It starts with a little annoyance. Then the blinking, headaches, and dry eyes creep in. We’ve heard it before – take a screen break, rest your eyes. But did you know that ignoring these suggestions could be affecting your team’s productivity at work?
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that nearly 80 percent of us report at least one visual disturbance at work each day and over half of us actually have to rest our eyes due to the discomfort or pain.
August is National Eye Exam Month and a good time for a reminder that eye strain at work lowers productivity. Poor eyesight and other vision problems can cost you.
Here’s how vision problems may affect your work performance and team productivity:
Computer Vision Syndrome
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) happens from staring at a screen too long without taking a break. You can treat it by using a set of eye exercises each day (Try these) and taking regular screen breaks. You may think that taking regular screen breaks are what cause the drop in productivity for your team. It’s quite the opposite. Taking a break every 20 minutes to look away from the screen allows your eyes to rest and relax the strain put on them by office work. If you’re using the restroom or prowling the break room for water or a snack, you’re also relaxing the neck which means you’ll be avoiding the aches and pains that often come from sitting too long. When we sit and stare for too long, we end up having to take longer breaks or eventually days off work. This is far more damaging to productivity as you can’t contribute if you’re not there.
Headaches related to vision can be a product of CVS, eye strain, or simply not having the right eyewear. Millions of Americans have changes in their vision but don’t take the time to get their annual eye exam. Wearing the wrong lenses causes the eyes to work harder and lead to strain. You may also not be seeing things as clearly as you should. This can cause headaches. What happens if you can’t see clearly? You might be missing something in meetings.
Many of us wear bifocals or have the wrong prescription all together. This means we make adjustments like leaning closer to the screen. You may tilt your head up and down to see the words right too. These adjustments can cause us ergonomic issues that lead to neck and head pain or even joint pain. This pain causes a loss in productivity as we then spend more time stopping to stretch, re-position, or rub those sore muscles. Many organizations have an ergonomics consultant that can assess the work space and make recommendations. Recommendations that could increase productivity.
You Think About It All the Time
The headaches. The neck pain. The fuzzy vision after staring at the computer screen all day. You think about these things so often that you’re costing valuable work time. You’re not mentally present. When you’re not thinking about them, you’re physically trying to adjust to avoid them, again wasting valuable productivity time. Encouraging employees to get a routine eye exam can be a great start to stomping out this cause for discomfort.
Glare on the computer screen can compound any of the other potential vision issues we’ve already discussed. If your team members are constantly battling the sun, poor lighting, or improper monitor settings, it could be affecting their productivity. This comes with a simple fix. Assess the work space. Come up with cost effective solutions like blinds, stick on screen glare protectors, or even a simple (and free!) adjustment of the brightness/contrast settings on the computer’s monitor. Sometimes it’s not the most costly solution that saves time and money, it’s the simple one that wins. Removing these barriers for your employees sets them up to spend less time fidgeting with workplace conditions and more time getting their tasks done.
So what does it all mean? August is National Eye Exam Month, right? Go ahead and take a minute right now (yes, we’ll wait) and call your eye doctor for an exam appointment. Making sure vision loss, eye strain, or other interferences aren’t bogging you and your team down is an important and worthwhile contribution you can make today. Do it for yourself and your work.