Minimizing Work Space Stress

Creating a Comfortable and Healthy Work Environment

Man holding his sore back at his desk.

Identify and manage the sources of environmental stress in your work space.

© iStockphoto/Yuri_Arcurs

Ling has just moved into a new office. Unfortunately, it isn't a comfortable space – the lights are too dim, the air is chilly, and she's regularly distracted by her colleagues' loud conversations. She has to commute much further to the new office, and often arrives feeling tired, stressed, and irritable.

After a few weeks, Ling realizes that her stress levels have increased, and that her productivity has dropped. She is also more irritable with her team and with her family at home.

After meeting with her boss to discuss the problem, they agree to make several small changes to her office. Now, her work space is well-lit and inviting, and the air is warm and comfortable. Ling is now able to telecommute two days a week, and, while she can still hear telephones and her colleagues' conversations when she's in the office, she listens to "white noise" through her headphones and is rarely interrupted by these sounds.

No matter what you do or where you work, it's likely that you'll have experienced environmental distractions during the day. If unaddressed, these can contribute to the levels of stress you experience. In this article, we'll look at some common sources of work space stress, and we'll discuss strategies that you can use to reduce their impact.

Where Does Work Space Stress Come From?

Work space stress can come from any physical conditions that you perceive as irritating, frustrating, uncomfortable, or unpleasant. Sources of work space stress include the following:

  • Poor lighting.
  • Loud background noise, such as music, traffic noise, or conversation.
  • Chairs or desks that cause discomfort, or even repetitive strain injuries (RSI).
  • Unhealthy air, such as air pollution, smoke, or unpleasant smells.
  • Overcrowding, or workstations in close proximity to others.
  • Long, difficult, or crowded commutes.
  • Uncomfortable climate conditions, such as an office that is too hot, too cold, too humid, or too dry.
  • An unclean or cluttered office space.

Some of these are quite small things, but, taken together, they can significantly contribute to the stress that people experience.

How to Manage Work Space Stress

There are several things that you can do to lessen or eliminate sources of stress in your workplace. While you can...

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