Let’s keep things simple. Of course there are tons of tools, office furniture and equipment that you can buy and have lying around in your office. You can spend tons of money and have the latest gadgets. But you can also keep things simple, do it sensimly, and apply the pareto rule: 80/20. Get 80% of benefit from 20% of cost or hassle. In this article, we’ll combine the approach of sensimism, pareto rule and some common sense to get you the biggest bang for not that much money.
Let’s establish some rules / guidelines that will steer us towards our goal.
- We want something practical – something that we can use a lot and continously. Because it will only really have an effect on our health, if we use it frequently. Occasional use is nice, but won’t really show a positive effect on our health – here’s why.
- We want something that’s not too expensive. Because fancy gadgets are cool, but mostly overpriced and end up collecting dust.
- We want something sturdy, that will not break after a few months. Because if it’s good (fits #1 and #2), then we want it to last a veery long time!
- We want to move as much as possible whilst working. Because that’s the trick to a healthier office. The more time you spend moving and changing positions, the better.
The tools… that fit the rules
Let’s start where we spend most of our time in the office – sitting. Doesn’t matter what desk you have, in what environment you are or what fancy laptop you have – you will always spend most of your time sitting whilst using it.
1. First essential item in your healthy office is a good chair. Well – a few of them to be precise!
I have spent the last 10+ years of my life in an office. Sitting for too many hours a day. And I have spent the last 5 years in a home office – working (sitting) from home. I’m assuming that you already have a standard chair, so won’t go into any details there. I’ve been through a variety of chairs and arrangements and this is my favourite, where I spend the most time sitting:
A kneeling chair
I can sit in this one the longest without any back pain. Actually the back is so straight in this chair, that it never hurts. And believe me, in any other chair, my back is not happy after 1 hour of continuous sitting.
As you can see in the picture (source: Amazon.com), the back is very straight. That’s a very good thing! They usually have adjustable height too.
Does it agree with our rules?
- it’s practical, we can use it a lot
- it’s not too expensive – prices start at $50 (the one in the picture costs $119)
- even at that price, it’s pretty sturdy – not many moving parts, not much that can easily break
- can you move on it? Of course! Even more than on a standard chair, as your movement isn’t blocked by armrests or a backrest. You can do exercise / stretching easier this way.
The only negative I have found so far is that your knees might hurt after a couple of hours. I use additional padding (any cushion of foam will do). But hey – that’s just another signal to get up, stretch and move a bit :).
Of course, we want to change our position every hour or so, therefore I suggest to compliment this kneeling chair with:
A fitness ball – big enough to sit on
You’ll find plenty of cheap (from $13) options in your local sports store or at Amazon.com. Added benefit – you can use it for proper exercise in between working, or during any other workout. Plus it’s perfect to put your feet up on the couch later :D.
2. Second essential item for a healthier office – a balance board or stability disc
Great way to completely change your posture – to standing. But not just that – active standing – meaning that your core muscles, butt and thighs will be engaged whilst you go about your business. And you can get the most of the benefit from a simple inflatable stability disc for around $12 (my favourite!) or check out the entire selection – there’s plenty of variety.
Added bonus – you can combine the inflatable stability disc with your kneeling chair to change the way you sit.
3. The third essential item on our healthy home office list is: An adjustable (standing) desk
Makes sense right – if you are going to have chairs that vary in height, plus you want to stand at the desk too – you don’t want to have to buy separate height desks. One is enough, so it better be adjustable in height!
Not to worry, there’s plenty to choose from. You can either pick an extension / standing desk converter that will just add height to your existing table (although that doesn’t offer the full range of height as other desks). If you want full flexibility, you can pick a whole new desk that you can adjust to whatever height you please.
My favourite is this fella, that you can split into more levels / heights + it has a strip to stop your keyboard from falling :). And of course, it’s also very economical.
Of course, if you prefer something with higher specifications – there’s a whole store for you. Choose from electric / crank / wooden / flat top / multi-level – whichever works best for you. Prices start around $80.
With this added flexibility, you can keep changing your posture every half an hour if you fancy so. Your back will be grateful!
I also prefer manual desks with a lever to electrical ones – they are cheaper and there’s no need for such luxury. The only disadvantage of manual adjustable height desks is that they can be a bit more wobbly than their more robust (and more expensive) electric alternatives. But that’s fine details – they aren’t as wobbly to make your coffee dance around the table, they just move a little if you lean on them. No big deal I think, but it’s up to you :).
There – three pieces of office equipment that will ensure that even the time spent sitting is not as unhealthy as it usually is. With an investment starting somewhere at $160, you can have a fully equipped office that keeps you moving.
4. Last essential active home office item: A doorway pull up bar
For the moments you are not sitting and working – it’s good to do some proper exercise.
We should spend at least X minutes a day hanging. This little helper will enable you to not only hang around healthily… but also build up quite some upper body strength…
No need to go fancy – a simple doorway pull up bar will do, easy to install and does all you need from it.