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Working in an office is not always the healthiest place

(Updated Feb 2021)

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Working in an office is not always the healthiest place.

A very close friend of ours, suggested this blog, ways of helping anyone working in your own space and communal offices.

Finding ways to make your office more eco-friendly and a healthier place to work ( in your office or at home)

This can be recycling, energy-efficient appliances and green, natural cleaning products. Monitoring your energy uses and turning off appliances over night. Incorporating green energy where you can, solar panels and choosing a green energy plan, if you have the opportunity in your area.

Going paperless is a great way of saving trees, it is amazing just much we go through. Digital information is great, but backing up your information is essential ( we have lots information from computers that have crashed!)

As mentioned in this blog , air quality can be enhanced by having plants in your office space. Also working near natural light as much as possible.

( Using sun protection when working near windows)

Of course it is much more difficult at the moment with many people working in their homes. That has bought its own challenges as we try to find a quiet area or a space we can work in . Often a lot of us, just used to balance the laptop on our knees. Finding a comfortable place to work is even more important.

One of the first things we do in our home office in the morning, is to turn on the internet and fire up the computers.

We started to turn off the WiFi in the house at night or if we are not in the house. I read that even animals in your home can become affected by the WIFI.

This article on SHIELD YOUR BODY .Who are in the same mind set about protecting you and your family by shutting off the WIFI at night . They suggest there is are many health risks by leaving the WIFI on especially at night when it isn’t being used. We are very aware of our dogs who sleep in the same room as the router.

( FROM LINK –

There are literally thousands of high-quality peer-reviewed scientific studies linking this type of radiation to negative health effects like cancer and infertility. In one such study, scientist Dr. Martin Pall calls WiFi an important threat to human health and details seven well-established effects of WiFi exposure, including sperm dysfunction, cell damage, and oxidative stress.

The World Health Organization lists EMF radiation as a Class 2B carcinogen. In reality, there is no safe level of EMF“.)

A really sensible well thought out article on why we should all be aware of what we are using in our homes, often without thought. I even leave my mobile in another room away from our bedroom, it just isn’t worth the risk.

I have to admit I have mixed feeling about 5G being in place, there won’t be many places that you can hide from that, wherever you live.

I have seen the pro’s and con’s for both sides, but the truth is they really don’t know what the effect is going to be long term .SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN give some ideas too.

There has been an appeal to the EU from more than 180 scientists and doctors, warning of the possible health risks from 5G. The jrseco give a full account of the appeal. Mind with the EU giving 700 million in funding I don’t think there is going to be much change.

We live in rural France so our light pollution at night is pretty non- existent. My husband was out the other evening with one of our dogs( watering the grass if you know what I mean!) He came rushing inside the house , calling for me to look outside.

I have to admit the both of us stood there watching a load of lights going up into the sky, one following the other in formation.

Our daughter asked if it was aliens! No! it was the Satellite Train, around 66 satellites going up , to enable the 5G .

How many will eventually be circulating earth I don’t know. The BBC have a bit more on their science page on this too. I also saw there could be issues in the night sky for the light pollution they could create.

USING THE COMPUTER SCREEN 

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There are ways of protecting your eyes when using a screen These ideas are by ELITE DAILY 

The use of computers or some sort of screen is a daily occurrence now for most people. Using the right type of glasses to shield your eyes from the glare of the screen. These have filters to cut out the blue light and help with your eye tiredness.

I think the worry for me is all the children and adolescents, who are using these screens too late in the evening or even in bed. They are not allowing their eyes or mind to relax before they try to sleep.

My husband tends to use a night setting on his screen. I have to admit to finding the colours too dim for myself.

As above there different. types of screen protection available. I was warned about protecting myself when pregnant as well. Though since I have seen that if you are going to be using the computer all day, don’t rest it on your stomach, keep to your knees or better still on a desk.

HEADACHES

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Ways to avoid them ,whilst using a computer screen.

I have to say I am totally rubbish at getting these, for me it is prudent to work in small blocks of time as I have suffered from Migraines.

BLOG HUB SPOT  give A  60 second trick to stop headaches using computer screens at night.

Headaches can be bought on by computer eye strain. There is the ability to put down the brightness of your screen, my husband uses that all the time. Maybe changing the color of your screen from white would help your eyes from strain.

Anything to keep from getting a headache!, or you end up losing the day! What I find helpful is the 20/20 rule, looking away from your screen for 20 seconds, I have my desk near a window, that enables me to look away in the distance,not always looking at the screen. Even a picture or poster on your wall, something you can focus on, to allow your eyes to relax.

LIGHTING ( Why is lighting so important in your office?)

The lighting around you, whether that be a lamp or an overhead light, is so important for your health and wellbeing, the correct lighting can make a world of difference to concentration, eye strain and headaches. A few ideas here

A Nest With A Yard- Have some ideas on lighting a room without windows.

When I worked years ago in a shop, the lighting was those terrible strip overhead lights, which used to bounce the light off the glass cabinets, the amount of headaches that they induced was incredible, they even increased my need for using glasses.

I think most people just accept the lights in a room, but they can make a huge difference. Even to your mood!

Glare can also be an issue for eye strain.

As I mentioned above the glare from screens is a huge reason for the eye strain and headaches, but also where you position your desk, is the lighting from windows affecting you?

Especially in the Summer months. Make sure that you can sit near natural light , and position your screen to avoid glare and shadows as the sun moves around your room. Also having the window open, is great way to get fresh air, and make you feel more alert.

Although there is more on using the correct chair, below. Sitting incorrectly can also give you muscle strain which can lead to a headche.

One company I worked for actually had someone come around and check the position of your chair and how that effected the way you sat at your desk. Most people don’t really give that a thought.

RADIATION AND COMPUTERS 

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There is an extremely well written blog ,by a gentleman named

Christian on EMF ACADEMY he explains the detail on Radiation on computers and the history.

I have to add, that my husband said his head was buzzing, after being on the computer so much.I have to admit ,that he placed some tin foil inside a hat and sat around in that!Good job he works from home!

There have been a few articles that I have seen warning about some of the dangers that can be associated with using your computer.

This article on EM WATCH explains some of these areas and gives solutions. It surprised me just how many health issues could be effected by computer use. Even down to sleep issues and Asthma .

IT STILL WORKS has some area also including eye strain, and solutions to help your working environment.

While looking into how you can use a shield to protect you and your family , I have first come across an American company called DEFENDERSHIELD , I have included a link, which may help if you are States based.This is about the protection in your home.

MONITOR SCREEN FILTERS /AMAZON

HEALTHY HOUSE has other protection equipment available , against WiFi too. As I mentioned before , we turn off ours when we leave the house or at night.

HEALTHY AIR

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A simple way to give yourself a better air quality, is to use nature and use PLANTS in your environment.

Some are better than others.

Areca Palm is one of the top results I have found. A surprising one I found was Aloe Vera ,I never realized that it can help with removing Formaldehyde, I have only ever associated the plant with healing properties. Plants are amazing.

This article on COUNTRY LIVING lists 10 Plants who preform well in this aspect.

THOMPSON AND MORGAN via Amazon do a selection of Air purifying plants. The great thing is they enhance the look of your environment too.

USING EQUIPMENT FOR PURIFYING THE AIR 

THE EVENING STANDARD NEWSPAPER  Have a list of top Air filters for the home and office.

There is also a varied amount of these on Amazon .

It is possible to check your air quality with a portable monitor, there is some idea of the from air quality home who also give the Top 5 Best Portable Monitors. If you have some sort of breathing problem, it is a great idea.

IS PRINTER INK TOXIC ?

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SMALL BUSINESS .CHRON  discusses the toxic quality of Ink, that you maybe using  in the photocopier or printer.

I am not sure how you can avoid these, many printers have their own individual cartridges. May be just to aware of how you pick up the paper, especially just after it has printed. Not all Ink is the same .

I read an article some time ago, about the ink that is on your normal supermarket receipts. Being careful how you handle these, as they can contain toxic chemicals such as BPA or BPS.

Which the same sort of chemicals that they have been using in some plastic bottles( We have been avoiding this type of plastic bottle for years) or it can also be found in some linings in tin food. Safer Chemicals go into the problems of this.

I wonder if the people who work on these tills are ever told about this problem. We are always very careful how take the receipt and to wash our hands afterwards.

After reading about the speed, of which these chemicals can enter your body is worrying. I guess the only way to try and mitigate this is to touch the receipt on the edges or put in a separate bag? It is hard not to become paranoid! Though better to know what you are dealing with than not.

This is an exert from the report above

And this type of “thermal paper” isn’t limited to receipts—it’s also used for movie and concert tickets, boarding passes and deli meat and cheese labels. It’s pretty hard to avoid. And studies have found that the body absorbs more BPA when thermal paper is handled with moist or greasy fingers. Using hand sanitizer and hand creams can make the body absorb BPA much more rapidly.” ( this is a little worrying at the moment, the amount of hand sanitizer we all use when out and about)

STRESS AT WORK 

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Although not a environmental risk. Stress can be very damaging to your health. I used to work in a sales environment. That was so stressful, with some of the calls you had to make, people can be quite rude when you call them. I do get that it can be a total pain to keep getting phone calls. Though in a business environment you would think that people were used to them. The end of monthly targets were very stressful.

I am in awe of people, who can spend their whole lives in that type of environment. I am not sure their stress levels are any lower than mine were!

FORBES have 12 ways of combating stress at work. From breathing exercises to changing some of your work patterns.

When I was working in a Stressful Sales environment , I found that being organised with my go to lists, were very helpful for my stress level.

Also being able to go outside away from the office was helpful, even for a quick drink or lunch. To be able to breath in fresh air outside. The amount of people I saw eating their lunch at their desk was amazing.

The noise level where I worked was very intrusive , I found it very hard to hear the other person on the telephone.

There are pods available to keep the noise level down. I found it quite stressful to appear professional, with people shouting in the background.

( the term in the office was the ‘Farm Yard’ ).

This video may help if you have the same problem at home.

Also you can find types of noise cancelling headphones here.

We were given the headsets with the microphone connected, but the outside noise still penetrated.

HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL has some other methods of coping with stress. This also give an insight into how our bodies are affected with stress.

There are Anti Stress toys available , maybe they are helpful to you.

SITTING AT A DESK 

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Sitting all day at a desk is not great for your health.

I had no idea that there was anything else available.

Or on the sofa like my husband. People are using their computers in so many places around the home now, even sitting on your bed.

It is good to have a variety of work spaces available if you are working from home, to allow your body to move around.

I started to work in a company that had desks, which could rise up and down to enable a person to move around

These desks here move in different ways to allow you to adjust your working positions.

UPLIFT DESK also make these for you. They offer a 7 year warranty too. Based in Texas USA.

ERGO DESKS are another company producing these helpful desks and based in the UK.

These desks help you feel more alert too

I came across this lovely wooden Laptop desk made by Homfa in Eco friendly Bamboo which doubles up as a breakfast tray( with legs) on Amazon They make a lot of furniture and storage too

Here are some that you can pop on your lap or table. It is better not to allow the computer directly on your lap. As they can get too hot. It is much better for your posture sitting up correctly.

I came across another design to allow you to stand at your desk today, made in Germany the company is called STANDSOME they seem to offer different sized ” tables” as you can see by the photo. They are made with Beechwood. You are able to flat pack carry these to allow you to move into your office if you spend part of your working week somewhere else. Great idea.

KEEPING FIT IN THE OFFICE

We are all sitting at screens far too long. It isn’t good for our health or our posture.

It isn’t just at work but at home we are all looking at mobiles, computer screens or iPad or the TV of course, there is so much on places like Netflix . It is important to think about how long we are sitting stationary. It is easy to think one more job and I will finish , but if you are like me and can get caught up and lose another hour without even realizing it.

It is good practice to set a timer and take that 5-10 min break, have a walk, get outside for some fresh air if you can. It will improve your concentration and help avoid eye strain and headaches.

There can be all sorts of trick to keep you moving, and allow the blood to circulate your body better.

My husband uses a small stepping machine to keep active as he is working.

The only thing I have against that, is the noise it makes! It can make you think that he is doing something else!

A SELECTION OF STEPPING MACHINES on Amazon

The new fun seat in his office is a huge big ball with a ring to stop him rolling all over the floor!

I tried it but my legs wouldn’t reach the floor! Though I guess I could just use less air.

He says it has already made a difference to his posture and back. This really helps you balance your posture.

This like the one we recently purchased on Amazon called TRIDEER

Maybe try a five minute Yoga break to stretch out. Helping strain on shoulders and neck muscles.

Also drinking enough water helps with stress and fatigue. Maybe pick up a nice re-usable bottle which makes you want to use it( not plastic if you can, maybe glass or stainless steel)

SEATING IN YOUR OFFICE

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REPUBLIC LAB have the Top 15  ergonomic office chairs . A list to help you decide which is good for your back. They also have a video on this link explaining more.

I remember when my mum decided to buy a strange looking chair for her back, I am not sure that it lasted too long. This type of Ergonomic chair is still out there.

This Amazon link can give you some more ideas of what is out there.

This is a link also to some lumber support ideas , as sitting at a desk can be a killer on your back.

THE GERMS FLOATING AROUND THE OFFICE 

I don’t know which is worse for germs, the office , school or college.

Not only are people in work, leaving germs on Keypads and the telephones, but on any coffee and tea stuff left in the office.

In our little kitchen area, at our work place, was a host of stuff, lurking in cups and in the fridge. There was probably a cure for a disease in there. The sink was something else too.Total Yuk! It was hard to even leave a packed lunch in the fridge.

There are some ideas for safer cleaning methods below.

TOILETS

Well what can I say , they are not the greatest place for cleanliness. I have to admit using a tissue to open the doors of the loo.

One thing I totally hate, is the smell of an air freshener pumping out chemicals into the environment. Its hard not to breath in when you are in there! The smell is so overpowering. To watch some people not washing their hands after using the loo was horrible, they are going to touch something in the office.

Then came the winter period with coughs and colds too.

What can you do to minimise your contact with these?

CLEANING KEYBOARDS, PHONES 

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I saw a program on T.V. ages ago now, which analysed the bacteria and bugs left on keyboards ( and some other yuk stuff , after people had used the loo! say no more! )

I started to look for a cleaner without chemicals, so far,I have found ECOMOIST  Also a product made by PURE 

These can be used on screens and tablets. A whole list of uses are on the links.

Using a phone all day in a call centre . Goodness know when they were last cleaned! Nobody really gives them a thought.

WORKING AT HOME AND FINDING A BALANCE

Since writing this blog , the world has gone crazy and we are all in lock down over the Covid 19 virus. Many more people are learning to work remotely.

USING A VIDEO LINK

If you are a mum or dad and trying to work from home, it can be hard to find the right balance for you and your family.

Maybe it is the first time to use such applications for Video linking such as Zoom or Skype. How is everyone getting on with setting these up?

I know that I have had a number of issues with helping people go live on these platforms. What is easy for some becomes stressful for others.

I found a lovely piece on Balance Careers .com where they talk about 5 things to avoid while using one of these sites. It can be embarrassing! Even using a Facetime with my parents in the week, I thought my dad was fully dressed to discover he had on his boxers and a shirt! my mum just laughed.

My husband and I started working from home after our daughter was born. It was a great move for us. I hate that tug on your heart strings if you are work and one of your children get sick, or there is something on at their school that you want to attend.

I always felt torn in two, you want to give your very best for both situations. I used to end feeling as though I hadn’t made anyone happy. Then I used to be thinking of the other situation , whether it was about the family or the job.

What is your happy balance? For us , working from home was the key to this. But and it is a big BUT, keeping focused can be really hard.

I thought when I had our daughter it would be easy to get back on the phone and computer while she slept. yeah, right! She only slept for about 20 mins at a time, by the time she had been fed and changed, she was a wake again! totally impossible for me to get on a business phone call.

For my husband it was much better,working from home enabled him the opportunity to see our daughter grow up.

All of this can be stressful if you are trying to work from home, maybe setting up your own business too.

PC MAG have some tips on Organisation for your working life if you are working from home. Setting rules to balance that work between home life and office hours. We find that difficult at times, to just switch off.

If you have work in front of you, it is so easy to just finish something, then you look at the clock and realize that you have just spent another or or so working. Having your own clock. Who comes into your space, do you need to be in a separate room? Which is hard if you are working with your children or pets there.

As I mentioned before I am a list person, which works for me, as long as you don’t lose those bits of paper! Using a White Board to have the information readily available is great too.

Using your calendar is also a good method , being able to see in advance just what your commitments are including family ones that may coincide.

Not everyone can work on their own, they miss the office chat,and not seeing anyone through the day can be quite soul destroying if you are not used to it.Though more companies are using a video link to connect their staff.

Can you be focused or are you stopping by the cookie jar each time that you use the bathroom? I did threaten my husband with a lock on the cake tin! or at least a bell! I had left him working ,to pop to the supermarket, I forgot something and quickly returned to the house. I kid you not! He had been in the house alone for only 2 minutes or so, and I caught him red handed with his hand on a cookie! He had the decency to blush!

GETTING ORGANISED

Finding ways that make you more comfortable in your work space, how to organise that space to make it work for you.

Even your desk position is important. Make your life easier and do a check of these ideas before you start working. It is even easier when you are home to just put up with whatever you have in the house. It is not always the best thing for your health.

BULLET JOURNALS

These seem to be so popular now, I remember when it was all Filofax ( showing my age!) If you have never looked into these, there is a very popular video by Amanda Rach Lee below

They seem to be for people who love to work with a pen and paper, which I admit to like using, a way not to lose those bits of paper , there is a clear description on BUZZFEED as some of the wording makes the whole process sound so confusing. Maybe this something that you can use if you are creative also. I have even seen them sold in our local discount store.

There are a few more ideas for storing stuff on this link. Why does there always seem to be bits of paper floating around, it has to come from somewhere!