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DATE: 10/28/2015

How comfortable are your employees?

If you haven’t asked yourself this question in a while, it may be time to revisit. As recent studies continue to provide insight into the experience of the modern office worker (and collaborative workspaces, in general), product designers continue to develop creative ergonomic solutions at record speeds.

According to The International Ergonomics Association, ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.

Phew, that was a mouthful. Put simply, ergonomics is the study of making work more pleasant. It’s about modifying the job and/or product to meet the worker’s needs for maximum comfort. Why does this matter?

Not only is a more comfortable employee a healthier employee, they’re also a more productive employee. According to The Department of Labor, 70 percent of U.S. workers sit in an office, with the majority staring at a computer. Reported musculoskeletal injuries cost employers $20 billion in workman’s compensation, medical expenses and decreased productivity; they also account for 34 percent of all work-related injuries, according to The Society of Human Resource Management.

Besides general health and wellbeing, the benefits of taking the time to ergonomically assess your office space are often increased productivity, commitment and engagement. Here are 3 ways to begin creating a more ergonomic collaborative workspace for your employees.

1. Conduct Individual Workspace Assessments

An ergonomically sound workspace begins with attention to detail. Thought should be given to all actions an employee takes during a given day, how they move to complete those actions and what can be done to make movement flow as seamlessly as possible.

  • Position monitors an arm’s length away from the worker and ensure their sight is aligned with the top of the device.
  • Ensure keyboards are flushed with the underside of the elbows (shoulders should be relaxed)!
  • Adjust chairs so that legs are parallel to the floor and feet are flat. (keep a few fingers of space between the back of the knees and the edge of the chair).

2. Build Movement Into The Space

Over the past couple years, several media stories have surfaced on the detrimental health effects of sitting for long periods of time. Most recently, scientists have been speaking to the specific benefits of standing in the workplace. Replacing some of your sitting time with standing can improve sugar, fat, and cholesterol levels in the blood, according to the European Heart Journal.

  • Design your collaborative workspace with a few standing height desks to give employees the option to alternate between sitting + standing throughout the day.
  • Create multi-purpose meeting rooms that encourage workers to travel around the office throughout the day.
  • Encourage employees to do whatever they need to feel comfortable (ie.taking routine breaks to walk, stretch or “bounce”).

3. Improve Air + Light Quality

According to the World Green Building Council, enhanced air quality results in an eight to 11 percent increase in productivity. And modest degrees of personal temperature adjustments can yield single digest improvements in productivity. Here are some things you can do:

  • Maintain an updated ventilation system that is proven to lower pollutants, CO2 concentrations and high ventilation rates.
  • Recent Study a temperature between 70 and 73 degrees is preferable to “most” workers.
  • Just say no to horrible fluorescent lights! Aim for soft, warmer tones and natural light whenever possible.

Ready to redesign your office? CBI has more than 20 years experience in the interior solutions industry. We also provide complimentary ergonomic assessments for employees after the new design’s in place. Click here to book a consultation.