The main aim of office ergonomics is to enable every worker to perform their tasks efficiently while preserving their health. This has become somewhat challenging with so many people choosing to work from their mobile devices. Add the rapid pace of technological development and you get ergonomists working frantically to keep up.
Investing in contemporary office ergonomics has a certain pay off. You will have healthier and more efficient workers who are devoted to your company’s progress. With this in mind, here are several ways you can improve ergonomics in the workplace.
At its core, ergonomics is about aligning the workspace with the human body and not the other way around. When done properly, ergonomics reduces pain, increases productivity and decreases workers’ compensation claims.
However, the solution isn’t just buying everyone an adjustable office chair. Unfortunately ergonomics cannot be reduced to just one piece of equipment. It’s essentially a holistic approach to the way people work. Because we come in all shapes and sizes, we all work differently.
Contrary to common belief, ergonomics isn’t necessarily expensive. Sometimes it just takes furniture rearrangement so everything is within easy reach. And ergonomic equipment today isn’t as costly as it used to be, especially when compared to potential injury claims.
Typical ergonomic injuries
Ergonomic injuries typically take a long time to heal and can be ultimately more harmful than sudden injuries. Contrary to a sprained ankle resulting from a fall, an ergonomic injury is different. It’s a fundamental change in the structure of joints or muscles. As these injuries happen slowly and gradually, even the employee may be unaware of it. They might experience fatigue, stiffness, and pain initially. But as microscopic tears and inflammation continue to build up, the condition worsens.
Most workers just accept the condition as something that comes with the territory, but it doesn’t have to be so. Conditions such as repetitive strain injuries, carpal tunnel, back and neck pain can be prevented. This is done by replacing traditional equipment with ergonomic equipment.
Some employees are at a greater risk of ergonomic injuries than others. The obvious signs that they are under physical and psychological stress are clear. This includes awkward body postures, wrist deviations, frequent reaching, repeated vibration in arms, hands and body. The more risk factors there are for the employee, the bigger the chances they will develop a health issue.
To find the best solution, it’s necessary to do an ergonomic audit of your offices. This includes collecting all the data regarding job tasks, movement patterns, layout, and problem areas. This will help you make the necessary modifications.
Setting up the workstation
To help your company run at peak efficiency, you might need to consult an expert ergonomist in order to set up an ergonomic workstation. As each employee has different needs and modifications, it’ll be necessary to focus on different areas such as head positions, hand and arm positions, and seated positions. All adjustments must enable the worker to sit or stand comfortably without any strain.
Asthe people behind this master’s degree in product and interior design explain, designing a space requires a deeper study and understanding of the complexity of the world and the ability to adapt products to suit it. Creating a space that is both comfortable and functional requires the study of furniture ergonomics, adjustability, use of sustainable materials and lighting. Too much light can be overwhelming to the brain, and too little can cause eye strain that workers often try to compensate by adopting awkward postures. Ergonomists can help find the sweet spot.
Selecting the right equipment
Once you’ve got the analysis of your office environment and its specific needs, it is important to pick the right equipment. Ergonomic business solutions typically include ergonomic keyboards that adjust to hand size, arm length and body type, mice with options for both right and left-handed workers, wrist rests, adjustable standing desks and ergonomic chairs.
Involving the staff
People generally oppose change, even if it’s for their own good. To reap the benefits of workplace ergonomics, both the management and staff need to understand how important it is for everyone’s health. Most of your workers will have gotten used to their current work habits and fail to notice the connection between movement patterns and health. With ergonomic innovations, they’ll have to get out of their comfort zones and learn new skills.
Educate and encourage teams to make the necessary change by explaining that ergonomics is about the individual and how such changes can improve their long-term health through ergonomics awareness training.
Once you improve your office ergonomics, the overall mood, health and productivity will change in unexpected ways. Make sure you continue the communication with your employees to identify potential issues and find room for further improvement. By implementing the principles of contemporary office ergonomics, you will jumpstart a positive wave of increased productivity and improved health.
Author’s bio: Lillian Connors is an interior design expert and a senior content strategist at Spread the Word Solutions. She is always doing her best to help her clients find their place in the ever so competitive business arena, insisting on long-term sustainability rather than on some questionable get-rich-fast scheme. She’s also deeply into green practices, cherishing the notion that sustainable housing and gardening will not only make us far less dependent on others regarding the dwellings we inhabit and what we eat, but also contribute to our planet being a better place to live on.
Today more people than ever are working from home. While attending meetings and answering emails in our pajamas is extremely convenient, converting our homes into offices overnight has created quite a challenge for maintaining one’s productivity and health. If we are all striving to be as productive as possible with the time we allocate to work all while maintaining strong health, how do we optimize productivity and health in our home workspace?
Optimize Your Home Office
Standing Desks. Height adjustable desks are a simple way to dramatically increase the productivity of any work space. A 2016 study conducted at Texas A&M University showed that employees using standing desks had significant improvement when comparing markers for productivity against employees doing the exact same job in sitting desks. When this change is applied to home offices the increase in productivity has the potential to be even more dramatic.
Areas of productivity that have been observed to increase with the use of a standing desk:
- Executive cognitive function
- Work engagement
- Overall job performance
- Success rate
Improving every single one of these categories can be accomplished with the simple change of converting your traditional seated desk into a standing workstation.
Working from home can be similar to attempting to workout at home – sometimes the motivation just isn’t there. It is easier to be complacent and comfortable because this is the place you typically relax after a long day at the office. Now that your home is the office, it is important to transform a piece of your home into a legitimate workspace and standing desks force you to physically participate in this transformation by standing where you otherwise would be sitting. No longer are you lounging in your cushioned spinny chair, you are now standing, you are alert, up right, and re-focused.
Standing v. Sitting
Standing desks can fit anywhere traditional desks can, so there is no reason not to replace your old seated desk with a dynamic desk that goes from sitting to standing with a click of a button.
The beauty of height adjustable desks lay in the user’s ability to reap all the benefits of the standing desks, but when muscle fatigue sets in or you’d just rather sit for a few, you can scoot that ergonomic fluffy chair right on up and lower the table top to seated height.
So if standing desks can improve productivity and help transform a home office into a more engaging workspace, in addition to doing everything a regular old seated desk can when desired, why would one limit themself with the latter?
Throw tradition out the window and embrace the perks of innovation. Productivity is what matters when designing a home office, or even a regular office, not tradition.
Optimize Your Health
Sedentary lifestyles are becoming a societal norm. We are sitting on the couch, sitting at our desks, sitting in the car. Sitting. sitting, sitting. This is not a healthy way to live.
Health risks brought on by a sedentary lifestyle:
- Heart diseases
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Metabolic syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain cancers
- Increased feelings of depression and anxiety
This list is daunting, yet very real. Health complications such as these can make life difficult. Standing desks can help in combating this. When you convert sitting at your desk to standing time, it gives your body a rest from all of it’s rest.
In the previously mentioned study conducted at Texas A&M, standing desk users sat on average 1.6 hours less per day than their coworkers with traditional desks. When you extrapolate that over a week, month, and eventually a year, the benefits are staggering.
Health benefits observed from using a standing desk:
- Higher step count
- More burned calories
- Decreased physical discomfort
- More positive outlook
- Decreased time sitting (duh)
We are not meant to be sitting sixteen hours a day and lying down the other eight. The aforementioned list of health complications that can arise from excessive sitting is proof of that. Movement is life. Working at a standing desk compels the user to not only stand, but remain much more active than you would be in a chair.
Time to Stand
The goal is to design your home office to support an increase in productivity as well as a healthier lifestyle. We are all striving to optimize our lives. A standing desk in your home office is one simple way to do exactly that.
Author’s Bio: Xavier Mendiola is a health and wellness specialist with a biomedical sciences background. He is a personal trainer based out of Scottsdale, AZ and is extremely passionate about giving people the tools and knowledge to become the strongest version of themselves in every aspect of life.
Why Choose a Standing Desk?
Thinking about installing a standing desk for your own office space? Take a look at some of the reasons why you should.
Less Obesity Risk
Leading standing desk researcher, James Levine of the Mayo Clinic, conducted a study on a group of office workers. The participants all added 1,000 calories to their daily intake and were asked not to change any exercise or movement habits. Some of the workers gained weight while others did not. Curious as to what was making the difference, Levine and his team sewed sensors into the undergarments of the workers to track daily movement. What they found was that the group not gaining weight actually sat much less than the other workers. Even if they were just standing to stretch or walk to the bathroom, the group that did not experience weight gain sat 2.25 hours less than their peers.
Levine is quick to point out that standing is just the start. To really experience optimal health, sedentary workers must actually walk around more. But a standing desk is a start (and standing burns 50 more calories per hour than sitting anyway).
Reduced Cancer Risk
Breast cancer and colon cancer are the ones that appear most related to lack of physical activity. A study from 2011 reported that 43,000 cases of colon cancer and 49,000 cases of breast cancer annually are caused by prolonged sitting. Though the cases weren’t as conclusive, the same study reported that ovarian, prostate, lung, and endometrial cancer also showed a strong connection to prolonged sitting. There is not a definitive answer as to why sitting appears to cause these types of cancer, but it’s possible that increases in C-reactive protein, found in people who sit for long periods of time, is the culprit.
It makes sense that mortality may rise since sitting too much is related to cancer, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Consider the findings from this 2011 study: Americans increase their life expectancy two years by reducing the sitting time from the standard six hours to just three hours per day, instead.
If you want to improve your posture and reduce eye strain, a standing desk is a smart option. It’s important to set it up the right way, though. Your computer screen should sit just above resting eye level, so you have to look up slightly to see it. This keeps you from hunching over or slouching as you tap away on your keyboard. The simple act of standing will also improve your core strength, leading to better overall posture.
Important Standing Desk Considerations
Standing desks are beneficial for our health but there are some things to keep in mind as we make the transition.
1. Start Slow
Don’t try to go from six hours of sitting to zero overnight. As mentioned earlier, aim to sit just three of your waking hours each day. Start with just 20 minutes at a time at your standing desk. Add more and more time until you are comfortable. Standing on our feet may not sound like a lot of work. Since we are sitting the majority of the day, we strain ourselves from standing too often and too fast.
2. Use a Mat
Take it easy on your knees, hips, and ankles by using a gel mat where you plan to stand. Take it a step further and wear non-slip, supportive shoes, too.
3. Face the Adjustment Head-On
If standing is too distracting to do work, use your sitting times when you need that extra concentration. You may find the standing desk a little distracting at first, but you’ll likely adjust and learn to refocus with time.
4. Set it Up Right
Your computer screen should sit 15 to 30 inches from your eyes, with your eye level even with (or slightly below) your screen. Keep your wrists flat and your elbows at a 90-degree angle. If you feel like any part of your body is straining while you are standing then you need to make adjustments to make it more comfortable.
Standing does burn more calories than sitting but to really see optimal health benefits make sure you are walking throughout the workday, too. The American Heart Association suggests 10,000 steps per day at a minimum. Buy a pedometer or a fitness tracker and add in steps where you see fit during the day. Look for creative ways to do other exercises during the workday, too, that stretch your muscles and keep your circulation and metabolism going.
Simply follow these easy to comprehend steps and be on your way to better health, a prolonged lifespan, and a truly elevated life. #GoodbyeSittingDisease