clean the air. You may not have a lot of control over how often the air ducts are cleaned, or what kind of job the cleaning service does when it comes to vacuuming, but you can make a difference in your own area. Consider opening a window for fresh air, running a fan to keep things moving, or even plugging an air ionizer into your outlet.
  • Leave work at the office. In today’s ever-connected working world, it can be hard to let go. But it’s healthy and absolutely necessary to your sanity that you leave things behind when your work day is done. Consider what you need to do to feel “finished” before leaving the office, and even come up with an end of day ritual to help get yourself into a non-work frame of mind.
  • Stay clean. You can’t control what your coworkers do, but you can keep illness in check with a few simple precautions. Wash your hands on a regular basis, avoid eating at your desk, and remember to wipe down your desk, electronics, even phone and desk chair at least once a week to banish germs.
  • Make your space friendly. There’s no fooling yourself into thinking that work is like home (unless of course, you work at home), but that doesn’t mean you can’t make things more enjoyable and comfortable. Add your personality to your work area, bringing photos and small, fun items that help you leave your mark.

Do you work in a healthy office? What do you plan to do to improve your work environment?