Would you splay yourself on the communal couch in your office, flick off your shoes and balance your laptop on your belly to file the month-end report? We ask this seriously since most remote work happened this way – with us slouched on couches (or propped up in bed). Did that feel comfortable in the moment? Absolutely. Is it what we should still be doing as we head back to the office? Absolutely not. And here’s why. Couch work can lead to musculoskeletal disorders according to Forbes, on top of something (worrying) called premature disc degeneration in your back thanks to really bad posture.

But fear not, because your good old faithful desk and office chair are here to set things right. And yes, in the moment, sitting at your desk may not be as comfy as plumped couch cushions but – if you sit and ‘desk’ well – you can save yourself from spinal problems and general pain in the long run.

Your desk and chair are better than the couch, but what if they’re uncomfortable?

First, we need to define uncomfortable. Are we talking uncomfortable in the sense of body twinges, unhelpful straining and stretching and a chair so hard your left butt cheek goes numb? Or are we talking ‘mentally’ uncomfortable – as in your couch would be waaaay better than this desk? If it’s the latter, then it’s time to buck up and understand how good your office desk and chair can be for you day to day. If it’s the former then it’s time to take control.

Body mechanics coordinator John Cinkay believes you can’t get away from back, neck and shoulder strain – and bigger musculoskeletal problems – without ‘owning’ your desk. Move things where they’re most comfortable, make sure the top of your monitor is at eye level (even if that means stacking it on phone books) and for the love of ergonomics, adjust your chair so your feet aren’t dangling above the floor. We suggest watching this short tutorial on how to arrange your desk to be ergonomically sound courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.

If an adjustable chair isn’t an option, we direct you to this fabulous selection of desk chairs that will have your booty sitting pretty in no time: Show Anthony’s chairs x 3, with names below? Do we want to include price points? A piece of advice when purchasing a chair: The seat should have enough padding and the seat width, depth and height should suit your own, ah, width, depth and height. When sitting, your knees should be level with your hips says the Mayo Clinic, so bear this in mind when shopping.

But remember, part of sitting and ‘desking’ well also means understanding that we weren’t made to sit on our derrieres all day. Everything in moderation as they say. You need to get up from your desk – whether for a coffee or recreational break – at least every hour Cinkay says. If that isn’t an option, get some movement in. Certified yoga instructor Linda Steinberg provides six yoga poses you can do at your desk to alleviate built up muscular (and mental) tension. From shoulder rolls to neck stretches, you can explore these poses here.

The biggest problem with working on the couch is that you take these breaks on the couch too; working on a report transitions to a 20-minute Facebook break, transitions to carrying on with the report and your body never gets a break from what’s called ‘the cashew’ – shoulders curved over, butt curved under resulting in a rounded back. According to orthopaedic surgeon Nomi Khan, this rounded position “damages the little shock absorbers in the spine, called the intervertebral disks” which can cause – you read it at the beginning – disk degeneration. So take a proper break from sitting and better still, sit at a proper office desk and chair.

Does your aversion to your office desk have to do with…mess?

We’ve all heard that a messy desk can help us think more creatively and, although this is true in part, a messy desk can also negatively affect our stress and anxiety levels. So consider – is your aversion to your work desk because it’s piled high with unfiled paper work, empty cappuccino cups and stray staples?

If you think this might be why you’re willing to sit in contorted positions on numerous unsuitable surfaces – we’ll admit we’ve even attempted to work in a precariously swinging hammock than at our desk – then it’s time to (once again) take control and clear the clutter. Assistant professor of organisational behaviour Libby Sander understands the benefits of an ‘unmessy’ desk all too well, as do scientists at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute. According to their research “our brains like order, and constant visual reminders of disorganisation drain our cognitive resources and reduce our ability to focus.” So there’s a productivity benefit to clutterless desks too, on top of simply being a more functional, clean place to work.

So what do we need to do to clear the desk clutter and beat the build up? Here are a few tips:

  1. Evaluate what really needs to be on your desk and how often you need it. Professional organiser Olivia Carter recommends sorting items into what you need always, sometimes and never. That helps weed out the must-haves from the no-need-to-haves and gives your desk breathing room. You can watch more of her desk decluttering tips here.
  1. Develop a system of ‘easy reach, easy store’. If you’re someone who needs a lot of paper to write on, keep it in the top drawer of your desk for example. If you’re a coloured pens guy or gal, give yourself a sturdy pen holder at arm’s length. The arm’s length is also important for ergonomics and to prevent strain.
  1. Group like items. This may seem obvious but how often are you rifling under paper stacks to find a stapler or highlighter? Items that serve similar purposes should live in one spot. The best way to group items is to get yourself a storage unit with drawers and designate a drawer per item group. Carter also recommends this method, adding that it should be aesthetically pleasing to look at too. Try this DIY desk organiser from Heart Deco if you don’t know where to start.

So if you’re ready to embrace your office desk and chair – and are looking for an affordable, functional, good looking place to do all that embracing in – then come to Office & Co. Explore our workspaces in Cape Town and Joburg. Our desks and chairs aren’t just ergonomically friendly, but mighty fine to look at too.

Gather your team and come to Office & Co.

A lot of us have been lone rangering for a while. We just made up the word ‘rangering’ but you get what we mean. We haven’t had the normal over-the-shoulder nods of approval from colleagues or bosses in months, and sometimes that simple gesture is all we need to feel like we’re on the right track. So why not come to Office & Co.

Our boardrooms are sleek, our coffee strong and the opportunities for collaboration and head nodding abound. Explore our functional, affordable office spaces in Cape Town and Joburg today.

Contact us for a free consultation on your office space needs.

Please complete the form below and we will get back to you soonest. We look forward to discussing your office space requirements.

    Johannesburg

    Tel: +27 11 267 0500

    Email: info@officeandco.co.za

    Cape Town

    Tel: +27 21 140 0700

    Email: info@officeandco.co.za

    Johannesburg

    Tel: +27 11 267 0500

    Email: info@officeandco.co.za

    Cape Town

    Tel: +27 21 140 0700

    Email: info@officeandco.co.za

    Please complete the form below and we will get back to you soonest. We look forward to discussing your office space requirements.