Five Work Environment Factors That Influence Your Brain

You spend a good part of your day at work. However, it's often a problematic environment. In fact, time and demand make certain changes take place in your brain. Find out here what they are and what implications they have.
Five Work Environment Factors That Influence Your Brain

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 25 November, 2022

Some factors in the work environment influence your brain in a negative way. They’re situations or circumstances that modify your state of mind or perception and affect your concentration, motivation, and productivity.

Your work environment can help or hinder your performance. Even the color of the walls stimulates certain moods and inhibits others. In fact, the factors that can affect your productivity range from the smallest to the hugely significant.

During your daily routine, you often experience fatigue and feelings of discouragement. You may even reject what’s going on. That’s because there are frequently certain factors in the workplace that need identifying and adjusting.

Rest belongs to work, like the eyelids to the eyes.”

-Rabindranath Tagore-

1. The negative moods of your colleagues

Emotional contagion is a phenomenon that we’ve all occasionally experienced. You usually suffer it more intensely in the workplace, especially if you spend many hours there or work in close proximity to your colleagues.

If you’re at home or in a social situation, and you notice a negative mood in those around you, you have the option to distance yourself or turn around and leave. At work, you can’t always do this. Therefore, you need to learn how to protect yourself from these situations.

Colleagues talking at work, depicting the work environment

2. Lack of autonomy over the workspace

Another factor of the work ecosystem that can influence your brain is the impossibility or difficulty to configure and place each element in a place that’s ergonomic for you. As a rule, those who have the freedom to personalize their workspace feel more motivated to work.

Moreover, if you don’t have enough space, your privacy is reduced which might make you feel really uncomfortable. Or, if your workplace has been arranged to satisfy the needs of others, you might feel demotivated. At some point, this will be reflected in your performance.

3. Artificial light

A study conducted by Northwestern University (USA) found that people who work in artificial light tire sooner, perform less well, and have a harder time resting than those who work in natural light.

Ivy Cheung, one of the scientists who led the research, pointed out that artificial light can alter the release of melatonin, a hormone that’s secreted by light stimuli. When the cycles of light and darkness are altered, our bodies suffer, which ends up affecting our cycles of wakefulness and rest.

4. The inability to take a break when you want to

Science has established that our brains require reference points in space and time to function properly. A large study, led by Microsoft, which cites several investigations, corroborated this idea. They claim that,  ideally, we should take short breaks of a couple of minutes, every quarter of an hour.

However, many employers haven’t been made aware of this. For this reason, they require workers to remain in their workplace, without leaving, for several continuous hours. This not only affects the functioning of their brains, leading to fatigue but reduces productivity and increases errors.

Tired woman at work

5. Not drinking enough water

Our brains need a good supply of water to function well. If you don’t drink often enough, signs of dehydration appear and this influences your brain activity. More specifically, it affects your memory and concentration. It may also cause headaches and mild signs of depression.

Therefore, it’s extremely important that sufficient drinking water is available in your workplace. You should drink between one-and-a-half to two liters during an eight-hour day. Teas and infusions are also fine, but not coffee.

Finally, your work environment isn’t just the place where you perform your daily tasks. It’s also a space for living and coexistence. Therefore, to manage it properly, it’s not only the needs of production that must be addressed but also those of the human beings who work there.

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The contents of Exploring Your Mind are for informational and educational purposes only. They don't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment of a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.