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Creating a healthy, comfortable work space that aids productivity need not be expensive or complicated
On June 2, Ontario enacted “right to disconnect” legislation that require companies with 25 or more employees to have a policy outlining when people can be contacted about business at home or after regular hours.
Intended to bring about a better balance between work and personal life, it’s an issue that will be especially important to the increasing number of people who combine work from home (WFH) and part-time office options, and is the latest in a number of factors affecting home design.
Because while mental health matters, it’s also important that home offices are designed to reduce physical stress, says Rachel Mitchell, a Canadian Certified Professional Ergonomist who is part of a team at workplace improvement experts Ergo.
Mitchell is also a member of a Work from Anywhere Advisory Council for Staples, which recently partnered with Canadian designer Joe Mimran and seating manufacturer ergoCentric to bring to market a relatively affordable ergonomic office chair.
It compliments Gry Mttr, Mimran’s wider collection of furniture, accessories, and art that’s described as smart home and office products that live at the intersection of life and work.
The made-in-Canada airCentric ($600) comes in three sizes and is available through Staples. There’s a useful video in which Mitchell explains how to properly adjust a chair — the first step, she says, to an ergonomic home office. It’s one in a series that offer solid advice and information about how to make WFH spaces function well, and look attractive.
Until you can invest in a well-designed office chair, it’s a good idea to move around throughout during the work day. “The less optimal your work station, the less time you should spend using it. So if you’re working at home and don’t have great set up, we encourage people to sit there for a bit and then take their laptop over to a bookshelf or a buffet and stand and work to work for a while.”
Working from home means that you can personalize office space. If, for example, you enjoy having a scented candle on your desk on dreary winter afternoons, you can do so without worrying that your co-worker has a fragrance sensitivity.
Do make sure, though, to choose candles that won’t negatively affect air quality.
Montreal-based Moonday Candles makes candles with vegan and natural ingredients that are scented with delightful phthalate-free fragrances and essential oils that run from floral, fruity and citrus notes to warmer, woodsier options like cedarwood and sage.
Folks new to working from home may be tempted to work in their pajamas, but it’s a good idea not to make a habit of that, especially since WFH wardrobes can be both comfortable and stylish.
That’s the idea behind Canadian brand Forward With Design’s “Friday” collection of easy-care pants, tops, dresses and shirts that serve equally well for a Zoom meeting, an in-person event or a casual coffee catch- up.
There are also three relaxed yet sleek capsule collections (Push, Drirelease, and Free) sustainably made with materials that include recycled polyester from post-consumer plastic bottles, recycled nylon from fabric scraps, and a partially plant-based spandex substitute.
Creating a healthy, comfortable work space that aids productivity need not be expensive or complicated, says Mitchell. It can start with small fixes — like getting a foot rest to help maintain good posture, raising a monitor with a box to reduce neck and shoulder tension, or adding a wireless keyboard and mouse to lessen repetitive strain on wrists.
The right chair, properly adjusted, can provide an immediate and significant improvement, she adds, making it one reason she enjoys the field of office ergonomics.
“It’s not the most complex thing I do,” says Mitchell. “But when I help someone adjust a chair and hear them say ‘oh my gosh, that feels so much better’, I know I really made a difference in their day.”
Vicky Sanderson is the editor of Around the House, www.aroundthehouse.ca. Check her out on Instagram@athwithvicky, on Twitter ATHwithVicky and on facebook.com/ATHVicky.