Greater comfort means better focus - Why ergonomic Furniture is vital for productivity

April 13th, 2022

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With most New Zealanders still working remotely, business leaders need to ensure their employees have the right office furniture to stay comfortable working from home. 

Providing employees with ergonomic office furniture is a fantastic way to create an ideal working environment, but also for the following:

  • Improved Health – Improper workstation setups can lead to bad posture, aches and pains, increased stress and fatigue, and even chronic health problems. Ergonomic office furniture such as standing desks, monitor arms, and chairs help address these issues by targeting them where they start.
  • Improved Productivity – Ergonomic office furniture can help to improve productivity and focus by reducing excessive movement and awkward working positions. Greater comfort means greater focus and less time spent completing tasks.
  • Increased Quality of Work – Poor ergonomics can lead to irritable and fatigued workers who cannot do their best work. When staff are physically taxed from an uncomfortable office chair or a poorly positioned monitor, they could miss important details or be forgetful. Keep them in top form with office ergonomics.
  • Reduced Business Costs - Think of purchasing ergonomic office furniture as an investment. In the long run, you’ll reduce business costs from wasted employee productivity and efficiency, and compensation costs or sick days due to work-related injuries and illnesses.

Sometimes it's easy to assume that an office role isn't physically demanding, but it's important to recognise this role can still have significant short and long-term effects on the body. To prevent work-related injuries, businesses must recognise the importance of ergonomics in the workplace.

Designing a workspace with ergonomics in mind creates an environment that ensures employees can work efficiently and comfortably. Business leaders need to consider employee health and safety to support the hybrid working model, especially since home workstations don't necessarily meet ergonomic best practices.

Our team has curated the top ergonomic furniture, and some tips from Worksafe's Guidelines for using computers to prevent discomfort and achieve optimal comfort while working.

Standing Desks

The Ministry of Health recommends people take regular breaks due to the adverse effects of prolonged sitting. Numerous studies proved that sitting for long periods is linked to an array of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, breast and colon cancer, and obesity.

 Despite many workers being advised to take regular breaks throughout the day to counteract the adverse health effects of prolonged sitting, this isn't always possible - especially for some who have busy schedules and need to coordinate their personal and professional workload and responsibilities while working from home.

Providing your employees with a standing desk will encourage them to stand, change their position, and effectively reduces the harmful effects of prolonged sitting. Fostering more movement throughout the day helps to counteract the sedentary office lifestyle. A standing desk can also encourage employees to have a better posture, improve their moods, and boost productivity.

Most standing desks are height adjustable, allowing employees to alternate between standing and sitting down. Some standing desks can be configured to a specific height level, allowing employees to personalise them according to their needs.

Ideally, a height-adjustable desk should meet the following requirements for each position:

  • For seated work, the desk should be adjustable from 610 mm to 760mm from the floor to the desk’s top surface.
  • For standing work, the desks should be adjustable from 650mm to 1100mm high to perform most tasks comfortably.

At the same time, ample leg space is needed under the desk to allow movement for postural changes, comfort, and ease of use of the computer and associated tasks. The leg space should be unrestricted and accommodate the knee height and width of 650mm to ensure employees have ample movement. 

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Monitor Mounts

Some monitors can take up valuable desk space and contribute to an untidy workspace. Providing your employees with monitor risers or mounts allows them to maximise their space.

Monitor risers are an excellent solution for employees with neck and back problems allowing them to place the screen at an ideal height, especially since some tend to experience neck and back pains when their screens are positioned too high or low.

As a rule of thumb, the top of your monitor screen should be at eye level and approximately an arms-length away. The eyes are more comfortable with a downward gaze for near work, so a low screen is better than a high screen.

Aside from reducing body strains and clutter, supplying monitor arms to employees adds versatility to the way they work. They're a cost-effective way to ensure monitors can be easily adjusted to suit everyone’s needs. It also contributes to greater employee productivity and wellbeing serving beyond physical comfort.

Aside from standard adjustments such as height and angle, most monitor mounts can rotate the screen or completely change the orientation. This allows employees to switch to portrait mode, and stack dual monitors above each, giving them customisation of their workstation.

Ergonomically designed chairs

Businesses interested in healthier employees producing a higher quality of work should consider investing in ergonomic seating, especially if employees are sitting all day.

According to Worksafe, workers who spend sitting most of the day are prone to strains and other injuries related to posture and repetitive movement.  At the same time, a poor chair design can contribute to short term issues like a lack of focus and reduced productivity, while long-term accumulative effects result in poor posture and back pains.

Ergonomic chairs can help reduce these issues in numerous ways. They're designed to conform to the user's body shape, with higher quality materials providing extra cushioning, ensuring more comfort than a standard chair. They're also designed to support key joints such as shoulders, back, neck, wrists, hips, and knees.

Finding a chair that offers good lower back support is ideal, which minimises the strain on the spine and maintains a modest degree of curvature for minimal muscular tension.

Providing employees with an adjustable chair allows them to get comfortable and adopt a wide range of sitting positions.

Aside from the most obvious benefits, such as improved productivity and posture, business owners can reap the benefits through reduced compensation costs, and the assurance employees will come to work. Over 13,800 injuries are MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders) - the most work-related injury claim resulted in people being away for more than a week. Therefore, business leaders should consider investing in ergonomic office chairs to help cut back on other business costs.

Footrests

An ergonomic footrest is an excellent addition to your employees’ home workstation, providing extra feet support to sit more comfortably during the day.

Ideally, the workstation should be set up to place the feet flat on the floor. An adjustable chair is a great way to achieve an ideal height for the monitor. However, this isn't ideal since the feet are now elevated from the floor, no longer flat, and possibly hanging awkwardly in the air.

A footrest can alleviate this problem, giving additional support to obtain a comfortable leg and foot position. At the same time, it encourages employees to move more, creating variations of working postures throughout the day.

The height of the footrest should allow the person to place their feet comfortably on the rest without any pressure on the underside of the thighs, which allows for a range of seated postures.

Here are the recommended footrest specifications:

  • The footrest slope should be comfortable for the user. The angle of the slope should be adjustable between 0° and 10°.
  • The footrest surface should allow the user to move and vary their foot positions. The recommended minimum dimensions are 350 mm deep by 450 mm wide.
  • The user must be able to adjust the height of the footrest. For seated work, the minimum height adjustment range of 50 mm to 180 mm is recommended.

Additionally, footrests ensure proper posture, effectively improving the entire body and reducing lower back and neck strains.

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