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Healthy Workspace Guide To Great Posture

Healthy Workspace Guide To Great Posture

#1 STEP-BY STep Guide to great posture Here's an introductory step by step guide on how to get the most out of your standing desk from day one.  if you haven't got a standing desk, then simply skip to the sitting section for a guide to great posture while sitting. To...


Healthy Workspace Guide To Great Posture

Healthy Workspace Guide To Great Posture

#1 STEP-BY STep Guide to great posture Here's an introductory step by step guide on how to get the most out of your standing desk from day one.  if you haven't got a standing desk, then simply skip to the sitting section for a guide to great posture while sitting. To...


Healthy Workspace Guide To Great Posture

Healthy Workspace Guide To Great Posture

#1 STEP-BY STep Guide to great posture Here's an introductory step by step guide on how to get the most out of your standing desk from day one.  if you haven't got a standing desk, then simply skip to the sitting section for a guide to great posture while sitting. To...


Healthy Workspace Guide To Great Posture

Healthy Workspace Guide To Great Posture

#1 STEP-BY STep Guide to great posture Here's an introductory step by step guide on how to get the most out of your standing desk from day one.  if you haven't got a standing desk, then simply skip to the sitting section for a guide to great posture while sitting. To...

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Why is ergonomics so important?

15 August 2022

Why Is Ergonomics So Important?

It is almost impossible now to find a standing desk or office chair without the word ergonomic in it’s tile of description.  It has become the buzz word with almost every office product, even down to ergonomic grip on a pencil, or ergonomic level on a seemingly basic foolscap file!  So, is ergonomics a huge marketing ploy, or does it really add value to the occupants on today’s workspaces?

The truth is, once you have discovered what ergonomics really means, you’ll be able to decide for yourself what is going to genuinely help, and which products have been called ergonomic for a quick sale to the unsuspecting buyer.

Why Ergonomics is so important

Ergonomics is the study of a persons efficiency in their working environment, and hails from the Greek work ergon, which is to work.  It is also known as human engineering or human factors engineering, and most importantly, covers safety.  Safety, includes the users’ short and long-term health, and ensures that a working environment is set up to minimise stress and pressure on the body.  Without consideration for ergonomics in the workplace, it’s users will likely be detrimentally affected in a number of ways covered below.

Knowing more about ergonomics, what it involves and how each element of your mind and body can be affected by ergonomics will hugely help you to ensure that you own workspace is set up correctly, and help you minimise the potential for long-term health problems.

Learning about ergonomics in general, the furniture aspects, and the technology features, and what makes up a complete ergonomic office will help to prepare you and your space for a more productive workday. Is it worth the cost of investing in ergonomic-friendly options? You may be surprised to find the effects of ergonomics have on your efficiency and the efficiency of those around you.  We will also cover elements of ergonomic and ergonomic technology to broaden your understanding.


Effects of Ergonomics

Getting ergonomics wrong is the cause of many health issues in the workplace. A large proportion of these issues are musculoskeletal disorder such as carpel tunnel syndrome, strain of the lower back, and tendonitis.  Introducing a policy or focus on ergonomics will vastly reduce the chances of these issues arising.  So the main positive effects of ergonomics are:

  • Improved physical health and wellbeing – prevention of injury and long-term repercussions is they key reason to be aware of ergonomics.
  • Improved mental health – The positive effects of a healthy workspace are wildly underestimated by many when it comes to mental health – remember that if your body is comfortable and well supported, your mind will be in a better place too!
  • Ability to work more efficiently – with all furniture and equipment designed to support your body’s natural positioning and reduce unnecessary strain, it has an instant effect on how much work you can get done in any period. Ergonomic keyboards for example, mean that you must do less stretching and ensure that your hands and forearms are in the most natural position.  Employees have also proven to be less tired when using an ergonomic setup, which reduces stress and enables them to achieve more

Below, we look at some of the specifics of ergonomic products and technology and how they can help.


Ergonomic Furniture

Ergonomic furniture is just furniture that has been designed to allow comfortable sitting, standing or working for extended periods. The best ergonomic furniture is promoted and backed by medical professionals that are highly trained and knowledgeable and believe in the benefits it can offer the body. It is designed for both comfort and for the prevention of injury.


Ergonomic Chairs

The ergonomic chair is one of the most common pieces of ergonomic furniture to be marketed. It is highly important to understand what really makes a chair ergonomic, so you are able to call out the companies who use the word as a sales tool, without backing up their claim with practical functionality!  Ergonomic chairs usually feature an adjustable lumbar support, or specially designed curvature to support the back, and often the neck. Another key feature of an ergonomic chair is the ability to adjust its height.  If there is no way to adjust the height, then it is likely not to be ergonomic, as there is no such thing as one size fits all in ergonomics!

To sit correctly in an ergonomic chair, it is important that your feet are flat on the floor. Your knees should be in line with, or just slightly below your hips. Your hips should be placed back in the chair and your shoulders should be roughly in line with your pelvis. Depending on the type of chair you are using, the back should be adjusted to it is tilting back away from your body only 10-20° off vertical giving a slight recline. Ensure that your shoulders are kept relaxed, and your wrists are parallel to the floor and in line with your elbows. If you follow this guide whenever sitting at a desk, it will vastly improve your posture, your productivity, and reduce risks of long-term damage to your body.


Ergonomic Desks

The desk is also a key piece of ergonomic furniture. While there are many ergonomic options for desks available to buy, such as the standing desk, there are also ways to improve your existing desk in terms of ergonomics. Ensure your mouse and keyboard are positioned so that your elbows can remain by your side and bent at a 90° angle. This would position your keyboard just a couple of inches above your thighs – so you may need to use a keyboard tray or invest in an adjustable height desk.

Following this, you will want to position your laptop screen or monitor in a way that you can see clearly without putting strain on your neck. For most people, this is about an arm’s length away from your body at sitting position with your hips back in the chair. The top of the screen should be around eye level – typically your eyes will automatically rest just a few inches below the top of the screen. It should also be very slightly angled downward to reduce glare.

If you choose to use an ergonomic standing desk such as the Advance by Lavoro Design, the same positioning rules apply when you are standing up. It is important to understand that standing all day and sitting all day both can have seriously adverse effects on your health, so seated desk users should take frequent walking breaks and users of standing desks should go for a walk or take a seat throughout the working day. A standing desk with electric adjustment is the best way to ensure a good mix of both sitting and standing throughout the day.


Other Ergonomic Furniture

There are many other ergonomic furniture options available outside of the traditional desk and chair. Example of this are kneeling chairs and stools and desktop PC risers. Whilst a lot of these items aren’t traditionally found in an office environment, it is important to recognise the features for what they are, and only use these items if they positively contribute to good posture and improved ergonomics.  Remember, just being comfy isn’t always an indicator of good ergonomics, and neither is the standalone fact that something allows you to work faster!

Great posture is the key, and you will often find that it is difficult to get comfortable in an ergonomic chair unless you have set it up properly and you are using the advice given above when seated.  You won’t automatically have good posture just by buying the desk or chair – you really have to invest in your body and use it in the way it was intended to be used.

Headaches can often be caused by muscle strain. Improving your posture can solve this problem and help avoid it occurring again in the future. Pain typically in the lower back, shoulders, and neck but also in all your joints can often be the result of poor posture. The use of ergonomic furniture can help to relieve the effects of these pains. Poor posture will also generally result in fatigue and reduced capacity of the lungs. Correcting action to improve posture with ergonomic furniture will never fail to give some improvement to your mental and physical health, and in most cases will result in an instant increase in productivity!


Ergonomic Equipment

While ergonomic furniture is a well-accepted significant contributor when it comes to solving aches and pains from use of traditional office furniture, ergonomic equipment provides a debate for many people. Many would argue that an ergonomic keyboard and mouse makes a huge impact on their posture, but as it is often unusual looking or expense, it is not taken into consideration anything like as much as it should be. Your body will always tell you if it could be better, and the Covid-19 pandemic was a huge awakening to people who through they could get by using a dining chair at their dining room table for months on end, without taking into effect the neck and back problems it was crating for the future. 

Ergonomic keyboards are a great addition to your ergonomic arsenal.  Sadly, they aren’t hugely popular, as experienced typists can be unwilling to adapt to the new layout of the keys. Where most people are used to a standard keyboard, ergonomic options can feature a split, reduced size, or curved keyboard. These options allow the user’s wrists to stay at a natural angle. Although it can take a few days to adapt to using a new style of keyboard, once an ergonomic keyboard has been adapted to you will have a vastly improved typing experience, better posture, and improved productivity. Regardless of ergonomics, it is of note that everyone has different sized hands, and you very rarely see junior keyboards, over sized keyboards, or gender specific keyboards!  This amplifies the need to find the right keyboard for your own personal needs.

Comfort is often the most focused on facet of ergonomics but the most important feature, for which the concept was intended is the prevention of injury or relief of pain from a previous injury. Although the results of a 2010 study were found to be inconclusive regarding the ability to prevent typing induced injuries with an ergonomic keyboard, many more recent specialists claim that the results of the study being inconclusive were down to the fact that that the term “ergonomic” was unregulated, which means that any company wishing to build sales of their products can label them as ergonomic, with no supporting evidence or consequences if caught. An ergonomic banana for example, who could argue otherwise?

The ergonomic mouse is subject to a lot less controversy than the ergonomic keyboard.  The standard mice that come with computers or are sold by most shops are in fact not ergonomic.  On these mice, the user’s wrist is constantly twisted away from its natural position, and under much stress as the wrist is forced into doing a lot more work than it should. It isn’t widely known that you should be using your shoulder and elbow for movement of the mouse, rather than your wrist. As a result of incorrect wrist movement attributed to the standard issue mouse, frequent mouse use can have a serious negative impact on the tendons in the wrist.

An ergonomic mouse generally comes in the form of a vertical mouse.  A vertical mouse is controlled primarily by using the larger arm muscles and shoulders. This reduces the twisting and turning of the wrist, which reduces the risk of injury or the development of carpel tunnel syndrome. Typically, once a vertical mouse has been adapted to, its users will be more efficient than they were using a traditional mouse and will experience a more comfortable strain-free working day. With wrist pain being no longer a complaint, employees will feel more fulfilled and happier in their roles. The distraction of aches and pains as a result mouse use will disappear.  It may seem extreme, but it happened in the past – employees will not have to miss work for corrective surgery to fix the damaged tendons in the wrist.  To get the most out of anyone, all options for ergonomics should be considered rather than just focusing on one element.

Monitor Arms – these will assist you in getting your screens to a perfect height to enable great posture.  A good monitor arm will also be easily adjustable and enable multiple users to use the desk without having to spend hours getting it right.  It also means that if the user’s sitting and standing positions vary slightly, it is easy to adapt the monitors to suit.


Ergonomic Office Costs

A fully ergonomic office could cost a significant amount more that a standard office fit-out. When you consider the cost-savings through the decreased likelihood of work-related illness and injury, and the opportunity cost of increased productivity and increased output, it soon pales into insignificance.  With this in mind, it is to be considered an investment, both into the company, yourself, and any other employees.  Below, we look at the costs for a basic ergonomic setup.

A good quality ergonomic office chair will cost anywhere from £500 to £2000, with the best value for money options being around £1000 to £1200. There are many chairs that are far more expensive and some that can be found for less, but most people would expect to spend upwards of £500 – and with chairs, you will always get more if you pay more, as you aren’t just paying for raw materials, you are also paying for technology, R&D, and for the extensive testing they go through.

There are huge numbers of ergonomic adjustable standing desks available on today’s market.  Any desk that is sold for less than around £500 is usually a low-quality product that has been imported from the far-east and will cost a lot more long-term as they typically have a way shorter life-span, shorter guarantee, and have a had a huge impact on the environment already in order to get them to your door. You should be able to get a good quality standing desk for around £800, and again the more you pay, the more you will get in terms of functionality, guarantee and service.

Ergonomic keyboards generally start at around £50 and can be as much as £300.  Healthy Workspace advise to look somewhere between the two price bands, to ensure good level of functionality without compromising on quality and product lifespan.

Ergonomic vertical mice also vary massively, with serios options varying from £60-£150.  Our advice is to find one for less than £100 that has guarantee of 3 years upwards.

A good monitor arm will usually be around the £90-£200 mark, depending on how many monitors you are likely to be using it for.  Make sure you invest in a heavy duty one, as cheaper models can bend and go out of shape if they have been made from a lower quality metal or have been mass produced in China. Consider the size and weight of your monitors before jumping into purchasing a cheap one!

It is important consider the fact that these ergonomic injuries account for an average of 12 missed workdays per year.  For most companies, this cost is a whole lot more to the business that the cost of the difference in cost between standard office furniture, and furniture that has been designed in an ergonomic fashion.


Why Take Ergonomics Seriously in the Workplace?

It is now clear why ergonomics should be key focus for all in the office. By investing in ergonomic workspaces, companies have control over the ability to reduce the number of days at work missed, reduce risk of employee injury, and affect productivity. With all of these factors, increases will be seen in employee health (both physical and mental), efficiency and quality of work produced.

Further to this, employees will be made to feel more valued if they are aware of the investment their employers have made into their comfort and wellbeing. Even if the employees of a company are not aware of the financial amount that has been invested into each of them, the investment will be obvious to them in the thought that has gone into catering for their mental and physical wellbeing.  Happy employees are productive employees, so investing in a good ergonomic set up is one of the best and most underestimated employee retention strategies, and once you have spread the cost over a few years, you’ll also begin to realise it is also one of the cheapest employee retention strategies too!

Companies that look after the needs of their employees, will always find that their employees will never cease to look after the needs of their employer.