Ergonomics: the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. When it comes to shaping and designing a workplace, efficiency is definitely an inspiring goal – along with an awesome aesthetic, of course. So, with that in mind, how are you factoring in workplace ergonomics when embarking on your office redesign? Use this helpful guide to aid your efforts!
Why should we care about workplace ergonomics?
As an employer, you’ll already be clued up on the health and safety obligations you have for your employees, and workplace ergonomics for a big part. From posture and comfort to movability and productive workstations, your office should accommodate all your staff safely and effectively. So, where to start?
The ergonomic chair
In the office, your workers spend many hours typing away, designing, tweeting, reporting – whatever their role dictates. You need to make sure they’re well catered for, especially when it turns out that sitting for prolonged periods of time damages our health.
Good posture, circulation, and a comfortable work position that prevents eye strain, neck and back pain is the goal when designing an ergonomic chair.
Materials can be mesh, leather or fabric – mesh is specifically designed for more breathability. Neck and head rests, along with lumbar support help incredibly with healthy posture. Comfortable, padded seats that dip at the edge allow for comfort for the knees and help with circulation. Arm rests, wheel bases, and 360-degree movability give workers much more flexibility to their working day.
It’s also extremely important that chairs are height-adjustable to allow your staff to position themselves healthily; that means an arm’s length apart from monitors, heads and necks upright with eyes looking slightly down towards the centre of the screen to avoid eye strain. Laptop risers can also help with this, as well as height-adjustable desks.
An ergonomic desk space
Keep your work essentials close by to minimise reaching or strains, and don’t put too much pressure on your body. Clear any clutter and maintain tidiness and good office hygiene.
Sit or stand
Another ergonomic feature is the sit-stand desk. This clever piece of office furniture allows your staff to mix positions up to stretch their legs, and improve their posture, circulation and balance. Allowing workers to switch between sitting and standing can also keep them on higher alert, helping with fatigue.
Headsets are very efficient for workers who take a lot of calls as part of their role. They save neck or arm strains from having to pick up the telephone all the time, especially when we have to multitask.
Mouse and keyboard
Ergonomic design also comes into play for our computer mice and keyboards. To help with RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury), keyboards and mice can be designed to specifically relieve wrist pain by letting wrists lean on ends of keyboards, and to fit around mice more comfortably to alleviate pressure. Keyboards can also be raised at the top to create a slope for increased comfort.
If any of your workers can’t rest their feet flat on the floor because chairs are too high for them or desks require chairs to be adjusted higher, footrests are perfect. Feet shouldn’t hang, and the edge of the seat shouldn’t press under the knees. Make sure under the desk is free of any tangled wires or cables and any obstruction.
Along with ensuring there are ergonomic workstations and equipment, you should encourage workers to take breaks to simply stretch their legs and re-energise. Your workers have a right to one uninterrupted 20-minute rest break during the working day if they work more than six hours. But, you’ll go a long way and help retain staff if you allow more breaks to keep them focused and their minds and bodies healthy.
How ergonomic is your workplace? Has this made some sparks fly when thinking about your office design? For any questions on how to better accommodate your staff, speak to our office fit-out experts today.