10 Ergonomic Tips for a Healthier Workspace

Eyestrain? Sore back? It is amazing how making even small tweaks to office furnishings or work habits can make you more comfortable. To reduce your risk of injury, and improve your performance, consider these ten practical ergonomic tips for your workspace — and work style.

Check out this very useful infographics created by Knoll:

 


 

The Power of Ergonomics to Increase Productivity in the Workplace

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Ergonomics is all about efficiency, less downtime, and better performance, which leads to increased productivity. Isn’t that what all businesses want? Technology has created a variety of tools for the workplace, computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones changing how we work.  Each tool presents new opportunities, as well as challenges for workers. Addressing ergonomic issues affects staff emotionally as well as physically, because it expresses the company’s core values to employees that their health and wellbeing matter.

Most ergonomic injuries happen slowly over time, so they may not be initially detected. It may seem like things are going fine in your business, but gradually poor ergonomics will become more apparent in workers from eye strain, to issues like carpal tunnel, and  back and neck strain slowing productivity. Simple things can be done to design a workplace that minimizes fatigue, stress and injuries to workers that keeps business running smoothly. Many companies are creating tools that can be easily implemented into your business.

Photo of Knoll Remix Chair, Courtesy of Knoll
Photo of Knoll Remix Chair, Courtesy of Knoll

Knoll takes an approach called “holistic ergonomics” in the development of products that address ergonomic concerns.  As the company states in a research paper produced by Knoll, called “Holistic Ergonomics™ – A New Approach”, “Thus, holistic ergonomics is all about creating products and workspaces that support how people think and move.”

Knoll’s popular Remix Chair™ is a prime example of this approach. The chair is designed for performance, as well as comfort.  “Inspired by the idea of bringing pre-existing elements together to make something entirely new, Remix pairs upholstered comfort with innovative Flex Net Matrix™ technology for active, all day support. Remix delivers unexpected performance in a familiar form. By combining traditional and innovative elements, Remix infuses movement into a traditionally static upholstered chair,” according to Knoll.

remic_01Knoll’s popular Remix Chair™ is a prime example of this approach. The chair is designed for performance, as well as comfort.  “Inspired by the idea of bringing pre-existing elements together to make something entirely new, Remix pairs upholstered comfort with innovative Flex Net Matrix™ technology for active, all day support. Remix delivers unexpected performance in a familiar form. By combining traditional and innovative elements, Remix infuses movement into a traditionally static upholstered chair,” according to Knoll.

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Photo of Kimball Joya Chair™courtesy of Kimball

Kimball Office is also committed to creating ergonomic workplace solutions.  According to Kimball, the Kimball Joya™ Chair is designed with advanced ergonomics in mind that perfectly fits all body types and offers back support and fits any workspace.  Advanced ergonomics and material technology give the Joya its smooth-flowing movement. Thoughtfully scaled seat and back components support a wide range of body types comfortably encouraging healthy postures and reducing physical stress. Optional sliding seats modify thigh and back support for people with long legs while an adjustable lumbar option personalizes lower back comfort.

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Both sitting all day and standing all day can be tough on the body. The Humanscale workstation standing desk makes it easy to create some balance. The QuickStand height-adjustable workstation is easy to operate.

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Photo by Humanscale

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National’s ergonomic keyboard kit includes a keyboard mechanism with a tray that adjusts from -15° to +15°, 360° swivel, and arm tilt that moves up and down. The mouse tray can be moved to support right or left-handed users. The keyboard kit also includes high density polyethylene tray platform, foam gel wrist pad, and thermoplastic mouse tray.

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Photo courtesy of National Office

 

How To Find The Perfect Height For An Office Chair

adjusting executive chairs Rarely is there a solution so simple that can bring benefits so great and yet it’s either unknown or ignored in almost every office.  A few moments reading this and acting on the tips can prevent weeks, or even months, of pain and discomfort.

According to the American Chiropractic Association an improperly adjusted chair can cause you a multitude of problems including lower-back pain, carpal-tunnel syndrome and even rotator cuff strain in your shoulder—and that just for a chair that’s too low. A chair that’s set too high can lead to Golfer’s Elbow, which is pain and inflammation on the inside part of the elbow.

Are you ready to adjust your chair—and then teach your co-workers?  The first step is to get up on your feet and stand in front of your chair (with the chair facing you, see the illustration). Now, adjust the height so the highest point of the seat is just below your knee cap. With the chair seat at this height, your feet ought to be flat on the floor with your back upright. If everything is correct, your knees will be at a 90 degree angleperfect chair height

Once your chair is set to the optimum height you may notice that some other parts of your workstation are not ergonomic.

Desktop height

You should be able to easily fit your legs under the top of the desk and move them around comfortably.  If you’re bumping the underside of the desk then your desk is probably too low for a proper fit for you.  Have the desk raised with some type of risers or take the opportunity to find a new desk that that is the correct height.

Keyboard height

It’s not uncommon to get the chair to the ideal height only to find you have to raise your arms to reach the keyboard. That means your work surface is too high and your arms will quickly tire.  See if there is a way to lower the top of the desk or workstation.  Some find it helpful to install a pull-out keyboard tray that swivels and/or tilts. If a keyboard tray is not in the plans you may adjust the chair height so your elbows are at the same level of your desktop.  That may make your seat too high for your feet to comfortably reach the floor.  If that’s the case use a footrest that allows your feet to sit flat on the footrest.

You can see more information for ergonomic workstation setup at Spine-Health.com.

 

Ergonomic, Schmergonomic. Can The Way You Sit Really Affect Productivity?

You bet it can.

We’ve all heard the term ‘ergonomics’. But what does it really mean? By definition ergonomics is “the applied science of equipment design, as for the workplace, intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort.” This means providing furniture that adapts to people, so they can spend more time on tasks comfortably and less time away from their workstations.

Ergonomics does indeed have an impact on the bottom line. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association surveyed roughly 29,000 computer users and found that 52.7 % were working with at least one form of daily musculoskeletal discomfort. The average lost productive time among those experiencing discomfort was more than 5.2 hours per week.

“Musculoskeletal discomfort” can mean any of the following conditions: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Raynaud’s Phenomenon, Trigger Finger, Rotator Cuff Syndrome, Epicondylitis, Herniated spinal disc, Sciatica or Tension Neck Syndrome. Considering how common they are, you probably know someone who is suffering from one of these conditions.

So, what can be done to ensure employees a more comfortable/efficient work experience?

Ergonomics can actually be boiled down to four key challenges we all encounter at our desk.

  • Hand & Wrist Posture
  • Task Seating
  • Monitor Positioning
  • Task Lighting

Everything from the way you hold your mouse to the way you sit or even the available light at your desk have an impact on your overall comfort at work. This in turn, affects productivity.

4 QUICK TIPS TO IMPROVE ERGONOMICS IN YOUR OFFICE:

1. Don’t assume it’s ergonomic.
The purpose of ergonomics is to ensure health and safety, but just because a product says it’s ‘ergonomic’ doesn’t mean it’s safe to use. There’s currently no regulatory oversight to keep companies from labeling products in this manner or marketing something as the Ergo-Chair, for example. And forget what your mother told you about it always being best to sit up straight – it’s simply not true. Studies have shown that it’s best to recline slightly, to put less stress on your spine.
2. There can be too much of a good thing
A popular misconception is that the more adjustable a piece of equipment is, the more ergonomic it is. Yet every chair and every person is different. It’s actually dangerous to have too much control if it means that a chair or workstation is configured in a way that’s unhealthy. The sad reality is that most people don’t adjust their chair, even if the option is available.
3. Don’t forget the lighting
Lighting is the most important element for maintaining good eyesight and the type of lighting is just as important as your ability to adjust its position. Reading on-screen and reading on-paper have different requirements for minimizing eye strain. There’s also the issue of glare and the need to minimize it. All this, plus there’s an emotional benefit to having good light while you’re working.
4. Educating with ergonomics
It’s not enough to buy the right furniture. You should promote ergonomic safety as well. Make sure that your monitor height is correct, that you minimize glare and be sure to take breaks from repetitive motions and tasks. Having ergonomic furniture and helping others adjust it appropriately is the best way to ensure that your co-workers and employees stay healthy and productive at work.

For more research and ideas, you can read the Office Ergonomics Handbook by Knoll. Does  your office think “ergonomically?”

Today’s Office for Today’s Business

Today's office for today's business

Not only has advancing technology changed the way we do business, it has changed the types of businesses being started. And this requires office environments that allow innovative commerce to flourish. Today’s office for today’s business.

 

 

Seamless’ new corporate office in New York City is a great example of a workplace designed to amplify what they do. Seamless.com, the largest food ordering platform, now offers menus from 7,500 restaurants, in 37 cities.

This requires offering personal service on a global scale – and that demands a corporate office that is flexible for rapid growth with strength to reach the world.

Media Bistro’s recent episode of Cubes shows how Seamless has successfully created an environment that feeds creativity, sales and service in 28,000 sq. ft, for 125 employees.

Below are just a few things we noticed. Does your business need today’s office?

  • Huge pantry area for restaurants to showcase their great food
  • Huge cafeteria for employees complete with candy machines
  • Interactive TV wall with worldwide weather since the elements have such an impact on food delivery.
  • Open spaces for collaboration
  • 18 conference rooms with Skype capabilities for meetings around the world
  • Leadership tables where pooling resources starts at the top
  • Creative brainstorming rooms with dry-erase walls and even sketch pad tables.
  • Ergonomic chairs throughout to reduce stress, inspire thoughts and increase productivity.
  • Playrooms including ping pong tables, an X-Box and arcades, bring folks together for fun, creativity and brainstorming