How to Make Workspaces More Ergonomic

You may hear your employees saying how tired they feel. Maybe one of them has even sustained a mild injury on the job. If this sounds like something that’s happening at your business, you should know that there are things you can do about it.

The last thing you want to do is have employees calling off sick or worse, filing worker’s compensation claims due to inadequate accommodations. When employees aren’t at work, your job flow is interrupted, your output is affected, and your office morale may be negatively affected.

There are simple, often unconsidered ways to make your employees feel more comfortable while they’re at work and avoid repetitive stress or ergonomics-related injury. Factoring these elements into your workplace design and outfitting benefits your employees and your company’s culture and morale.

Tips for Creating a More Ergonomic Workspace

Ergonomics is the science of designing workspaces designed to fit your employees’ capabilities and limitations. The goal is to help you create a comfortable working environment. Doing so is easier than you may think.

1. Choose the Right Chair

A good chair is one of the essential pieces you’ll need to purchase for your ergonomic setup. It is estimated that as many as 38% of office workers experience lower back pain, and as much as 63% experience neck pain, with office workers at the highest incidence of neck disorders (17-21%), as compared to all other industries. A major contributing factor to these statistics is inadequate ergonomics of average office chairs and desks.

There are many chairs available today that call themselves “ergonomic.” Unfortunately, many times this term is used loosely or, worse, dishonestly. For this reason, you need to know what to look for when you’re buying dozens of chairs to outfit your office. 

Important Considerations

There are several factors you need to take into consideration:

  • Height: Make sure that you choose a chair whose height is adjustable. Doing so will allow your employees to place their feet on the floor with their thighs parallel to the ground. If your employees use a tall desk, you should purchase a footrest or stool-style drafting chair to achieve this correct position.
  • Backrest: Choose an office chair that reclines at least 135 degrees back and has an adjustable tilt. Make sure it also has tension control. These features will allow your employees to remove stress from their spines. It’s especially beneficial for anyone who’s already suffering from back pain to be able to modify their position throughout the day to limit stress on the vertebrae.
  • Lumbar Support: The way the backrest is shaped should provide the back with a natural curve. This design will offer the lower back the support it needs. Avoid chairs that have poor lumbar support or require a lower back pillow to be made ergonomic.
  • Seat Depth: You should choose a chair that has a seat depth adjustment.  This will allow your the ability to set the depth just for you.  When you sit in the chair, you should be able to place at least 3 fingers between the back of your knee and the front of your seat.
  • Arm Rests: While it’s great to know that the chair’s armrests are adjustable for height, it’s also essential that they can pivot. This feature because it ensures that the whole forearm is supported for daily activities such as typing and mouse movement, no matter the size or build of the individual employee. Even better, a 4D arm is the best. These arms allow not only height and width adjustment but also front to back as well as pivoting.
  • Material: Make sure that the chair you choose has adequate support and quality materials. Ensure that the chair is not compensating for poor design with excess cushion in the seat (a recipe for disaster for those with back problems). Materials that are made from either breathable or mesh fabric are often your best option, as they provide flexible support and comfort.
  • Adjustability: The more adjustable your chair is, the more likely it’ll work for the majority of your employees. Take some time to find something that everyone will enjoy using over the long term.
  • Warranty: Be sure you choose a chair with a good warranty.  Don’t be fooled  by “Lifetime” warranties. The manufacturer may consider the chair’s “lifetime” to be only a year. Once it starts to break, you will lose all the ergonomic factors you need.

2. Choose the Right Desk

After you choose a chair, the next important consideration is the desk. There are many options available here, including ergonomic desks, desk risers, and keyboard trays. However, your best starting point is an adjustable-height desk.

Important Considerations

Adjustable height desks are beneficial because your employees can set their whole workstation at a comfortable height for their needs at any given time. They can stand while working instead of spending their entire day sitting, a notorious factor that contributes to spinal and muscular issues of the office worker. There are a few things that you should take into consideration:

  • Height Range: The optimal range for an adjustable height desk is 22.6″ to 48.7″
  • Depth: The optimum depth for your main worksurface is 30”. This depth is excellent for people who enjoy spreading out their work, and allows for a comfortable accommodation of a wider variety of computer monitors, phones, and other desk necessities. Your side worksurfaces can be 24″ or deeper depending on your needs and room size
  • Ease of Movement: There are numerous ways in which adjustable desks are raised and lowered (e.g., hand cranks, electric lifts, pneumatic lifts, etc). Hand-cranked lifts can be cumbersome and tiring to use over time, resulting in them being underused. Electronic lifts are often the preferred option, as they are easy to use and give more control over the height of the desk.

Other Ways to Make a More Ergonomic Workspace and Fight Fatigue

Choosing the right chair and desk — while extremely important — are not the only ways to create an ergonomic workspace and fight fatigue. Here are a few other tips to be mindful of.

  • Put monitors directly in front of your employee’s workspace — but not so close as to cause eyestrain.
  • Use ergonomic monitor arms that offer height, tilt, and rotation adjustability.
  • Utilize wrist rests for mice and keyboards to reduce strain and fatigue on the hand and wrist.
  • Use desk pads for keyboards and mice to provide a cushioned desk surface and help lessen fatigue.
  • For shorter employees, purchase footrests so their feet don’t dangle. Feet should be planted firmly on a flat surface.

Creating Your New Ergonomic Workspace

T2B designers listen carefully to understand your organization’s workplace objectives, brand personality and unique culture. Clients value our hands-on involvement and rapid responsiveness from start to finish. 

With a broad range of knowledge and experience, our designers can help maximize the efficiency of your space, boost employee engagement, inspire creativity, improve safety and more. Our designers work with state-of-the art software and provide you with CET design and renderings to help you understand the design vision and provide valuable input early in the process. Big budget or small; new space or renovated space; office, school, hospital or retail, we have designers with the right experience to meet your needs.

Whether you need new flooring, furniture or even an entire new lobby for your hard-working employees and valued clients, contact us today to learn how our designers can meet your needs.