Karl Hahn Team : Front End Developer Tags : Performance

Less horrible work environments

Karl Hahn Team : Front End Developer Tags : Performance

Your working environment can greatly impact your productivity and attitude. In this article, I will be looking at the various aspects of your work space that you can maintain or change in order to make your life slightly less dreadful.

Your Monitor

Think of your monitor as a gateway to the super exciting and wonderful world of web development!

It’s something you’ll be staring at for 8 hours per day. The other 8 hours probably involve travelling to and from work for 3 hours while you stare at other screens (phones, tablets) and the remaining time staring at yet more screens (TV, gaming, fly.)

So I think it’s fair to say that we spend a lot of time on screens. It’s important to make sure your monitors are set up properly as to prevent repetitive use injuries and fatigue.

Monitors are usually set up to promote a relaxed and neutral position. You need to take notice if you are not comfortable or if you get sore. Analyse your environment and make changes where necessary. Consider monitor height, distance, and angle.

If your monitor is too low, ask your manager to buy you a stand. Failing that, you can use phone books (if you live in 1987), regular books (if you live in 1997) or cardboard boxes that come with various products, EG: Desk fans, keyboards, monitors, adult products, etc. Use one of these and your manager will probably feel sorry for you and buy you a stand.

Also look into the brightness and contrast of your screens. If your monitor is too bright or dull, it can strain your eyes. Some people are also sensitive to certain colour spectrums and receive eye irritations after prolonged exposure. A colleague of mine had red, sore eyes because he was sensitive to the blue spectrum. He changed the screen to be overwhelmingly yellow and he no longer has problems. All it took was a bit of time and a yellow highlighter.

Your Chair

You need something to sit on for that 8 hours. Hammocks, bean bags, sofas, swiss balls, subordinate co-workers and swivelling office chairs are commonly available. Most people will be presented with a multi-adjustable office chair, which will allow you to adjust the seat height, seat angle, back angle and back height.

If your chair is too high or low, you can get fatigue and injuries in many places. Once again, the key is a relaxed and neutral position. If you’re not comfortable and relaxed, make a change. Do it sooner rather than later, prevention is better than rehabilitation.

Ensure that you take frequent breaks. Get up and take a walk around. Observe your workmates, wait until they are in a comfortable working rhythm, then start talking to them. Tell them about that email you just sent them or start some chit-chat about the weather or game of thrones. Or just stand there and read what’s on their screens.

Glasses

This one is really overlooked. If you consistently feel out of energy in the middle of the day, or even at the end of the day, it may be worth getting your eyes checked. Even a +/-0.25 prescription can have a great effect on your energy levels. I say this from personal experience. It’s great having energy at the end of the day again.

A lot of people are afraid of wearing glasses. They think that it will deteriorate their eyesight. This isn’t true. Your eyesight will deteriorate over time naturally, to the point where you can’t even look into the eyes of your loved ones as you lay crippled and dying, unable to move in a cold and uncomfortable hospital bed, just another number that will soon be forgotten like all the rest. So don’t be afraid! Get your eyes checked and have a fantastic day!

Then there’s the fashion issue. Some people think that they will look like a ‘dork’, geek, nerd or other pre-80s insults. However, nerdy glasses have become quite fashionable lately and if you still don’t like them, there are things you can do to make them fashionable.

Consider attaching streamers to the temples of your glasses. Not only will you be the coolest cat in the office, but you will be able to tell from which direction the wind is blowing without even having to lick your finger. If you ride a bike, even better - streamers will make you go faster.

Pipe cleaners are also a great accessory to attach to your glasses, as they can take any shape you want. Imagine your co-workers surprise when you turn up to work with them shaped like your company logo, lightning bolts, or inverted pentagrams. You could have different attachments for different days. Mondays can be Marvel-Mondays and Fridays can be Phallic-Fridays. Make a game of it, it will contribute to company culture.

Your Desk

Your desk reflects your mental state. Think about it. Are you Dennis Nedry or some other guy who has a clean desk? Morgan Freeman (people with clean desks in movies are not really memorable, so it’s hard to think of an example. I’m sure Morgan Freeman is likely to have had a clean desk in one of his movies, like, didn’t he play the president or something? I know Donald Pleasance did, but most people won’t know him.)

The more crap you have on your desk, the more crap you have in your mind and therefore the more worthless you are as a human being. Don’t keep crap on your desk.

If, like me, you’re a family person with children and you need motivation, you can keep a framed photo of a loved one on your desk. But don’t include all your loved ones, you should only have one frame on your desk, otherwise it will be too messy. Just choose one person – Your wife, husband, favourite child etc.

I actually received an award for having the cleanest desk in the whole office a few years ago. Totally proud of that, the highlight of my year. Just wanted to mention it. It’s framed and on my desk.

Your Keyboard and mouse

Your keyboard and mouse can have an effect on your health, especially your wrist. You don’t want to get carpel tunnel syndrome. Ensure that your keyboard and mouse are the correct shape and height for you. EG: My wrists don’t bend upwards very much, so I prefer flatter mice.

Keyboards can come in many shapes and with many functionalities. My keyboard has a dedicated calculator shortcut, which I find very useful. Consider a keyboard with programmable keys as they can help streamline your work. They can be programmed to open photoshop, Visual Studio, Youtube and other useful applications.

Conclusion

Your working environment can greatly impact your productivity and attitude. In this article, I looked at the various aspects of your work space that you can maintain or change in order to make your life slightly less dreadful.