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Reduce Eye Strain

 

A 2013 survey conducted by The Vision Council reports that Americans on average spend six to nine hours a day in front of digital devices, and the percentage of adults spending 10 or more hours in front of screens rose 4 percent in the last year. Nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults experience digital eye strain as a result of the growing use of these devices.  I don’t know about you, but I spend a good portion of my day in front of something digital!  I decided to find out a little more about eye strain because I have been experiencing it firsthand.

Eye strain is a symptom, not an eye disease.  It occurs when your eyes get tired from intense use, like driving a car for a long time, reading, or working on the computer.  Basically, any discomfort caused by looking at something for a long time is called eye strain.  Even though eye strain is annoying, it usually isn’t serious and will go away once you rest your eyes.

The most common symptoms of eye strain are sore or irritated eyes, difficulty focusing, dry or watery eyes, blurred or double vision, increased sensitivity to light and headache or brow-ache. These symptoms may be accompanied by pain in the neck, shoulders or back due to holding a bad posture for a prolonged period of time.

So, let’s get down to the important stuff.  How can you prevent eye strain?  There are several things you can do in your work environment to reduce eye strain.

  • Follow a 20-20-20 rule.  Look away every 20 minutes (preferably to the horizon), at least 20 feet in front of you, for 20 seconds.
  • Put a post-it note on your computer that says blink.  Blinking helps to rehydrate your eyes.
  • Take regular breaks from computer work.
  • Place your computer screen 20-26 inches away from your eyes and little below eye level.  Also make sure your screen can tilt and swivel.
  • Clean off dust and fingerprints from your screen.  Smudges reduce contrast and can create reflections and glare.
  • Put a document holder next to your computer screen.
  • Use artificial tears to refresh eyes when they feel dry.
  • Adjust lighting to reduce glare and harsh reflections.  Avoid lighting directly behind or above a computer screen.

I’m planning on making adjustments to my workstation according to these suggestions.  Have you successfully tried anything that has helped reduce eye strain?

Reception Desks

Your reception area may be the most important space in your office.  This is where first impressions are made.  It is important to think about what kind of image you want to create for your company and do it well.

While it is key to create a great look, you also need to make sure the space is functional for your receptionist.  What kind of tasks will he/she be performing?  How much space will be needed?  Do you need to “hide” their desk top?  Is a transaction work surface necessary for clients to sign, make payments, etc.

At New Life Office we have a variety of solutions for your reception desk needs.  If you are looking for a free standing desk with a transaction top, we have contemporary and traditional options.

Our contemporary reception desk is great for small spaces like salons that do not require a lot of desk top room.

For a more traditional look, we have our bowfront cherry reception desk.  This desk offers plenty of room for a computer, work area and storage.  The beautiful cherry finish creates a rich, warm feel to any space.

By far our most popular option is our modular reception station.  By building a reception station with panels and worksurfaces, the sky is really the limit.  You can customize to any size and can create the right shape and size to accommodate your receptionist and space.  You also have the option to customize your panel fabric pattern, worksurface finishes and paint colors.  Another perk to modular reception stations is the flexibility to reconfigure in the future.  If you move to another space or need to change things around in your current space, it is easy to add on to and make those changes.

Make a Better Impression on the Phone

Do you ever find yourself imagining what the person on the other end of the phone line looks like?  I’ll admit I do.  In fact, I once had a customer service rep that I frequently spoke with and had quite the image conjured up.  She was so ornery and put out on the phone that I imagined her looking just like the lady in the Maxine cartoons!  How do you come across on the phone?  Did you know there are things you can do to sound more friendly and energetic?

I was told a while back that you should always stand while talking on the phone.  This really caught my interest and as I looked into it I found out that standing makes your voice appear much stronger and more energetic.  Standing can also make you sound more convincing and determined.  If your circumstances do not allow you to stand, try to sit alert with your back straight and feet on the floor.  I thought this made sense, who wants to sound like a slouch?

Have you ever noticed call stations that have mirrors hanging in them?  I have, but never thought about why (a little vain, maybe?)  Come to find out the mirrors are there to encourage callers to smile while on the phone.  When we smile our voices naturally become friendlier, brighter and warmer.  The person on the other end of the conversation will perceive you as being polite and well intended.

Another way to come off friendly and attentive is to use the caller’s name.  If they give their name at the beginning of the conversation, be sure to write it down and use it.  This personal touch will help you be perceived friendly and attentive towards other’s needs.

I plan on implementing these phone tips right away!  I hope you find them helpful too.  Do you have any other tips to make a great impression on the phone?

Tables for Training Spaces

If you are planning a new training space, or trying to better your current facility, New Life Office has the perfect training tables for you.  We carry a variety of chairs and tables that can be easily moved, perfect for rearranging rooms to meet each meeting’s needs.

This 24X60 Folding Table with Casters is perfect for spaces that need to have some flexibility.  You can easily move the tables around from uniform class room style meetings to a u-shape interactive meeting.  They can easily be folded up and moved to a storage space when fewer tables are needed.  The folding tables are also great for those spaces that cannot be dedicated to training only.

If your facility has a room or floor set aside for training only, you might want to consider one of our training tables with a fixed base or legs.  These tables can still be moved around to meet your training needs.  However, they are not as easy to put into storage.

The typical training table sizes are 24X48, 24X60 or 24X72.  Maple and Cherry are our stock finishes and you always have the option to pick a custom laminate to coordinate with your color scheme.  Our project managers/space planners at New Life Office are happy to measure your space and help you create the perfect layout to meet all of your training needs.

Office Cubicles – One Size Does Not Fit All

When starting a new business, relocating your existing business or just re-evaluating your needs, it is important to remember that cubicles aren’t one size fits all.  It is paramount you consider tasks each employee must perform and the amount of work space and storage needed.  Another important thing to consider is if privacy is needed or do employees need more of a team environment for collaboration?

Let us briefly explore some of the workstation options available at New Life Office.  Keep in mind most businesses need a combination of different workstations to meet the needs of their employees.

First up, let’s talk about a traditional L-shape cubicle surrounded by 65” high panels.   You can create a cubicle in any size from a 6X6 to 8X8 and anything in between.  A cubicle surrounded by panels is great for employees who are on the phone quite a bit and in need of privacy.  The acoustical panels will absorb noise as well as create privacy for sensitive materials on computer screens.

Private Layout

There are different things you can do to open up a private cubicle if you are wanting a more open look and feel.  You can remove wing panels  and configure workstations in more of a U configuration.  You can also drop down to 53” high panels, which will still absorb sound and make an area feel more open.

Open Layout

 

Open Layout w/ Half Round

The next type of workstation I want to talk about is a call center station or telemarketing station.  Employees in this type of space typically have a computer and phone without much need for storage.  Call stations are typically 42” to 60” long.  53” high panels are usually used so employees can be supervised easily and sound can be absorbed.

Call Station

More and more we are seeing a need for collaborative workstations like benching stations or shared workstations.  These types of desks are great for creating an environment where team members can easily bounce ideas off of one another and work together.

Benching Workstation

L-Shaped Free Standing Workstation

The last type of workstation I want to touch on is the private office.  Sometimes a private office is surrounded by panels, sometimes it is four walls and a door.  Either way, it is important to take into account what type of atmosphere needs to be created as well as the amount of space needed for tasks.  For instance, if the space is for a manager that will have other employees in office frequently, it is important to have a desk front that guests can pull up to such as a bullet or p-table shape.  You will also need to take into consideration the shape of workstation needed and size of space available.  Will an L-shape configuration  be sufficient or would a U-shape desk be more accommodating.

L-Shaped Bullet Desk

P-Table U-shape desk

I hope this has given you a little food for thought.  Our project managers and space planners at New Life Office are happy to help you weigh the options of different workstations and assist you in finding the perfect fit for your employees and their needs.

Perks of a Walking Meeting

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Now that we are seeing some nice Spring-like weather, I am in love with the idea of a walking meeting.  If you think about it, walking helps to increase productivity and will help your team members to be more alert and energized!

Just think of how your creativity will flow as your team begins walking outside, enjoying fresh air and natural light.  As you explore different environments your team will most certainly be inspired with new ideas.  Of course, some added benefits will be your enhanced physical and mental well being!

A walking meeting can also be a good team building experience.  Naturally, as you walk several conversations will begin to take place and team members can move around easily to converse with one another.  By walking side by side some of the “office ranking” is forgotten and people are more at ease.

I hope you will make your next meeting a walking meeting!  Your team will enjoy something new and will truly benefit from a few minutes out of their office chairs.

5 Office Etiquette Rules

Over the years I have written my share of posts about Office Etiquette. You may ask why beat a dead horse? Let’s face it, we all need a constant reminder of what is appropriate behavior in the office. I know, some people need a daily reminder.

 

I ran into a brilliant article on Moneywatch at cbs.com where Amy Levin-Epstein shares 5 rules of exemplary office etiquette. These rules are a little different than the typical don’t eat stinky food in your cubicle, so they really stood out to me.

 

Follow The Golden Rule  In the office and in the schoolyard, nobody likes — or truly respects — a bully. “You should never use your position of power as a platform for bullying your team. Not only will you lose the loyalty of your staff, but you will find yourself in a real bind someday when one of your employees becomes your boss. And it will happen,” says New York-based manners expert Thomas P. Farley, editor of Modern Manners: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Social Graces.

 

Dress With Respect  You’ve heard that you should dress for the job you want. But if you’re not sure what to wear to a new job or an event, dress up, not down. “Being overdressed is better than being under-dressed any day because you can always eliminate certain clothes like a jacket or a tie,” says Whitmore.

 

Don’t Forget Special Occasions  Even if your day is packed, take a second to savor a slice of celebratory cake in the conference room. “You’d be surprised at how much a little ‘happy birthday’ can mean to the people you see day in and day out. It proves that you see them as a colleague rather than a fellow drone,” says Farley.

 

Tame Your Technology  Silent, vibrate, or something simple and soft — these are your three options for your phone ring setting. “Stay away from cute and quirky ring tones that may get on others’ nerves,” says Whitmore. And, of course, never let your phone interrupt a person or meeting.

 

Practice Email Etiquette  Nowhere are bad manners more rampant than in the world of email — and a slip of the button can be much more damaging, and permanent, than a slip of the tongue. Here are four rules that Whitmore suggests following: Use spell check. Don’t send large attachments. Always change the subject line to fit a new email. And finally, respond to messages (by email or phone) within 24 hours.

 

According to Jacqueline Whitmore, founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, Inc. and author of the upcoming book, Poised For Success, “Good business behavior will set you apart from the competition. When you are mindful of your behavior and the feelings of others, you will be more likable and promotable.” Definitely some great food for thought!

 

Getting More Done in the Office

Are you a productive employee? If you are like me, you spend half of your day sidetracked from the task you should really be doing or trying to multi-task and not really completing anything. If you could use a little guidance on how to make the most out of your day, here is some great advice on how to get more done at work from U.S.News.com.

 

Take breaks. It’s tempting just to sit at your desk all day, but you’ll find yourself far less energized. A simple five-minute walk will help clear your head and enable you to restart your work with a fresh approach. “It helps the blood flow,” Wendleton says. Marla Tabaka, a business coach and strategist, says your brain needs a break of some sort every two hours. “It’s a good idea to get up, stretch, go to the water cooler, and then get back to work,” she says. “Just try to keep your breaks to five minutes.”

 

Prioritize. Once in the morning and then again in the middle of the day, take a step back and examine if your efforts are focused on the right projects. “You need to ask yourself, ‘Am I working on the most important thing I can be working on?’” Wendleton says. If you want to save time, make a to-do list the night before and then update it in the afternoon. “You need to ensure you’re working on things that are important to the company,” Wendleton says. The more important your work is, the more valuable you are as an employee.

 

Set long-term goals. “Too many people get caught up in the day-to-day things that need to be done—the recent email that came in, the phone call that just came in—and then they really don’t get anything done that’s significant because they’re just fighting fires,” Wendleton says. Develop two big-picture things that you want to accomplish throughout the year and post them next to your computer as a reminder.

 

Start your day earlier. If you can, get to work early, when people aren’t there to distract you. “You’ll get so much more done,” Wendleton says. An empty office means no one will be bothering you with questions and taking time away from your work.

 

Surf the Web—occasionally. Web browsing can actually refresh tired workers and enhance their productivity, compared with other activities such as making personal calls, texts, or emails, according to a study released last year by the National University of Singapore. The study found that taking intermittent breaks from tasks to surf the Web and visit your favorite sites can help you focus more when you go back to work.

 

Don’t multitask. Focus is key. “These people who think that they can multitask are wrong,” Wendleton says. Focus on one thing, get it done, and move on. “The people who are able to focus and get something done well are the people who are most productive,” she says.

Multitasking will eat up 40 percent of your workday, Tabaka says. “Employers want people who can focus,” she says. Instead, block out time to do certain tasks. “You’re not putting things off—you’re scheduling things,” Tabaka says.

 

Meditate. It gives you the ability to let go of the stress. While you’re meditating, Tabaka suggests visualizing what you want your ideal day to look like. “That’ll get you one step closer to creating that ideal day,” she says. Tabaka adds that meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting in a still position and humming; you simply need to do something that relaxes you.

 

Snack right. Snacks should be high in protein and high in fiber. “Don’t limit your snacks to just one food group,” says nutritionist Heather Bauer, author of The Wall Street Diet. For example, if you’re going to snack on a piece of fruit, add some peanut butter for energy and two pieces of high-fiber bran crisp bread. Or pair a handful of high-fiber cereal with a flavored Greek yogurt. Noshing on pretzels and chips? They’re full of simple sugars that create a quick rise in blood sugar levels, but they aren’t good for the long haul. “This is ideal for a moment, but then you end up feeling hungry and tired 20 minutes later,” Bauer says.

 

Power nap. A number of medical studies have shown that short napping in the early afternoon increases a person’s productivity, alertness, and sometimes even their mood. “A very short, regenerative nap can help you channel your energy and refocus,” Tabaka says. Just be sure not to sleep for more than 15 to 20 minutes. Otherwise, it could create problems with your boss.

 

Counter interruptions. You must have a strategy for dealing with interruptions. Caroline Ceniza-Levine of New York career coaching firm SixFigureStart says, “When someone comes in, all of your strategies shouldn’t go out the window.” If a colleague comes in and asks for a minute, you can say, “Not right now. Send me an email, and we’ll set up some time.”

 

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Helpful Hints for Spring Cleaning Your Workplace

Spring is finally here! If you are on the ball, you have probably already started spring cleaning around your home (or at least thought about it.) Today’s big question is, have you thought about spring cleaning your office?

 

If you think about how many hours you spend in the office each year, I’m sure you will come to the conclusion that a clean office is just as important as a clean home! In fact, numerous research studies have shown that a clean, organized office environment leads to healthier, more productive employees.

 

As I was doing a little research on spring cleaning your office, I found some great tips from nationalpurity.com. Hopefully these ideas will give you a little kick start to spring cleaning your office.

 

Promote Healthy Habits: 47 percent of working adults eat lunch at their desk on a daily basis. Though this might sound harmless, it’s not. Most workstations carry as much as 400 times more dangerous bacteria than the average public toilet seat.

 

There are several ways to minimize the risk of harmful bacteria:

 

• Promote employee hand washing by keeping your restroom fully stocked with the right supplies (e.g., paper towels, foaming hand soap). A sign designed to remind employees to wash up can also be beneficial.

• Make sure there are sanitizing/hygienic wipes available for employees to use throughout the office.

• High touch points such as door knobs, light switches and bathroom surfaces should be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent the spread of bacteria. The same goes for communal areas such as fridges, microwaves, ovens and other shared equipment.

 

Use Care When Cleaning Computer Workstations: Computer workstations collect a lot of dirt and dust. Use care when cleaning to avoid damage.

 

• Use compressed air to remove dust from computer keyboards and CPU towers.

• Clean monitors with wipes approved for use on LCD screens to avoid scratching screens.

• Remember to dust each computer mouse and set of speakers before moving on to the next workstation.

 

Remove Dirt and Grime From Carpet: Improve the look of your office and extend the life of your carpet by scheduling regular maintenance.

 

• A professional deep clean is the best first step, followed by regular vacuuming and spot removal. A successful maintenance program can extend the life of your carpet by three or more years.

• Strategic matting is also a good way to prevent dirt and grime from entering the office. And the spring season may just be the perfect time to upgrade your current system.

 

Don’t Forget to Spring Clean Your Technology: Your computer probably has its own version of dusty shelves and leaky faucets that could use some attention, both inside and out.

 

• Back up all of your important files (e.g., documents, photos, videos, web bookmarks, emails, and so on). There are a number of cloud services that will store this information for free (Google Drive, Dropbox, Skyline and others).

• Update your infrastructure – this means removing unused applications and programs. It’ll clear up your hard drive, and possibly your icons from your desktop – which means you’ll actually be able to see your wallpaper again.

• Download the most recent software updates for your operating system. It might also be a good idea to do this for your favorite programs as well.