How the positioning of your desk is key to professional and personal success.
When placing a desk in our homes, we may think about what color we want, how big it is or will it be height adjustable? Those are all important, but how often do we think about the view we will have when working at that desk? Although it sounds random and unrelated, it could be the key to avoiding headaches, dry eyes, burn-out and increasing problem-solving abilities and overall productivity.
There is a limit to how much time we humans can sit at a desk and stare at a digital screen before we begin to strain our eyes. It’s called computer vision syndrome (CVS). In a study published by the Nepalese Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers examined computer use and its effects on the eyes of university students in Malaysia. "Almost 90 percent of the 795 students had symptoms of CVS after just two continuous hours of computer usage."
To help avoid conditions such as eye strain, we will want to take micro-breaks throughout the day consisting of views that are at least 20+ feet away. It's called the 20-20-20 rule made popular by Terrapin Bright Green. For every 20 minutes worked, we will want to look up from our computer and view something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. That will enable the muscles in our eyes to relax, recharge and refocus when the time comes.
Ideally, the long distance view includes a window looking outdoors onto nature.
A recent study found the quality of a person’s view to be the primary predictor of absenteeism in an office setting. Those who had a view to nature showed that people’s access to natural scenery is significantly correlated to their job satisfaction, health, and productivity.
Studies have also shown that when looking out onto a green landscape rather than concrete 40 seconds, participants in the study performed better at problem solving tasks. Other studies have shown, that views onto nature enables us to recover from stressful situations quicker and improve overall health and perceived wellbeing.
Be careful though, although sitting in front of a window may sound ideal, depending on the position of the window relative to the sun, it can result in glare and make our eyes have to work even harder to look at the screen. Sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. We should ideally be positioning our desk to maximize our views in our periphery or side vision. Even though it is off to the side, we will still perceive small changes in weather conditions, positions of the sun throughout the day and any nature such as birds or leaves moving in a breeze. All of those things will actually enable us to be more focused and productive throughout the day.
Having a proper desk to work at is a key component to a highly productive workspace. We simply need to remember that the placement of that desk and the views during our critical micro-break are key to ensuring the best possible outcomes for both work and personal well-being.