With one quick search online you can see that the choice of office chairs and desks is endless. But the selection of the right one can have an impact on the health of your team. Poor posture can lead to crippling health issues such as carpal tunnel and tendinitis. Desks and chairs designed correctly, however, help prevent these problems while at the same time increasing morale, productivity, and efficiency. Employees care about the environment in which they work. From aesthetics to functionality, an office needs to accommodate employees. Ergonomic office furniture helps provide employees with comfort. While comfort makes the work experience more enjoyable, it is proven that ergonomic furniture makes the workplace more productive.
What is Ergonomic Office Furniture?
When people think about ergonomic furniture, they usually think about comfortable chairs or seating. Comfortable desk chairs are just a fraction of what constitutes ergonomic furniture. When talking about ergonomic office furniture, the focus is usually on variations of desks, tables, posture supporting chairs, backless chairs, etc. Ergonomic office furniture is a marriage of functionality and comfort. Posture supporting furniture helps limit back pain, neck pain, and other issues that that can be caused by poor posture. This limits distractions throughout long working hours and reduces the need for breaks throughout the work day.
According to the American Posture Institute, a study was conducted that supports the idea that poor posture directly influenced productivity. The study goes on to say the decrease in productivity wasn’t caused by employee absences. The productivity loss was in the workplace. The researchers in the study found that posture breaks helped limit these issues. Ergonomic office furniture can virtually eliminate the need for there posture breaks while maintaining and/or increasing productivity.
The University of North Carolina studied the most important elements in an ergonomic office chair. One of the most beneficial characteristics found in ergonomic desk chairs that supports and encourages good posture is back support. The University of North Carolina goes on to say that arm and neck rests, seat depth and angles, and seat/backrest height might be just as important. The studies show that to get the most out of an office chair, almost all elements of the office chair need to be considered.
The use of ergonomic furniture in the office is on the rise. This is due in part to current studies that support the idea that poor posture directly affects productivity. More offices use exercise balls and sit-stand desks in the office. In addition to improving posture, alternative seating burns more calories as well. WebMD shows that this type of seating burns more calories per hour than traditional seating. This is due to the muscles that are needed to stand that are not active when seated. Sit-Stand desks have several health benefits, including improved circulation and digestion. Not only does this ergonomic furniture benefit the health of employees, it benefits companies too.
Ergonomic Desks and Chairs
The ergonomic desk and chair selection on the market has increased. The main goal is to provide furniture that makes employees comfortable while helping them maintain proper posture. Being able to limit the breaks the employees need, directly increases productivity and efficiency. The sit-stand desk has become more and more common. Essentially just a raised desk that can be lifted or lowered easily to accommodate employees of all heights. What sets these desks apart from a traditional desk is the ability to sit and/or stand. Being able to stand up in the middle of working allows an employee to avoid staying in the same position too long. The sit-stand desk lets an employee keep working.
The main goal is to provide furniture that makes employees comfortable while helping them maintain proper posture.
Desk chairs have evolved over the years to accommodate various health problems. The exercise ball, kneeling chairs, and chairs that force good posture are becoming more mainstream. There has been a shift from using these types of chairs out of necessity, toward using them as preventative measures. Using ergonomic chairs helps limit issues that arise from poor posture altogether.
It is undeniable and proven that these types of changes are effective. Accommodating employees’ needs in the office is something that all employers should do. However, a company that employs a large number of employees might look at these changes as unnecessary and costly. While the initial cost of this furniture might be high, it does prove to be a worthwhile investment. If a large investment isn’t in the budget this year, you can start small. There are simple additions to employees’ desks and surrounding that can still make a big difference. Since many things play into posture, small changes can still have big effects.
Small Ergonomic Office Improvements
Along with the obvious changes that can be made to accommodate health needs, there are slight adjustments that can be made that help with long-term issues. One major thing to be addressed is keyboard usage. The majority of an employee’s time is spent using a keyboard. Much like a desk chair, almost every aspect of keyboard usage needs to be addressed.
Happier, healthier, and more comfortable employees perform better.
Keyboard trays are extendable platforms that slide out from under the desktop. This addresses one of the most common issues with keyboard use. Keyboard trays improve posture by eliminating the need to reach forward. These keyboard trays are evolving into trays similar to television wall mounts. They can extend out from the desk, tilt up and down, and move from side to side allowing the employee to move around. Some include wrist rests. These provide cushions to relieve unnecessary pressure on your wrists. Similar issues can arise from mouse use as well and many types have been developed in hopes to limit or minimize these effects.
Princeton has found that excessive keyboard and mouse usage can be responsible for carpal tunnel, tendinitis, and repetitive strain injury. A few ways to help prevent these problems include relaxing your hands, wrists, and arms while typing or using the mouse. Another practice to limit the risk is to change tasks often. Instead of stopping work, a slight adjustment such as standing instead of sitting can help fix many problems caused by repetitive muscle strain. Very affordable changes can greatly reduce long-term negative effects.
Start with small impactful changes for your employees. The adjustments that can be made to keyboards, mice, and keyboard trays are relatively affordable. While some of the bigger changes such as furniture (desks, chairs, etc.) can be a little more costly, there is proof that they provide improved working conditions for employees. The improved conditions and the increase in productivity benefit everyone.
In an office environment that requires a lot of sitting and typing, ergonomic office furniture is extremely beneficial. Although not all offices benefit equally from the same ergonomic furniture, there is a right fit for everybody. With affordable options, the ability to mitigate long-term health issues can almost be seen as priceless. If you can pair that with an increase in productivity it’s a win, win for everybody.
The success of the company relies on its employees. And if it is possible to accommodate employees, we typically try to. Because this includes specialized or specific needs. If accommodating employees results in an increase in productivity then everybody wins. The negative effects of poorly designed office furniture are literally felt by everyone. Some employees might already have health issues related to poor posture while others may be more prone to it. Regardless, everybody can and eventually will be affected. Whether it is improvements to desks, chairs, or even the addition of wrist rests, these issues can be addressed. Changes do not have to be big to make a big difference. Happier, healthier, and more comfortable employees perform better. Not only can a company improve as a whole, but the quality and working conditions can also improve for the employees.
Want to provide more ergonomic office furniture for your employees? StrongProject can help.