Ergonomics in the office

We hear more and more often about ergonomics and ergonomic products.
It is a lively issue but sometimes people talk about it inappropriately.
In this short article we would like to answer some simple questions, and in particular:

What does ergonomic mean?
Why is a product ergonomic or not?
Regarding an office environment, what does ergonomic office mean?
Why investing in  an ergonomic office?

What does ergonomic mean.

Let’s start from a definition: Ergonomics is the discipline that studies the interaction between people and the tools they use (usually for work, but in reality not necessarily only for this).
In other words, ergonomics studies how people use certain tools in order to make these tools more comfortable.

Why is a product ergonomic or not?

A product is therefore ergonomic when its use has been studied in a scientific way and this study has revealed the comfort of use by a large number of users.
Alternatively, a product is considered ergonomic if it exceeds the reference Normative; we will go more in detail on this in the article dedicated to Ergonomic Office Chairs.

What does ergonomic office mean

The application of ergonomics principles to the office environment involves a wide range of assessments.
In fact, our comfort in an office depends on many factors, including:

  • The workstation, consisting of office seat, desk and video terminal
  • Office acoustics
  • Office lighting
  • Office ventilation and heating

It is therefore evident that an ergonomic office passes through a careful multi disciplinary design that takes into account all of these aspects.
However, the most important part and also the one on which it’s possible to have a fast improvement is the work station, which is in fact the “micro cosmo” in which the individual spends an important (and often predominant) amount of hours.

Why investing in an ergonomic office?

In order to have ergonomic offices, it is essentially necessary to have skilled interior designers on one hand and buy qualified products on the other. This tends to bring to higher spending. But is it worth?
Some recent studies show that investing in ergonomics has a fundamental return for companies (1).
In fact, it has been measured that working in an ergonomic office leads to an increase in overall performance of 15% (2).
This study has shown that ergonomics in the office brings to less absences for postural pains, thanks to better workstations, less stress and more concentration for workers, thanks to lighting and acoustic comfort, and ultimately to an increase of worker efficiency.
Let’s consider for example a company of 50 employees: investing in an ergonomic office is equivalent to hiring another 5/8 full-time workers.
And in any case without reaching the economic and efficiency aspect we can say that spending many hours in an ergonomic office means having a higher personal gratification and a better quality of life.

(1) Ergonomics and Economics- F. Schneider

(2) State Farm Insurance – T.J. Springer

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