A healthy and safe working environment is an enabling environment for workers to enhance productivity and stay healthy. It is the task of every organization irrespective of their business natures to create a sound ergonomic workplace for their employees. This will not only improve productivity, but also reduce cost expended on workers’ injuries, improve quality, improve employee engagement, and create a better safety culture in the workspace.
Poor ergonomic practices are bad for business and can kill the system over time. Considering the dynamic and complex collection of today’s office setup, where new technologies are emerging every day to make the work easier in the office, organizing a modern office space can be challenging. The first step is to strive to have a healthy environment for the employees by improving office ergonomics as much as needed to suit the organization.
Good ergonomics in the workstation goes beyond having fancy desks, chairs, laptops, computers, and other office equipment. All these office tools cannot help an employee whose tasks entail sitting all day, slumping and slouching awkwardly at his or her desk. You need something more ergonomic to ensure your workers are willing and happy to come to work every day. How can you achieve this? – Improve your office ergonomically.
There are effective ways to improve ergonomics in the office, and you start getting results immediately. Applying the principles discussed here will significantly enhance your office ergonomics and set you on the path to business success. We will start by defining office ergonomics.
What are Office Ergonomics?
Office ergonomics can be defined as the science of creating or designing office workstation to suit employees and allow enabling and comfortable working environment for maximum efficiency and productivity. A proper ergonomically optimized office environment will guarantee comfort and fatigue-free workspace that lead to employee productivity – which organization doesn’t want that?
Office ergonomics focus on wellbeing, comfort, health, and productivity of employees who work from desks, chairs, computers and involved in work practices, shift patterns, and stress management. A perfect ergonomic office environment promotes comfort and efficiency and as well as prevents musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) including strains and sprains. Employers have been tasked to find every mean to improve ergonomics in the office, and many have been seen results from taking the steps. However, some are still confused about how to go about it. Let’s discuss some practical ways to achieve this goal.
Effective Ways to Improve Office Ergonomics
Experts have suggested many practical ways to improve ergonomics in the office. The quality of your desk, chair, monitor, mouse, keyboard, and other workstation tools has significant effects on your body posture and if they are not properly used could subject you to a high risk of musculoskeletal injuries and cause frequent downtime at the workplace. Improving ergonomics in the working environment can be as easy as putting the right office equipment in place, use them properly, adjust them accordingly, and having a policy that encourages body movements once in a while. Below are effective ways you can improve ergonomics in the office:
Understand and Identify your Office Ergonomics Needs
The first step to improve office ergonomics is to understand and identify the need for ergonomics in your office. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) described ergonomics as a creation of a working environment to fit the competence of the employees. The aims of ergonomics in the office are to provide an enabling environment for workers in which the setup of work layouts, equipment, and an atmosphere are to match the health and comfort of the employees.
The office contains employees with various body sizes and job tasks; hence, there is a need to have ergonomics that can be adjusted to suit individual schedules and postures. It is believed that if employees perform at their best, the company will do well and the business will grow. Study your business and see a need to improve ergonomics at each employee workstation.
Select and Set-up Ergonomic Office Equipment
The next step is to take action. If you don’t have required ergonomic office workstation in place, it is high-time you improved your employee workstation. With the various options of ergonomic office equipment out there, choosing the appropriate office tools for each employee tasks can sometimes be challenging. Many employers are confused about what to put in place to achieve an ergonomically optimized office. However, Ergo Office Depot has put up a checklist for key workstation items to improve your employee productivity. They are not limited to the following:
- Ergonomic office chairs: A typical office chair should be equipped with a variety of features such as pneumatic seat-pan height adjustment, lumbar support, backrest tension control, and as well as a backrest that can tilt forward and backward. You can also read our post on “Ergonometric Chair Buying Guide”. Check our ergonomic office chairs from our category.
- Adjustable workstation: Your workstation is simply your work desk, and it is expected to provide enough surface area to perform your tasks and offer the ease of adjusting the height to fit your work and position. Many ergonomic desks offer these functions and focus on provide much-needed comfort while discharging your duties. You can check some of our workstation categories.
- Monitor stand or arm: A typical adjustable monitor stand/arm should be between 27 inches and 34 inches above the seat pan. Also, the stand or arm weight should withstand the weight of the monitor. You can check some of our monitor stands
- Input device: Your input device features should contain a cord which is long enough for proper placement, should easily move and used by right- and left-handed users. Wireless can as well be an option in your office.
- Keyboard or keyboard tray: Since your keyboard/keyboard tray is always fixed in one position (unlike a mouse), it should perfectly lie flat to provide slope adjustment up to ± 15° with a low profile of about 1 inch.
- Laptops: In the case of a laptop, an external keyboard and mouse are recommended if you are using them for an extended period. It is also advisable to change posture and take a regular break when using computer for a prolonged period. Check our collection of monitor stands/mounts.
- Enough illumination: Office environment should be illuminated to bring life to the workspace. Employees shouldn’t be straining their eyes to perform their tasks. Adjustable 75 to 140-foot candle lighting is recommended to reduce shadows in the environment.
- Monitor resolution: Adjust the monitor contrast and brightness to reduce heated rays entering into your body.
- Footrest: The height should be adjustable. Typical adjustable height between 11 inches and 18 inches is recommended.
- Wrist rest: The function of a wrist rest is to provide a frictionless surface and reduce external pressure on your wrist. It should be constructed or made from the soft or compressible material.
- Headset: Digital headset is preferable to analog and should be able to disconnect quickly when it is required.
Good Working Posture
After choosing and setting up required ergonomic office workstation, the next step is to follow up with your employees to always establish good working posture. Whatever the nature of tasks handled by an employee, instituting a good working posture according to the employee’s size at the workstation is one of the top ergonomic priorities that will improve your overall ergonomics in the office. Employees should be able to stand or sit and achieve neutral body position with ease to ensure tasks are completed without excessive or stressful angles on their body.
Office workers are expected to sit with their forearms, wrist, and hands parallel and in-line with the floor with head level facing front without turning to the right or left and aligned with the body structure. It is also ergonomically sound to be standing once in a while, to neutralize problems associated with prolonged sitting. Employees should stand straight with their wrists and arms maintain a neutral position. For more on good working posture, you can read our post on “Good Postures help Reduce Back Pain in Office”.
Minimize Repetitive Movement
Studies have shown the link between repetitive motion and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). No matter ergonomic principles you put in place, if you do the same activities or involved in same motion repeatedly for a long time, it may cause stress and result in injury at work. One of the effective ways to prevent this problem is by performing different movements or changing tasks as much as possible. This will relatively minimize the risk of injuries resulting from tissues under stress. However, if alternating your task is impossible due to your schedule, it is advisable to periodically change your regular position such as from sitting position to standing position.
To sum it up
Proper ergonomics in the office play a vital role in the business sector by improving employees comfort and productivity. Poor office ergonomics will not only affect the workers but can also kill the business if care is not taken. However, many business owners may not know what they are losing until they invest in improving ergonomics in their offices. This post has suggested some steps to improve your office ergonomics and contribute to the comfort and health of your employees.
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