In recent years, the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment has become increasingly more prominent for determining factors of productivity which brought to our attention, ergonomics. Ergonomics is about designing the environment for the individual, fitting a workplace to the users’ needs to optimise the way they work. Employees that feel comfortable and safe tend to be more creative, positive and exert more energy, therefore producing a better quality and increased quantity of work.
Every business wants a productive workforce, so focusing your attention on ergonomics is a no-brainer to help boost employee wellness and in turn increase profit. So how do we optimise the work environment to boost productivity? Read our tips here:
- Provide ergonomic chairs
It’s essential to provide chairs that offer suitable support, especially for office workers who spend a lot of time in their chair. Unsuitable sitting positions can lead to serious back problems (and ultimately time away from the office due to illness!). The chair should allow users to lean back a little whilst supporting the lower back (additional support can be added to chairs that don’t currently have this feature). An adjustable-height chair is the best option to allow for adaptability, so feet can be placed flat on the ground whilst the knees are bent at a 90º angle.
- Adjust the keyboards
Typing all day, every day whilst in an incorrect position can cause various serious problems to the joints or muscles, the main issue being Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – this condition is caused by compression of the median nerve. To avoid this, encourage your employees to keep their wrists straight and flat (keyboards at 10º are best to keep wrists flat), with their forearms parallel to the floor.
- Position the monitors
Correcting the monitors’ positioning can reduce eye, neck and shoulder fatigue and strain.
- Position the monitor at least 20 inches from the eyes – this is equivalent to about an arm’s length away.
- When looking directly at the monitor, the eyes should be level with the top of the screen and should require the user to look slightly downwards to view the middle.
- Ensure the monitor is placed in a position that avoids glare from windows and lights in the office.
- Set the temperature
The environment in which your employee’s work can be highly influential on their productivity and alertness. Finding a temperature to suit everyone in the office can be difficult – but research into the optimum office temperature has found it to be 22 – 24 ºC. Offices that are too warm can cause employees to feel sleepy and lethargic.
- Improve the lighting
The amount and type of lighting has a huge impact on a worker’s productivity. Employees working in offices with lots of windows/natural lighting often have more energy and are more alert compared to employees who work in environments with artificial lighting. Lighting should not cause glare off walls, screen or windows as this can be damaging to the eye – glare can be reduced with matt paint, monitor positioning and blinds.
- Encourage breaks
Employees that sit in the same position for hours on end can begin to feel lazy and fatigued, which can dramatically decrease efficiency. Encouraging your team to stand up and walk around will get their bodies’ circulatory system working, helping to circulate more oxygen around their bodies and to their brains. This is a key factor for fighting fatigue – better than gulping down numerous coffees. There are many simple ways you can get employees up and moving, for example:
- Encourage employees to go over to a colleague desk to speak to them rather than email them.
- Purchase wireless office phones so employees can wander whilst they talk.
- Encourage employees to get some exercise on their lunch break even if this is just a walk around the block.
- Having walking meetings, instead of sitting in a meeting room why not go for walk whilst discussing business.
- Provide a healthy snack area, with things such as fruit and nuts, at the other side of the office to get employees up and moving.
Managing office ergonomics for all employees doesn’t need to be time-consuming or costly; there are many ways to help decrease the stress, for example educating employees about the benefits and risks to increase compliance rates.
Written by: Becky Morris