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How freelancers and contractors can create a healthy working environment

The average working UK adult spends almost 40 hours per week at work. If you’re a freelancer or contractor, the chances are you’re working even longer hours than that. In short, you probably spend a large percentage of your time sat at a desk, staring at a screen.

It will come as no surprise to learn that those endless hours at your workstation might not be too good for you. But help is at hand: we’ve put together this article offering up our favourite ways to be that little bit healthier in your workspace.

Get your posture sorted
There are few things worse for your spine than being slumped over a computer keyboard for four or five hours at a stretch. Over time you could find yourself with bad posture and back issues.

Luckily, there are a few easy ways to keep your posture in the best shape possible. Here’s our hit list:

  • Get your monitor raised to eye level—it’ll help to straighten out your back. If you’ve got a laptop, consider getting a laptop riser and separate keyboard.
  • Make a point of doing a few stretches at least once an hour. This can be as simple as holding out your arms and looking at the ceiling.
  • Work with your feet flat on the floor—it will encourage you to sit in a more upright manner.

Remember to stand up
Too much sitting for extended periods can be bad for your muscles, your circulation, and your ability to stay focussed.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget to stand up and take a little walk around when you’re concentrating hard on getting your work done during busy periods. To avoid this, set an alarm on your phone or use a website such as Regular Breaks to help you stay on top of getting those legs moving.

Don’t eat at your desk
We’ve all been there: you’re having a busy day and you simply don’t have time for lunch, so you decide to eat your meal at your desk. It means you don’t have to break away from working while you fuel up.

Although eating at your desk might feel like it’s helping your productivity, it can actually have a negative effect on your work rate. A lunch break away from your screen helps to reset your creativity, as well as giving you a quick mental recharge. For extra brain-boosting points, consider reading a chapter of a book, or an in-depth magazine article, to get your synapses firing into the afternoon.

Give your eyes a rest
Screen resolutions may have improved in recent years but, evolutionarily speaking, our eyes are still not really built for staring at a screen for extended periods of time. It can lead to fatigue, headaches, and even blurred vision.

There’s an easy way to combat the curse of eye strain from excessive screen time: the triple 20 rule. It’s a simple routine to work into your daily working life. Every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object around 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This simple method helps to alleviate the pressure on your eyes, and it’ll help to prevent long term issues from forming.

Get a standing desk
We’ve saved our most extreme health-driven office workspace strategy until last: investing in a standing desk. They might seem unsightly, and the best models aren’t cheap, but a standing desk can help you be more productive while having a positive effect on your health.

If you’re not quite ready to convert to a full-time standing desk, it might be worth setting up a spot where you can stand for just a couple of hours a day and work—as long as your screen is at eye level and your elbows are at around 90 degrees when at the keyboard, you’re good to go.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article. For more tips, advice, and insight on making your contract or freelance business work better, browse through our list of resources, here.

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