In these unusual times, many of your employees may be working from home. It’s likely they have taken steps to create an ideal working space to make the experience more comfortable, and to enhance their productivity. Before they return to your small business’s workspace, take time to evaluate and improve your office ergonomics.
Here’s a brief overview of what ergonomics is, its benefits and how to incorporate it into your team’s environment:
Origins of ergonomics
In layman’s terms, ergonomics is the study of fitting a workplace to the user’s needs, to increase productivity and efficiency while minimizing physical fatigue. World War II-era plane designers invented the term “ergonomics” when designing cockpits for the British Royal Air Force. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the principle dates from ancient times in Greece, when Hippocrates gave guidelines for how a surgeon should organize their tools and workspace.
Benefits of having an ergonomic work environment
According to OSHA, enhancing the ergonomics of your office is advantageous for your small business for a variety of reasons. For starters, an ergonomic workspace helps staff stay happy and healthy. This boost in employee morale fosters productivity and retention. It also reduces physical fatigue, resulting in fewer injuries on the job. That means workers will take fewer sick days and submit fewer workers’ compensation claims, which will save your business time and money.
Improvements you can make -
Make sure desks are high enough for personnel to sit comfortably with enough space for their knees and legs. Wrist rests will cushion your staff member’s wrists against the hard edge of the desk to prevent chafing and soreness when they’re working. You can elevate a desk that’s too short by putting blocks under the desk legs. If a desk is too high, switch out the employee’s chair with a taller one.
How staff members sit at their desks is important from an ergonomic standpoint. Each chair should support the curve of the spine and allow the employee to adjust the height of both the seat and the armrests to suit their body’s unique proportions. Employees should sit upright with their knees about level with their hips and their feet on the ground. The proper armrest height should allow them to relax their shoulders while typing or doing other tasks at their desk.
Place the computer monitor on the desk approximately an arm’s length away from the employee’s position while seated. Adjust the top of the monitor screen so that it sits at or a bit below their eye level to minimize neck strain. Give headsets to staff that frequently use the phone so they can type notes while on calls with clients. This will keep them more comfortable instead of hassling with a corded phone while typing notes.
Each employee should keep commonly used items — like staplers, telephones and tablets —within easy reach. Encourage them to stand up if they need to access objects they can’t comfortably obtain while seated.
For more information about improving your office’s ergonomics, OSHA’s website has a lot of helpful tips. It’s a great first step in revamping your business’s workspace to keep employees healthy, happy and comfortable, while increasing overall efficiency and productivity.