There are two sides to the writer debate – those who require certain comforts and those who can write in the middle of a toxic dump. I’d argue both types are just as likely to have hazardous work environments. Your office could be making you sick, or at the very least, decreasing your productivity. The good news is there simple way to creating a safe and healthy work environment.
1. Trouble in the Air
The information is scary: according to the August 2000 EPA Indoor Environments Division, Indoor Air Quality and Student Performance report, “Indoor air quality can reduce a person’s ability to perform specific mental tasks requiring concentration, calculation, or memory.” While this specific report discusses students in school, the same can be said for those who require mental acrobatics to earn a paycheck. The solution?
1. Air filtration appliances. Units are available at every price point and are especially helpful for those who have basement offices.
3.Get a plant or two. Certain plants suck the toxins of the air. Common chemicals from building materials – formaldehyde, benzene, etc. could be doing a conga line around your desk. Pick up a peace lily and park it in your space.
4. Open a window. Simple right? Nature’s filtration system.
Hunched over a keyboard typing away…that’s how writers are supposed to be right? Not unless you want a chiropractor to become your best friend. Poor typing habits are hard to break, but buying ergonomic furniture and aids; practicing good posture and workstation alignment and taking breaks will help prevent costly problems like back injuries and eye strain.
An obvious solution, but one many of us overlook. When’s the last time you cleaned underneath the lampshade or vacuumed your keyboard? Simply wiping up crumbs isn’t enough to keep your office safe.
- Dust and or sweep with a moist cloth to protect from launching dustbunnies into the air.
- Use a vacuum with a Hepa filter and clean the bag or canister outside.
- Use natural cleaning products like white vinegar to cut down on unknown pollutants in commercial cleaning supplies.
- Rugs should be cleaned regularly. If you are in cold weather, wait for a snowy day, haul the rug out and let it sit outside for an hour, once the rug is cold drop it on clean snow and beat it with a broom. Flip it over and beat it some more. The cold will help kill germs and the snow helps clean the fibers without soaking them and damaging the rug. *This is not absolute rug advice, if your rug is expensive or has been in your family for 100 years then hire a professional, don’t try to sue me!*
Kooky chemicals are everywhere, but greener alternatives to traditional inks, papers, etc. are readily available at great prices online and at local office supply stores. Recycled paper, soy ink, glass, metal or wood office organizers from sustainable sources promotes healthy business practices out in the world and at home.
So, after buying a weeping fig plant, stocking up on bamboo office accessories and using that odd vacuum cleaner attachment on the back of the computer monitor all’s well in the world right?
I have seen some truly horrific home offices. Neat, clean and completely devoid of any warmth. A desk, chair and wall calendar does not make an office. Infuse some personality into your space. Warm, inviting work areas boosts productivity and overall well being.
Even if funds are tight, cheap and inspiring art can be made by simply framing some of your published pieces. Those clips are accomplishments whether for Time Magazine or Paper Clips Monthly.com. Don’t forget pictures of your family or dog and your ticket stub from that killer concert as well.
Writers spend countless hours in their office meeting deadlines, it is a worthwhile investment to create a space that is inviting, productive and safe. After all, you can’t beat a deadline if your dead.
What do you love about your home office? How can you improve it?