What is an Ergonomic office?

What is an Ergonomic office?


Let’s start with what on earth does the word Ergonomics mean?  It certainly is not one of those words that you hear in everyday conversation. So how do you go about setting up an ergonomic office? What is a workplace ergonomics assessment?

The Colins English dictionary define it as: the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment’

The word comes from the Greek language and can actually be split into two – ‘Ergo’ meaning work, and ‘Nomos’ meaning law. So, when you combine the two, the word becomes ‘Ergonomics’ (the law of working). 

How do you create an ergonomic office?

When setting up an office there are many things to consider.  No longer can you just plonk a desk in a dark corner, with no light or ventilation.  To complete an workplace ergonomics assessment consideration needs to be given to practical issues such as:

  • Workstation height
  • PCs/Laptops risers
  • Monitor height
  • Chair functionality
  • Keyboard and wrist rests
  • Mouse design

And even further consideration needs to be given to areas such as:

  • Office interior
  • Heating and lighting
  • Ventilation
  • Wall colours
  • Ambience
  • Plants

Whether you are based in an office environment or working from a home office as a remote worker, the same principles apply when setting up an ergonomic office.

There are many organisations who offer advice on how to complete an ergonomic assessment.  If you are unsure how to complete an assessment you can hire in specialist organisations to conduct one for you.  Or if you are happy to give it a go yourself there is a wide variety of online information, including downloadable templates that you can complete in-house to ensure you are set up correctly.

Have I got my ergonomic office set up correctly?

Well, you will soon know if you haven’t! 

Have you stopped work at the end of the day, stepped away from your workstation and felt stiff and sore?  This could indicate that you need to check out how your workstation is set up. 

If your chair is not in the correct position, or your desk is not at the right height, you will be putting your body in an unnatural working position.  You may experience muscle and joint pain, especially in the spine and neck area, again this could be consistent with your desk and monitors not being at the correct height.  Simple things like the working environment being too hot, too cold, or poor ventilation will also have an impact.

Should I care about office ergonomics?

The simple answer is ‘yes’.  If you can design a well thought out ergonomic working environment, taking all the suggestions listed above into consideration, you will not only have somewhere nice to work from, but you will also remain productive throughout the day as you will be more comfortable in the ergonomically designed space.

Well-designed workspaces, whether in the office or working from a home office, will allow for a more pleasant working environment, this will boost morale and hopefully productivity!

What should I focus on?

Whether you use an external organisation to complete your workplace ergonomics assessment, or you carry out your own assessment in-house, take the time to discover what is right for you and the environment you are going to work in.

Remember ergonomics as defined in the dictionary means ‘the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment’.  Therefore, you need to have an overarching view of both the space and equipment.

Here’s a few things for you to think about regarding equipment, just to get you started.

Equipment

Chair 

  • is it height adjustable
  • is there lumber support
  • does it have/need arm support
  • is there a headrest

Desk/workstation

  • what size is the work surface
  • is it height adjustable
  • do you need a seated or standing desk
  • can you sit with your knees comfortably underneath
  • can you put your feet flat on the floor
  • do you need a footrest

Monitors

  • are they at head height
  • can they be height adjusted
  • is your single monitor centrally positioned
  • are multiple monitors positioned correctly
  • consider position of monitors to avoid sunlight causing glare

Keyboard & wrist rests

  • are they height adjustable
  • do they provide support
  • can they be cleaned easily

Mouse

  • is it wireless or USB
  • does it fit comfortably in the hand

Then remember you also need to think about the environment you are working in.  So, here’s your next list of things to consider.

Environment

Position

  • check where you are positioning the workstation – is there good clearance around it
  • is it close to a natural light source
  • how much artificial light do you need?

Ambience

  • is there a natural air source
  • can you adjust the heating for the winter months
  • is there air-conditioning for the summer months

Wall colours

  • are they bright and cheerful or dark and gloomy

Plants

  • bring a bit of nature indoors – especially important for office’s located in city centre/built up locations

Conclusion

If you can spend a bit of time working out how to set up an ergonomic office you should find that it will be an enjoyable location to work in. 

Don’t take things for granted, complete an assessment and see where you can introduce small changes which could have a big impact on your day to day working environment.

If you can think of anything else drop us a line and we can add it to our list.