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Understanding Ergonomics In The Modern Office Environment

  • Written by iVillage

Most people are under the impression that ergonomics is all about office furniture such as ergonomic office chairs and accessories which include an ergo mouse or an ergonomic keyboard. Although ergonomic office furniture and chairs are important factors, the concept of ‘effective’ ergonomics go way beyond just office furniture, chairs and accessories. 

It is actually all about health both mental and physical and as such ergonomics involve movement, posture, stretching, aesthetics, lighting, furniture, positioning of equipment, types of accessories and a lot more. Therefore by just having an ergonomic office chair, keyboard and mouse does not mean that you are safe from an ergonomic perspective. 

Among the elements that are often overlooked by people when looking into ergonomics is the importance of movement throughout the day. Even if one owns an ergonomic chair that he or she sits on for hours without getting up, is actually not good at all. What employees must always remember is the fact that ‘movement is an ally’ that one should never ignore. 

In essence, there options that are available to achieve an ideal static working position is very limited within the confines of an office furniture desks and chairs and therefore the best solution towards this issue is to change positions or shift places and walk about or even switch between sitting and standing often. It is due to this that experts on ergonomics advise people to take regular breaks and get out of the chairs that they are sitting in for about 5 to 10 minutes inside every hour. 

This is absolutely necessary to transfer the built up strain between our intervertebral discs which in essence are the spine’s natural shock absorbers. Most office work related injuries occur  due to prolonged sitting especially when employees are glued to their computer screens for two or three hours. It is important for these workers to stand up, walk around or stretch for just a few minutes inside each hour to avoid strain on our back. 

In other words, sporadic light and short 2 minute exercises routines 3 or 4 times during working house go a long way in keeping employees physical and mentally healthy. Such routines do not affect productivity or should not be seen as a waste of company’s time, as a matter of fact such routines have been found to increase productivity significantly. 

Apart from movement and exercise there is also the need for proper lighting as poor or bad lighting cause eyestrain which also reduces productivity and eventually cause employees to start squinting and suffer from blurred vision. Aesthetics of the working environment is also a factor that is related to ergonomics indirectly as a pleasant working environment also keeps office employees happy and when employees are happy, their productivity increases. 

Aesthetics should be deemed as an element of ‘mental ergonomics’ – the brain is after all a muscle as well! Other factors that should be taken into consideration with regards to ergonomics is the positioning of the monitor (distance between eyes and the screen), the positioning of the mouse and keyboard and even the height of the desk. 

In summation, it can said that almost everything around the employee should be conditioned ergonomically not just the office furniture.

The iVillage Magazine

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