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3 ways to improve your work space

Americans work more hours than the French, Germans, and many other citizens from industrialized countries, putting in close to 1,800 hours at the office each year, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development.

When your personality shines in your work space, you'll be more comfortable spending time in it.
Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

People typically spend more time with co-workers than they do with family and friends. Each day, we stare at our PCs for hours on end, and acclimate ourselves to a sedentary lifestyle that carries a multitude of health risks.

Your Cubicle Isn't A Cage

It's important to have a work environment that you're comfortable in. It'll improve your quality of life and boost productivity. It may even motivate you to come to work more often.

Here are four tips to make your cubicle (or home desk) more pleasant to be in.

1. Remove "Zombie" Lights

If you can, adjust the lights in your work space to avoid unnecessary eye strain. (You may have to ask for permission, but find out if you can do it.)

Replace harsh, bright light that you would normally find in a public bathroom (i.e., "zombie" light) with softer, more mellow light. Any bulb or lamp you place inside your cubicle should not point directly at your eyes.

Secondly, optimize your screen displays. Adjust the light level on your PC to reduce those irritating strains on your eyes. Most employees have the display brightness at 100 percent, which is way too much.

Monitors that are too bright can give users migraine headaches and sore eyes. Your PC station should have softer display lighting. Also, use font sizes that you can easily read.

2. Humanize Your Office

How would you feel starting the workweek on a Monday morning with a bouquet of fresh, red roses at your desk?

A cubicle isn't meant to be a cage. It shouldn't be designed for robots or automated Frankensteins.

Infuse some humanity by adding color, photos of loved ones, and maybe even some eclectic art. There's value in what you do for clients, and you may want to install posters reminding you of why your work matters to customers.

Do you maintain a garden at home?

Maybe putting plants near your desk will improve your office design. If you're unlikely to water any form of plant life, artificial plants can also work to prevent a desolate-looking cubicle. For example, an artificial boxwood hedge -- a relatively inexpensive bundle of shrubbery -- might look great under a copy Picasso painting.

3. Get a Comfortable Chair

If you're like most employees, you probably spend close to 40 hours a week glued to your chair. It's important to invest in a seat that that gives you comfort while protecting your back.

The design and the height of your chair can have a big impact on how you physically feel while working the phones or checking email. Many office workers develop back pain and spinal problems when they slouch in front of the PC for several hours a day.

When typing on your keyboard, the correct posture is to sit up straight. Get a chair that allows you to do this. Your manager may even be willing to pay for it.

When your personality shines in your work space, you'll be more comfortable spending time in it. And if you use ergonomic equipment, you'll also be protecting your health.

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