One of the most critical yet often overlooked elements ensuring employees are able to work to their fullest potential is the ergonomic design of the work station. In a business environment, in which productivity is absolutely everything, having people working in the properly designed furniture can lead to better comfort and improved posture. This can result in less pain and better posture, and better health overall. Even more importantly, it can allow for people to work more efficiently and comfortably throughout the day, without the need to take quite as many breaks simply because they are uncomfortable.
Providing employees with the proper furniture and work station setup to promote ergonomics can pay off in a multitude of ways. Productivity is number one on the list. Employees who are comfortable are able to work for longer periods of time between breaks, and often at a faster rate. In addition, employees who feel that their employers are truly concerned about making their workplace as comfortable as possible tend to appreciate that, and as a result, are often willing to go that extra mile to try to get the job done.
Another benefit of having furniture and work stations designed with ergonomics in mind is the fact that ergonomically designed furniture, in which people can spend as much as one-half of their waking hours during the work week, can help to improve overall health. Many conditions can develop as a result of the repetitive motions that take place at the typical work station. Among these injuries can be neck strain, eye strain (from constantly straining one's eyes to read copy that is placed too far away), or carpal tunnel syndrome, which can occur in the wrists and forearms of those who spend long periods of time typing. Ergonomically designed work stations, beginning with furniture, can dramatically improve or eliminate these injuries.
Ergonomics has long been considered by employers when stocking their office environments, and furniture such as chairs and desks, as well as keyboards, have often been selected with ergonomic design in mind. However, it is important to consider the whole picture when it comes to providing employees with ergonomically designed work stations. For example, many employees complain of neck or back stiffness or discomfort from merely sitting in the same upright and rigid position all day while looking at their computer. To combat this, many employers are switching to products that actually recess the computer screen at a 35 degree angle within the desk, which allows for the operator to view the screen at a pleasing angle, much the same angle as one would read a book, leading to less discomfort in the neck and back, and often, an improvement in posture because there is less pain. Overall, this tends to provide a much more comfortable user experience, and is a clear indicator that ergonomics goes far beyond just chairs and keyboards.
Creating ergonomically comfortable work stations is not terribly expensive, as most furniture, nowadays, is created with this concept in mind. It really does not cost much more to buy an ergonomic chair than a traditional chair, or an ergonomic keyboard as opposed to a traditional one. And an ergonomic desk which places the computer monitor at the ideal position for neck, posture, and eye benefits, is not much more expensive than a traditional desk. However, despite these small costs, the benefits can be significant in regards to employee comfort, health, satisfaction, and ultimately, productivity.
Download NOVA's FREE Computer Health Handbook for more tips on working healthy.