4 Best Items to Make Your Workplace More Ergonomic

While office work may seem harmless, sitting at a desk all day can be uncomfortable and lead to health issues. If employee workstations aren’t set up properly, staff could experience back and neck pain, tendon problems, headaches and other health problems. Ergonomic workplaces help reduce the risk of injury or discomfort. There are many ergonomic products on the market; here are the four best options.

1. Ergonomic Keyboards

Office workers spend a lot of time using their keyboards, so ergonomic keyboards are a smart investment. Unlike traditional keyboards, ergonomic keyboards have split keysets. This lets employees keep their arms and wrists in a natural position while they type. Some ergonomic keyboards have a separate number pad, so employees can position the pad in a comfortable position. In addition, some of these specialized keyboards have built-in wrist rests for additional comfort.

2. Vertical Mice

For optimum comfort, a computer mouse should keep the user’s wrist in a neutral position. While some of your employees may be satisfied with traditional mice, others may be more comfortable with alternate designs. Vertical mice, also called column mice, keep the user’s hand and wrist straight, rather than bent. While many vertical mice are designed for right-handed use, mirrored versions are available for your left-handed employees. Ambidextrous models, which encourage employees to use both hands throughout the day, are another option to consider.

3. Adjustable Chairs

Since sitting for long periods puts strain on the lower back, it’s important to provide suitable chairs. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety recommends selecting adjustable chairs. Both the seat height and the backrest should be adjustable for employee comfort. It’s important to note that adjustable chairs aren’t one size fits all. A chair that is suitable for a short employee may not be suitable for a tall employee and vice versa. If possible, allow your employees to select their own chairs.

4. Monitor Mounts

Computer monitors that are too high or too low can cause neck discomfort for your employees. Monitor mounts are an affordable solution to this ergonomic problem. These mounts let your employees raise or lower their monitors to a position they find comfortable. With a monitor mount, it’s also easy for employees to quickly tilt their screens to reduce glare.

By investing in ergonomic office products, you can help your employees stay comfortable during the workday.

Getting Your Best Sleep on a Busy Schedule

A busy lifestyle can cut into your sleep time, leaving you feeling tired during the day. However, that doesn’t have to be case. There are a number of things you can do to improve the quality of sleep you enjoy, even if you do have to work it in around a hectic lifestyle.

Improve Sleep Quality

You can get a jump start on a good night’s sleep by doing some transitional things after work or before you go to bed. These things include:

  • Incorporate a short yoga session, soothing stretches, meditation or taking a walk after work. This helps you let go of the day’s stresses so you transition from work to private time and finally to bedtime.
  • Install light-blocking window coverings or wear an eye mask. This is especially helpful if you’re a shift worker who doesn’t get to sleep when it’s dark or if you live in an area where there’s a light source outside your window.
  • Set up an ambient noise machine or wear earplugs to block out noise if you live somewhere that’s not quiet when you need to rest. That way, neighbours, family members, traffic and pets aren’t keeping you awake with excess noise.

Enjoy a Good Nap

When you don’t get a full night’s sleep, your energy may crash during the day, but a nap can turn that drop in energy into a positive thing. A nap after lunch, ranging in length from 20 minutes to one hour, offers rejuvenating benefits. It also helps make up for reduced night-time sleep. Choose a comfortable spot where you won’t be interrupted during your nap. Use some of the techniques that improve night-time sleep quality, such as wearing a mask to block light and turning on soft music to block noise.

Sleep is more than a luxury, it’s a necessity, and sleeping well can be part of the difference between delivering an average performance at work and being a high achiever. When you enjoy quality sleep, whether in one long night-time session or by taking a nap after lunch, it increases your ability to function at peak performance levels.

4 Tips for Being Aware of Your Stress Level… and Reducing It

Being Aware of Your Stress

Stress is emotional and mental pain resulting from adverse circumstances. Everyone experiences stress from time to time. It’s normal. But it can get out of control and cause serious problems. It’s important to monitor your stress levels and watch out for signs such as headaches, acne, chronic pain, poor general health, fatigue, lower libido, digestive problems, poor appetite, depressive moods, rapid heartbeats and uncontrollable sweating.

If your stress becomes unmanageable, seek the services of professionals, such as licensed mental health counsellors, social workers, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists. Also, there are steps you can take to reduce your stress. Let’s take a look at four important ones.

1. Breathing Exercises

Stress-relief breathing is one of the quickest and easiest ways of reducing your stress level in any situation. These breathing exercises reverse your physiological response to a stressful situation by relaxing your body and mind. They’re great for relieving chronic stress, promoting clear thinking and reducing overall stress.

Take a five-minute break and pay attention to your breathing. Close your eyes and sit up straight with a hand on your belly. Gently inhale via your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and proceed up to your head. Reverse the process as you breathe out through your mouth.

2. Exercising

Exercising reduces stress and promotes overall wellness. In addition to stress relief, regular workouts help you manage your weight and improve your longevity. Exercise is highly effective at reducing stress because:

  • It’s a physical outlet for frustrations and stress.
  • It distracts you from stressful thoughts.
  • It gives you a natural endorphin high.
  • It improves your mental wellness in the long term.

3. Adopting an Optimistic Perspective

Research shows that optimism reduces stress. When exposed to the same stressful situations, optimists tend to be less reactive than pessimists because optimists interpret challenges and threats as opportunities. Optimists are also more likely to believe that they have the power to change their situations.

4. Meditating Regularly

Meditation has a variety of benefits, one of them being stress reduction. Taking a few minutes to meditate can center you in the present, pushing away worries about the future and regrets about the past. Like optimism, meditation can shift your perspective of a stressful situation and help you identify opportunities rather than fixate on seemingly insurmountable difficulties.

Ways to Get to Know Your Customers Better

The Business Development Bank of Canada suggests that all customers are not equal. While it’s important to treat all business connections with deference, it’s vital that you identify your top customers and give them most of your attention because they are likely the ones filling your coffers. Try to group your top clients by gross margin impact, then sort them into categories by geography, demographics and preferences. This type of analysis lets you develop targeted marketing strategies and research that produces insights beneficial to you and your customers.

Turn Negative Reviews into Repeat Customers

According to Inc. magazine, a personal touch often wins back disgruntled customers. Sometimes, picking up the phone and making a connection helps the customer realize that there are caring people behind your company’s logo. It’s also a great way to find out more about what matters to consumers and how you can better meet their needs.

Learn More About Your B2B Customers

Finding out why your B2B clients went into business gives you valuable insight into their ultimate goals and motivations. Here are a few essential questions you can use to suss this out via a survey or, better yet, a quick phone call:

  • How did they get started in their business?
  • Why do they believe their product or service is superior to competitors?
  • Why is their offering better than their competitors?
  • How can you make their lives easier?

Keep your objectives in mind throughout this discovery process. At the end of the day, you are collecting business intelligence to improve or expand your product line and make more money.

Create a Customer Advisory Board

According to Small Business BC, you can get to know your customers by including them in the process. This approach may work best for larger businesses that provide products and services directly to the public, such as schools suppliers, subcontractors for municipalities, commercial developers and transportation businesses. Here are some ideas for whom to include on your advisory board:

  • Current Customers. Choose a group of excellent customers to provide valuable product feedback.
  • Potential Customers. Find out why they don’t use your products yet.
  • Agents/Distributors. Include agents or distributors so they’re tuned in to customer needs.
  • Investors. Investors may have important insights into current market trends.
  • Strategic partners. Any business that serves the same market segment, such as suppliers, can be considered as strategic partners.

Whether you choose to approach this challenge from a personal or technological perspective, getting to know your customers better is the key to providing them with products and services they want and fatten up your revenue stream at the same time.

9 Ways to Think Like an Explorer

Each year, Yukoners celebrate Heritage Day on the third Friday in February. It’s been a holiday for government workers in the Yukon since 1976. In 2015, Nova Scotia became the seventh province to legislate a paid holiday in February. Nova Scotia uses the day to celebrate important places, events and individuals in its history and picks a new person of interest every year.

In honour of Canada’s great adventurers, this article looks at how you can incorporate the spirit of an explorer in your operations.

Unleash Your Inner Explorer

Being an explorer in business terms is synonymous with embracing an entrepreneurial spirit in everything you do. It embodies a can-do attitude that empowers business owners and managers to create something new for the benefit of everyone in the enterprise. Here are some tips that can help you unleash your inner explorer:

  • Use the left and right hemispheres of your brain to analyze and react quickly to new opportunities.
  • Break habits and routines by thinking beyond boundaries and limitations to see the full potential of a project or investment.
  • Avoid making assumptions that lead to negative thoughts, which sap your energy and erode your confidence.

Ambiguity can lead to indecisiveness, but narrow definitions stifle the imagination. Cultivate ambiguity by reading or participating in activities outside your comfort zone. This can give you a fresh perspective when it comes to business decisions.

Learn from Customers Forging New Paths with Your Products

Sometimes, you can find explorers among your own customers. These forward-thinkers can help you realize new usage patterns that can lead to growth or cost savings. They may have some suggestions for product and service enhancements that fulfill their needs and add revenue to your bottom line. You can find adventurous customers among those who:

  • Use your product in a unique way
  • Derive value from your product that contributes to their gross margin
  • Care about a product characteristic that implies a possible niche for your product
  • Need much less or much more service and attention than average
  • Use your product in a new product for resale
  • Use your product in a location your sales channel doesn’t serve

Partner with these customers and explore opportunities to expand your market even further. You may be able to realize economies of scale that save both companies money. Most of all, dare to be daring if it’s something that can help your business grow.

3 Tips for Beating the Winter Blues in Your Workplace

Keeping your spirits up in the dark winter months can be a trying task for many people in the workplace. The lack of sunshine and frequent cold and stormy weather can reduce workplace efficiency. Staying healthy is a top priority to avoid dry throats and colds during this season. Finding small ways to boost morale can go a long way to improving productivity in the cold dark months.

Add More Greenery to Your Workplace

According to a several studies, there were significant changes shown by office workers who had plants nearby and those that didn’t. Concerns like difficulty concentrating, fatigue and an increase in sore throats and coughs were present when the plants were removed from the workers. Plants purify stale air by absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen. Fresh oxygen in a closed office can help workers breathe freely and fight off colds. Try using office-friendly plants such as spider plants, philodendron and lemon balm.

Increase the Lighting

There is a literal lack of sunlight during the winter months, which can negatively impact efficient workflow. As there are fewer and fewer daylight hours in the winter, employees may end up starting their workday in the dark and leaving in the dark. This can cause fatigue, low energy and a lowered attention span. Keeping the lights bright in a workplace can help increase productivity. Try adding more lights during these months to encourage a bright and cheery atmosphere. A small lamp on each desk and a bright break area help offset gloom brought on by the dark season.

Break Down Large Tasks and Delegate

Winter blues affect workers in various ways, but one of the most common ways is a lack of attention and fatigue. This reduces productivity and efficiency. Bounce back by breaking large projects down into smaller ones, and delegating tasks to workers. Giving your workers small tasks to do makes it easier for large projects to get accomplished, and completing a small concise list of tasks recharges the brain and improves productivity. Delegating tasks to employees encourages a busy and efficient workspace. Workers gain in confidence and workplace moral increases when they are given responsibilities.

10 Mid-Afternoon Pick-Me-Ups That Won’t Let You Down

If you get sleepy or lethargic around two in the afternoon, you’re in good company. Many people experience a mid-afternoon slump due to any number of reasons, from eating the wrong thing at lunch to spending too much time in a chair. But unless you have the luxury of taking a nap, finding ways to recharge is essential if you want a productive afternoon. Try these 10 pick-me-ups, and see how easy it is to reboot your energy and make the most of the rest of your day.

Drink Up
Sluggishness is often the result of being dehydrated. In fact, if the body loses just two percent of its water, feelings of fatigue can set in. When mid-afternoon hits, turn to the best hydrator around: water. Fill a tall glass with cool, fresh water and keep it nearby throughout the afternoon, sipping regularly for a boost of energy.

Cool Off
Heat and humidity cause a rise in body temperature, making it hard to stay alert. If you’re working in a warm room after lunch, open a window or turn on a fan to cool off. Remove your sweater or suit jacket if that offers relief. Or, try spritzing with a facial mist. The cooling sensation will refresh and re-energize you.

Grab Your Pet
Spending time with your furry companion is both therapeutic and invigorating — and a great activity for a mid-afternoon break. Play a game, have a grooming session, do some obedience training, or just talk to your pet. You’ll both benefit from the experience and be ready and rejuvenated to tackle whatever comes next on the schedule.

Switch Tasks
A boring or tedious task could be a contributing factor of mid-afternoon fatigue. If possible, set aside what you’re doing and switch to a different task for a refreshing diversion. Giving yourself something new to focus on, even if temporary, can provide the burst of adrenaline you need to perk up your mind and body.

Eat Some Energy
While certain foods can weigh you down and make you sleepy, others can revitalize you. If you ate heavy carbs at lunch, for example, you’ll likely feel drained within a few hours. Reach for an energizing snack to counter the effect. A tablespoon of peanut butter on whole grain crackers or a handful of almonds will do the trick.

Converse with an Optimist
Ever notice how optimists energize you? Conversing with someone who exudes positivity can be the perfect antidote to a mid-afternoon slump because it will boost your mood and inspire you. Take a break and call a cheerful friend or family member or visit with a half-glass-full co-worker for some stimulating conversation.

Bend and Stretch
Rejuvenating the body and mind in the middle of the afternoon can be as simple as a stretch. That’s because stretching and bending increase blood flow and activate the nervous system. Take your stretching session a step further and do some yoga poses; yoga has been shown to fight fatigue and encourage vitality.

Walk the Block
While going for a walk may be the last thing you want to do if you’re feeling tired, it’s an effective way to get energized — and you don’t have to do it for very long. Short bursts of exercise awaken the body and mind and can keep you alert for hours. Instead of lowering your head on the desk, take a brisk walk around the block.

Plug In a Song
Music has the power to heal all kinds of health problems, from stress to poor blood vessel function, thanks to its ability to stimulate the brain. But music can also curb boredom and fatigue, which lead to sleepiness. When mid-afternoon hits, plug in your favorite upbeat songs and hum the mid-afternoon yawns away in no time.

Laugh
Research has shown that a good laugh releases endorphins in the body. Endorphins enhance your mood and give you an overall uplifted, invigorating feeling. Simple ideas for mid-afternoon humour? Read the comics in the paper, search for jokes online, or have a good old-fashioned laugh with a coworker.

Don’t let the mid-afternoon slump affect the rest of your day. Try the above pick-me-ups when sleepiness sets in after lunch, and get pumped for an energizing, productive afternoon.