What is Ergonomic Office Furniture?

January 30, 2014
What is Ergonomic Office Furniture?

non ergonomic office design

What is ergonomic office furniture?

Ergonomic office furniture is the product of our contemporary times. We might argue that the more modernised a society, the more physically sedate it becomes. Certainly gone are the cave days when we would literally be on the run for our food (or from becoming food to something else). Gone are the days when a vast percentage of us was employed in farming and farm related work. Now more and more of us spend in excess of eight hours a day, five days a week, desk-bound. And no matter how interesting the work we do might be, at the end of the day we’re doing it from pretty much the same seated position week in, week out.

Yet the catch is we’re just not made to spend so much time in the single position. We’re made to be out and about, staying active and moving our bodies at varying speeds, in different ways. Hence the need for ergonomic office furniture.

In short, ergonomically designed furniture works to minimise the risk of pain and injury caused from remaining largely sedentary in the same position.

Why is ergonomic office furniture important?

The benefit to employees is of course that they remain as pain free and/or niggle free as possible. The benefit to employers is minimised sick leave resulting from workplace aches and pains, not to mention maintaining a relatively robust staff morale.

How do you tell the difference between ergonomic office furniture and standard office furniture?

Firstly – it’s not just the furniture itself that is ergonomic. How the furniture is positioned, the angle at which it is placed and the way in which it is used all combine to help make something as ergonomic as possible. Add to this the need for the user to keep their posture at top-of-mind and to interrupt their work every half an hour or so (some suggest every 20 minutes) for a quick stretch, deep breath and basically just momentarily breaking up the physical monotony; all this helps to strike a more ergonomically balanced work life!

But as far as the actual furniture items themselves are concerned, there are some key features to keep a look out for:

  • Is the furniture adjustable? None of us are the same shape, size and weight so it’s important office furniture can adjust to those subtle differences

  • Does the office chair have quality lumbar support? Lower back pain in particular can be a common office affliction – make sure there is support for the back’s natural curvature

  • Are arm and foot rests available? Promoting circulation by keeping feet elevated, or just elevating them every now and again and having the option to do so, can be a positive addition to the ergonomic office. Certainly adjustable armrests go a long way in helping create an office chair that is as ergonomic as possible

  • What’s the padding like? Many of us can be sitting in the same seat in excess of eight hours a day – keeping the derriere comfy is a big plus in an ergonomic chair!

  • It’s all about the position – keep the keyboard and computer screen directly in front of you. Even just a slight tilt of either can, over eight hours a day, five days a week, create niggles that nobody wants. Additions like wrist rests for laptops and/ or the computer mouse can be greatly appreciated by many

These suggestions are by no means the definitive guide on ergonomically designed office furniture. Speak to your retailer who is likely to have the very latest information at hand!

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