The Ergonomic Office

February 17, 2011

A recent survey conducted by Staples Advantage, the B2B division of Staples, Inc., shows ergonomic office furniture and technology can have a significant impact on how your employees feel – and work.

86% of office workers report some discomfort from office furniture, an aspect of the workplace that isn’t always given the attention it deserves. 

According to the survey results, with a more comfortable workplace:

  • More than 1 in 3 office workers say they would be a more pleasant person to work with;
  • Nearly 1 in 2 say they would be more productive; and
  • 35% say they would feel less stressed at work.

Going ergonomic is still an uncommon topic in the workplace at large, 1 in 3 respondents had not heard of the topic discussed at work, and 70% said that their workspace was not ergonomically adjusted.

“Ergonomics shouldn’t be overlooked until it gets to the point that employees are practically avoiding their own desks,” says Jay Mutschler, senior vice president, Staples Advantage. “Easy ergonomic fine-tuning can have a positive effect in the workplace – not the least of which is keeping employees healthy and happy throughout the workday.”

What’s in a Chair?
Selecting the optimal office chair is important, but it’s also how your office team utilizes their seating:

  • Choose the right chair for tasks – Specialized job functions may necessitate specific chair designs. Consider multi-function chairs for maximum versatility.
  • One size does not fit all – When selecting a chair, consider its ability to conform to various body types. In addition, look for multiple points of adjustability (seat depth, back height, arm height, chair height and tilt tension).
  • Correct posture is key – The best seated position is not an erect 90 degrees, but rather a reclined posture of 100 to 110 degrees. Craning of the neck, tense shoulders or slouching cause strain even with an ergonomic chair.
  • Adjust chairs appropriately – For example, seat height should be adjusted so feet are firmly on the floor, and tilt tension should be adjusted for differing weights.

The Ergonomic Desk
According to the survey results, 86% of office workers do not have an ergonomic keyboard, with 69% of those workers reporting some degree of wrist strain. 

The modern office worker can spend eight or more hours a day in front of the computer, so selection and correct usage of keyboards, mice, and desktop accessories is exceedingly important.

  • Keyboards – Consider ergonomic keyboards, such as the “fixed-split” or “adjustable-split” designs that promote proper finger positioning.
  • The mouse – Keep it on the same level as the keyboard to avoid twisting or reaching. Consider mouse pads with cushions for maximum wrist support.
  • Monitors – Adjust brightness, contrast and screen resolution, and consider non-glare screens, so the display is easy on the eyes. Monitors should be at eye height and about an arm’s length away – positioned so that eyes look forward and slightly downward. Look for monitor stands that tilt and swivel for optimal ergonomic positioning.

The Staples Advantage survey highlights some common and inexpensive ergonomic methods to ensure that your office employees are getting the most out of their work environment, and facility managers and building operators stand to reap the rewards of a happier, more productive workplace.