Ideas for creating a productive & healthy workspace

Many of us working in technology, startups, financial services, etc., spend in the neighborhood of 8 to 14 hours sitting at our desks every day. Not only do we sit in front of (or under) the computer for work projects, but we also use the computer for our personal lives as well — researching our next vacation, paying bills, buying movie tickets, watching Netflix, and so on. That adds up to a lot of sitting, and it doesn’t include time spent in your car commuting, eating meals, watching TV, and other sedentary activities. So what’s wrong with all that sitting? Unfortunately, a lot.

Sitting 6+ hours per day makes you up to 40% likelier to die within 15 years…even if you exercise.

Here at glassCanopy, our team has developed some strategies to optimize productivity without sacrificing our health.

Are you going to take that sitting down?

melanieThe standing desk. This idea is rapidly gaining popularity (although not with everyone). Our colleague Melanie can often be found standing at her desk. While she initially had some aches, she found that bracing one foot up on something sturdy made all the difference. Now, she’s more comfortable and secretly content knowing she’s burning more calories per hour than the rest of us chair potatoes.

Here are a few other alternatives to a standing desk:

  • Try a treadmill desk. This is probably the healthiest choice, as you’re not just standing, but moving your legs constantly. However, it does seem like it might be harder to type, and placing the cursor would be a real challenge! Plus, it’s probably a little unnerving for others if you start to pant during a conference call…farm
  • Sit on a ball. Sitting on a large exercise ball might make you look like you’re perpetually laying an egg, but it also keeps you moving a bit more as you retain balance and adjust. And it can help encourage better posture.
  • Become a farmer.

Ergonomics either way. 
Be sure that no matter which sitting or standing method you go with, you’ve got all of your equipment set up so that you don’t need to slouch or bend your neck at odd angles.

Whether you sit or stand, if you are a sedentary worker, it’s highly recommended that you get up from your chair often and move around, stretch, climb a flight of stairs, etc. Taking 2 minutes away from your chair may give you the spark you need to finish a project or come up with an idea. I know I always do my best thinking when I’m moving.

Going into a meeting? Why not grab your colleague, client, or the phone and walk while you talk. Not always feasible, but when it works, your meetings will most likely be more productive. And if you’re the extreme type, you could always try the hilarious James Hamblin running meeting.

running meeting

Still need more reason to get out of that chair? Check out this somewhat depressing info graphic for additional information on the problems of sitting, tips for how to sit better and a few other alternatives to sitting all together.

Surround yourself.

plantsColor, plants, how you paint the walls, what’s on the walls, how much clutter is on your desk — all of this can make a subtle (but major!) difference in how you feel while you’re working.

The glassCanopy office could be mistaken for a conservatory, as it is filled with lush, living green things. We’re an active, outdoorsy bunch, so bringing the outside in has been invigorating for us all.

Give yourself permission to spend some quality time making your space as comfortable and inspiring as you need. Consider it an investment.


Somewhere along the line, a productivity expert decided 68 degrees fahrenheit or lower was the optimal temperature for office environments. I hope that guy is locked in a freezer some day. If you’re always chilly, a small heater next to your desk can make all the difference in your ability to concentrate, and keep your fingers from getting too stiff with cold to type. Or tell the chief officer of heating and cooling that you promise to make up for the lost productivity of those few extra degrees with caffeine and sugar.

Or cite research from Cornell noting that temperatures below 68 degrees cause increased errors and lost productivity.

Here, Daniel demonstrates his orderly desk for an orderly mind — and, more importantly, a purple sweater to combat the ever present chill.

raised monitorLighting. 
According to a study cited in Psychology Today, Exposure to Natural Light Improves Workplace Performance. Natural daylight is the best choice of lighting. Unfortunately, not all architects and designers have supported that idea and many building recesses are dark. To combat the sterile fluorescents that which most offices are equipped, a warm light lamp can cheer up your space. More scientifically stated, a light box that emits UV light can help combat the effects of lack of exposure to natural light.

As efficiency expert Andrew Jensen points out, “With light being a key component of vision, and vision being responsible for 80 to 85 percent of our perception of the world around us, it’s not difficult to see why ignoring proper lighting strategies in your office could have a significant negative impact on productivity.”

Here’s my ‘corner office’ with plentiful natural light, backup lamp for winter and evenings, in addition to a sitting ball and a raised monitor to avoid neck strain. I don’t mess around.

These are just some ways we make our office feel more inviting. How do you make your workspace productive and healthy? Let us know in the comments!

You may also like

Leave a comment

B2B Content Marketing: A How-To Guide

Please provide your business email and we will send you this ebook.