What is Office Ergonomics
Keeping employees well and productive isn’t just about giving lectures on how to stop smoking or regulate blood pressure. Physical movement is one of the keys to keeping an office staff healthy. It impacts work-related absenteeism (since prolonged sitting or standing stresses muscles and joints which can lead to musculoskeletal disorders or MSDs), and can overall affect a company’s performance. Oftentimes, office movement is directly related to office design and the furniture utilized by the staff. Conditions like unwieldy office chairs can cause ailments, and existing health problems to persist and worsen. That is why addressing the issue of office ergonomics come is so important. Office ergonomics apply the science that lies behind the interactions people have with their environment, so personal well-being and office efficiency occur at a peak level.
Don’t Just Sit (or Stand) There
Sitting for long hours or standing for long periods of time will stress the body’s joints. Poor posture aggravates muscles and joints. One very common example is an employee working in front of a computer screen. Ever pick up a heavy bowling ball? A person’s head weighs between 10 pounds to 14 pounds. Leaning forward to glance at the computer screen with gravity pulling down on the head will gradually strain the upper two vertebrae out of alignment. This will pinch the nerves in the brainstem, an area located at the bottom of the neck and shoulders, which ultimately will cause health problems for the employee. This risk, however, can be alleviated through regular movement, proper workstation arrangements and chairs that flex with the body.
Shake, Rattle, and Roll – or at Least Stretch
When the topic of movement in the office is brought up, most workers think the main reason is to burn calories. But that’s just one of the resulting benefits. Moving, even small stretching exercises, maintains a healthy blood circulation and is important for the health of the muscles. You can also promote movement by adding some key types of furniture to your workspace. Height adjustable desks (for both collaborative spaces and individual offices) as well as a conference table that can double as a ping-pong table are effective office additions that can help keep employees moving. It’s important to note that the key is to avoid being in one position for too long. Standing while working, which helps with movement, should still be done in brief amounts of time, perhaps intervals of no more than 15 to 20 minutes.
Workstation Standards that Raise the Bar — For Best Office Ergonomics
Proper workstation set up is, according to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), “the first step in combating musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the office environment.”
OSHA standards are:
- Aligning joints in the neutral position
- Chairs adjusted correctly for the individual user
- Backs supported
- Computer monitors, keyboards, and accessories like a mouse are at the right height for the user
This is why adjustable office furniture is so important. Individual pieces can all be adjusted independently.
Sit On It with Confidence
Every office has people with a range of postures. Chairs that don’t conform well to sitting positions can result in tight shoulders, breathing that’s constricted, and tightness in the thighs and throughout the legs. That is why it’s important to have ergonomic chairs that allows users the freedom to move naturally while in a sitting position. Ergonomically designed chairs like the Cherryman Eon Chair and 9 to 5 Seating’s Vesta Chair have lumbar support and an advanced tilt feature, which helps these chairs to work well at conference tables and for individual office use.
Image Source: Humanscale