(And not for the reasons you may think!)
What keeps you awake at night? Worries about work? Lingering headaches from the day? Achy body? Get a grip on ergonomics and you might start sleeping better! The link between ergonomic and restful sleep is more than just the physical though. Sure, if you’re working from a beanbag chair and can’t sleep due to a sore back, that’s to be expected. But what if ergonomics were linked to your overall wellness and job satisfaction? Curious how?
Let’s tackle the easy one first. Poor office ergonomics can lead to aches, pains, and over time, very real injuries. If your desk and equipment are not set up correctly, it’s likely that before long you’ll be tossing and turning at night with carpel tunnel wrist pain, neck and back discomfort, and poor leg circulation. Lighting is also a part of proper office set up. Did you know that migraine sufferers are more likely to experience increased instances of headaches if their office lighting is slightly too bright or too dim? Those lingering headaches can take a toll on your day and your rest.
But proper ergonomics, or that lack thereof, can also impact your job satisfaction. Let’s use the beanbag example again. If you are working from a beanbag it’s almost certain that you’ll have some range of enduring pain. And pain directly reduces productivity and causes fatigue. Imagine a day at the office when you’ve reached your desk, perhaps your kid woke you up at 3am and you couldn’t get back to sleep. Your back is stiff, you have a kink in your neck, and you have a packed schedule ahead. Most likely, you will accomplish less that day, your work will have errors, and you’ll probably not be your most pleasant self.
Now, imagine if you felt some degree of that day after day. You would naturally feel frustrated with your surroundings – including your job. Even if the root cause is physical, the result can spread to every area of your life, especially at work. And if there is one thing that is disruptive to sleep, it’s disliking your job!
Worry about work is another common factor that interferes with sleep. There are obvious factors that can cause you to worry about your employment; a poor review, missing your quota or budget etc. But there are also numerous and far more subtle cues that we subconsciously process about our companies and job security that can cause uneasiness and anxiety as well. Imagine if your company consistently missed making payroll on time. You’d naturally start to question their financial stability. Or perhaps your manager is unusually unforgiving with small mistakes or does not provide the resources to improve. Over time you’d start to wonder if you were truly valued in your role.
Attention to ergonomics can send a similar message. If your company is willing to invest the time and resources to train their staff and ensure that they are working safely – whether from the office or their home office – this communicates a sense of security and safety throughout the organization. Ergonomics is, after all, the study of workplace safety and how to better the environment to ensure employees’ wellbeing. Investing in ergonomic training and support sends a clear message that your employer cares about your health, safety and productivity
Especially now as nearly 90% of all global workers have moved to their home office at some point in 2020, more than ever the cues from your company can have a lingering mental impact. If they are leaving you stranded in setting up your desk at home, it’s likely that the underpinning worry and insinuation this communicates will creep into your thoughts at 3am…
Ergonomics is more than a special chair or a new desk. Ergonomics impacts physical health, productivity, work satisfaction and morale. If your company is turning a blind eye to your office, or home office, set up, perhaps it’s time to ask for some support. It’s not worth the lost sleep.