Are you an individual looking to create the ideal at-home work environment, or the owner of a company wanting to provide safe and efficient working spaces for your employees? If so, ergonomics is probably a buzz word you are familiar with. But what does ergonomics actually mean, does it matter, and, if it does, how do you create an ergonomic office?
Keep reading to learn all about ergonomic offices and (spoiler alert!) why they do matter.
What is Ergonomics?
We can’t talk about ergonomics without first understanding what it is. According to Merriam Webster, ergonomics is an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.
Perhaps more simply stated by Google, ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment.
With these definitions in mind, an ergonomic office would be one that is conducive to both safety and efficiency. Both of these seem like things that employers and employees alike would value, especially when considering the additional benefits that ergonomic solutions provide.
Benefits of an Ergonomic Office
There are many benefits of ergonomic offices. Not only have they shown to increase productivity by at least 25%, but they also reduce costs and cultivate a more positive work environment. Individuals with ergonomic offices will be more comfortable in their work spaces and experience less pain, discomfort, and risk of musculoskeletal disorders like tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
For employers, these benefits can increase employee retention rate and job satisfaction. Supporting employees by offering ergonomic office equipment to those who desire it can go a long way in showing that you value them and their physical and mental health.
Elements of an Ergonomic Office
There are several essential things that an office needs in order to be ergonomic, as well as several simple habits that individuals can implement on their own to make their offices more ergonomic.
Choosing the right chair is of utmost importance for the ergonomic office. Sitting in a chair for up to eight hours a day can exacerbate neck and back problems—and sitting in the wrong office chair can make existing problems even worse.
Look for an office chair that has:
- Adjustable height
- Lumbar support
- Adjustable backrest
- Padded seating
- Adjustable armrests
A standing desk gives you the option of standing or sitting throughout your day. They can improve posture and reduce back pain caused by extended periods of sitting. Additionally, some studies have shown that standing for part of the workday can actually reduce blood sugar spikes. Even more, standing desks can increase productivity and energy.
Check out even more benefits of standing desks.
Choose a standing desk with a height range of 22.6″ to 48.7″, a depth of 30”, and the weight capacity to hold your equipment. If you opt for a standing desk, you might also consider finding a gel mat to support your feet and increase overall comfort when standing.
Keyboard & Mouse
Yes, keyboards and mice can be ergonomic! They are designed to minimize muscle strain and can even reduce the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Ergonomic keyboards come in several types; typically, they are v-shaped and split down the middle to better accommodate the natural positioning of the hands. Ergonomic mice alleviate wrist strain by reducing the amount you have to twist your wrist to click.
Other Ergonomic Considerations
You can find ergonomic office equipment with all of the features listed above, but if you don’t know how to adjust each of them properly, you won’t see any of their benefits. There are several practices to keep in mind when it comes to setting up and positioning your equipment optimally.
- Your monitor should be at eye level and an arm’s length away.
- Your wrists should be straight.
- Your hands should be at or below eye level.
- Your knees should be level with your hips.
- Your feet should be flat on the floor.
- You should sit in a neutral position.
Bad posture isn’t just about slouching; it can negatively impact your overall wellbeing in a variety of ways. Adopting these postures will protect your neck, back, and more and reduce aches and pains related to improper and prolonged sitting.
You might not be able to create an ergonomic office overnight, but you can start transitioning one element of your office at a time. Eventually, your workspace will be better suited to efficiency and safety. If you work from home full-time, it never hurts to ask if the company compensates for any ergonomic equipment, such as an office chair or desk.
And even if ergonomic equipment is not in your budget and won’t be anytime soon, start implementing the simple (and free!) habits that can improve posture and therefore reduce muscle strain. Ergonomics doesn’t need to be complicated!