Employers have a duty of care for their team – ensuring that the workplace environment is safe and productive.
And while office workers might not be up on their feet all day or lifting heavy items, there are still plenty of practical considerations that need to be taken into account when equipping the office.
Why does it matter?
Your staff will be happier if they’re more comfortable, and they will be more productive if you’re able to keep them happy. That’s the bottom line – and there are also important health and safety implications. According to Kaiser + Kraft’s guidelines for workstation equipment, more than a quarter of sickness-based company downtime is caused by muscular and skeletal illnesses and problems, many of which may have been caused by the office environment itself.
This means that getting the equipment right is both important for the health of your workers and for the health of your business.
Where to start
Let’s start with the basics: what do your staff actually need? Here are some of the key considerations for a practical workstation:
- Desks and chairs should support good posture, helping to avoid tension and slouching. Ergonomic work chairs are designed specifically to help encourage what’s known as ‘dynamic sitting behaviour’. This helps to avoid the strain put on the body. Getting the height of the workstation right is also key for ensuring that people can maintain the correct posture.
- Your staff need to be able to move around, stimulating muscle activity and encouraging the blood to flow. Staff who are given the space to stretch their legs and flex their muscles will find that there are benefits for their minds as well as for their bodies.
- Eyesight is another important consideration, as the glare from the computer screen or incorrect lighting in the office can lead to eye strain over time – potentially damaging a person’s sight or causing related issues such as headaches. Consider the lighting of the room carefully, and look into glare-free screens for your PCs.
When thinking through these points, you need to consider the unique need of your employees and your workplace. Every office is set up differently, and the way that yours is laid out will impact everything from the type of lighting that you need to how the desks should fit together to maximise each employee’s space.
Similarly, every member of your team is different. Simple things like the optimum height of the workstation will be different for everybody, while some people may have additional physical needs to factor into the desk setup. While the principles we’ve outlined can be used to create an effective general workspace, you will get even better results by carrying out individual desk assessments for each member of your team.
Choosing the right equipment
You’ll get better results if you kit out your office with furniture that has been designed with the ergonomic needs of your workplace in mind. Companies like Kaiser + Kraft understand the needs of the contemporary office, and use this knowledge to produce equipment that aids performance and helps employees feel good.
Some of the most important pieces of equipment to consider include:
- Ergonomically designed office chairs
- Height adjustable (or sit-stand) desks
- Accessories such as arm rests and back supports
- Footrests to ease tension in the legs or back
- Laptop stand to ensure screen is at the right height
- Ergonomic mouse/keyboard/mouse matt
These can all be easily integrated into an existing workspace. Something a straightforward as swapping out the chairs or ensuring that everybody on your team has footrests, arm rests or back supports as needed could be a good first step to ensuring that your workplace is properly equipped.
Understand the relevant regulations
Getting the right furniture for your team isn’t just a case of being a good boss – in some cases, it’s also a legal requirement. All employers are expected to protect the health and safety of their team, and when you complete your risk assessments, the possibility of musculoskeletal disorders should be one of the things that you consider. There are also specific regulations for the use of display screen equipment such as computers.
The good news is that there’s more ergonomic equipment available now than ever, making it easy to comply with the regulations. Go through the factors outlined in this article, consider whether your staff need individual workspace assessments, and ensure that you are using purpose-designed equipment – you’ll be well on your way to creating an ergonomic office that your team will enjoy using.