Ergonomics is the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products and systems so that they fit the people who use them. Good ergonomics will help to maximise comfort, safety and performance thereby increasing productivity and staff well-being and attendance levels. Assessments and collaboration with employees to ascertain areas requiring improvement are an important part of managing a workplace.
5 proven benefits of an ergonomic office environment:
- Reduced costs, due to less sick days, and increased productivity
- Improved work ethic and job satisfaction
- Higher employee engagement
- Increased performance and better quality of work
- Better health and safety – creates a better safety culture
In an office environment, an ergonomic workstation layout is vital for employees. Frequently used items should be easy to operate and reach. Desks should be the correct size and height so that they are functional and provide enough space for employees’ legs, thus minimising discomfort. Chairs should be adjustable to take into account different body sizes and heights. Thought should be given to lighting; inadequate lighting or glare can cause eye strain and headaches. Temperature, humidity and noise levels are all key aspects to be considered when creating the ideal workspace. Too hot impairs concentration, too cold and employees can become stiff. Low humidity can cause dry eyes and throat, whilst high humidity can cause perspiration.
5 ways to improve office ergonomics:
- Office employees can be seated for an average of 8 hours a day. A well-designed chair can alleviate bad posture whilst regular breaks can improve circulation and concentration.
- Height-adjustable desks are increasingly popular as they allow the user to sit or stand as and when necessary whilst working.
- LED lights are known to reduce eyestrain and headaches.
- A zoned heating / air-conditioning unit will enable employees to adapt the temperature to their needs.
- Screens and acoustic panels provide privacy and can eliminate excessive noise. Partitions can provide quiet work areas and meeting spaces.
Top 5 tips for a comfortable workstation:
- Sit upright in your chair close to the workstation and ensure your body is supported by the chair’s back support. Tilt the seat 5-10° downwards and sit with feet flat on the floor, or supported by a footstool if the floor cannot be reached.
- Sit directly in front of the computer screen and keyboard to avoid neck twisting. Take regular breaks to stand up and stretch your legs.
- Ensure all items are within easy reach so that you aren’t twisting or bending in an unnatural position at your desk.
- Position screens at eye level (laptops should be raised and use a separate keyboard) and look away from the screen every few minutes to vary focal length and avoid eyestrain. Move the screens to avoid any glare or reflections.
- Relax shoulders, and regularly check that they do not become tense or hunched. Arms should hang down naturally from shoulders and there should be a right angle at your elbow when using your keyboard. Avoid using keyboard or mouse wrist rests for permanently resting your wrists on while you are working.