A healthy workplace has many components: culture, wellness programs, safety, and more. You can add ergonomics to that list, since this has become critical for workers who spend hours at their desks each day or those who perform repetitive tasks (such as working on an assembly line). With a proliferation of new tools – from stand-up desks to computer optimization – it’s worth taking a closer look at the resources available today.
Sitting has been called the smoking of the current age, and we frequently read in the news about warnings that too much sitting can lead to serious health issues. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) reported that tools such as stand-up desks can yield a return on investment of between $3 and $7 for every dollar invested. A number of different desks are on the market that provide an alternative to traditional sitting desks. These include:
- Stand-up desks, which require users to stand 100 percent of the time, promoting activity levels and the ability to work without sitting.
- Desks that transition between standing and sitting, so users can choose what best fits their needs based on whatever they're doing at a specific moment.
- Treadmill desks that allow users to walk while working or taking calls, and bike desks, which allow users to use a stationary bike while working on their computers.
- Lift desks, which fit on top an existing desk and allow you to raise the height of a desk so a worker can stand rather than sit.
SHRM reports these desks vary between $1,000 and $5,000 per unit, although options vary by brand, location, and specific needs.
Alternatives to the traditional office chair focus on providing more active or more ergonomically friendly solutions for workers. These include fitness ball chairs, reclining chairs, and a host of other solutions. These types of chairs enable workers to more comfortably complete their tasks, while also being active or easing the pressure on parts of their body such as back, neck, and shoulders. Many chair solutions start around $100 and go up to thousands for complex and custom models.
Beyond sitting and standing, one of the most important areas of good ergonomics is device optimization. As the Mayo Clinic notes, it's important to have a strategy in place to address the ergonomics of devices. While that focus is usually on computers, it can also extend to mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, as well as other equipment used in day-to-day work. At a computer station, focusing on ergonomics includes assessing the keyboard, mouse, monitor height, and other elements. Often, small investments in an ergonomic keyboard or a solution to raise a monitor can have a big impact on creating a healthy workplace without negatively impacting the bottom line.
Employee discomfort, illness, and even injury associated with poor ergonomics can cost your business money and productivity. Evaluate what you can do today to create a healthy workplace for your team and increase worker performance across the board.